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Outdoor sign size matter, consider distance and speed 

Outdoor sign size matters how to decide

How to Decide on Outdoor Signage Size

Outdoor signage is a pivotal tool for businesses. This article explores the nuances of outdoor sign sizing, encompassing factors like location, audience, design, and regulations. Let’s explore together the facets of points to consider when deciding on outdoor signage. 


Key Takeaway Points:


  • Consider Distance and Speed: Sign size varies with distance and traffic speed. Increase size for readability from afar.


  • Visibility from Angles: Optimal visibility from different angles attracts attention without necessitating turns.


  • Location in Relation to Parking: Sign placement concerning parking entrances impacts sizing decisions.


  • Tailored Sizing for Businesses: Different businesses require varied sign sizes based on needs and branding.


  • Regulations and Visibility: Abide by regulations to avoid legal issues, while optimizing visibility ensures effectiveness.


Chanel Letters Outdoor Sign


Guide to Outdoor Signage Sizing


  • Height and Distance: Take into consideration the height and distance at which your sign will be read. Whether it’s at eye level, positioned 30 feet high on a building, or situated on a tall pylon, the farther the sign is from the viewer, the larger it should be for easy readability.


  • Traffic Speed: Factor in the speed of passing traffic when designing your sign. The faster the traffic, the bigger the message needs to be to ensure legibility from an optimal distance.


  • Visibility from Different Angles: Reflect on how well your sign can be seen from various angles. Ideally, your signage should catch the eyes of oncoming traffic before they pass by, allowing impulse buyers to consider stopping without needing to turn around.


  • Location in Relation to Parking Area: Consider the sign’s placement in relation to the entrance of your parking area. Is it positioned before or after a turn? This aspect should also influence your decision when determining the appropriate size for the sign letters.


LED internal lit Channel Letters outdoor sign


Choosing Effective Outdoor Signage: A Guide for Different Businesses


When selecting outdoor signage, various businesses must carefully weigh their specific needs and preferences. Let’s delve into what each type of business should consider:


  1. Retail Stores

  • Visibility, Branding, and Product Promotion:
    • What size and placement will maximize visibility? How can the sign reflect the brand’s identity? Will it be illuminated for nighttime visibility?
    • A larger sign near eye level is best for visibility. The sign’s design should align with the store’s branding. Adding LED lights ensures visibility at night.


    1. Restaurants

  • Consideration: Menu Display, Ambiance, and Weather Resistance:
      • Should the sign showcase the menu? What materials will withstand weather conditions? Will it complement the restaurant’s theme?
      • Displaying a concise menu can attract passing customers. Opt for durable materials like acrylic or metal. The sign’s design should match the restaurant’s style.


    1. Hotels

  • Visibility, Information Dissemination, and Aesthetics
      • Where should the sign be placed for maximum exposure? Should it include directions to various facilities? How can the sign enhance the hotel’s overall aesthetic?
      • A sign near the entrance is crucial. Including clear directional information and a map can be helpful. The sign’s design should harmonize with the hotel’s decor.


    1. Real Estate

  • Property Details, Contact Information, and Durability
      • How can the sign effectively display property features? Is the contact information legible? What materials will endure various weather conditions?
      • Use a sign with enough space to highlight key property features. Large, bold text ensures legibility from a distance. Durable materials like aluminum can withstand outdoor conditions.


    1. Event Venues

  • Directions, Event Promotion, and Temporary Installation
      • How can the signage guide attendees to different areas? What’s the best way to showcase upcoming events? Can the signage be easily set up and taken down for various occasions?
      • Clear directional arrows and signs at intersections help attendees find their way. Incorporate event imagery and dates to promote upcoming occasions. Consider banners that are easy to assemble and disassemble.


    1. Service Providers

  • Professionalism, Information Conveyance, and Longevity
      • How can the sign convey trust and expertise? What information should it include? Will the sign’s appearance withstand the test of time?
      • Use a clean and professional design to convey trustworthiness. Include essential services and contact details. Opt for high-quality materials to ensure the sign’s longevity.


Ultimately, all these businesses aim to select signage that resonates with their brand, effectively communicates their messages, captures their target audience’s attention, and can endure the challenges of outdoor exposure. By carefully considering design, material, size, location, and budget, they can make informed choices that align with their unique requirements.


Painted sign for large areas
Painted sign for large areas


How to Choose the Right Size for Your Outdoor Sign

Picking the ideal size for your outdoor sign is a crucial decision with far-reaching effects on its impact and effectiveness. Here are some helpful pointers to assist you in selecting the right size for your outdoor sign based on your objectives, budget, and space constraints:


  1. Measure the Space: Start by measuring the area where you intend to place the sign. A tape measure or ruler will suffice for gauging the width and height. This measurement provides a basis for determining the maximum size achievable.


  1. Define Your Objectives: Tailor the sign’s size to your goals. For distant attention-grabbing, a larger sign might be more impactful. Conversely, if you need to convey intricate details, a smaller sign with additional text could be more fitting.


  1. Mind Your Budget: Keep in mind that size affects cost. Generally, larger signs come with a higher price tag. Strive to balance your size choice with your budget, ensuring it aligns with your objectives.


  1. Factor in Space Limits: Beyond dimensions, account for any spatial constraints near the intended sign location. Trees or obstacles might necessitate opting for a smaller sign to guarantee visibility.


Remember, the size of your outdoor sign profoundly influences its efficacy. Bigger signs tend to grab attention from a distance, but they can be costlier and unsuitable for every location. Meanwhile, smaller signs are budget-friendly and information-rich, though they might not catch the eye as well from afar.


Vibrant window graphics showcasing LA Financial's services
Vibrant perforated window graphics


Best Practices for Outdoor Sign Design and Sizing

When crafting and sizing an outdoor sign, adhering to best practices is essential to ensure its appeal, readability, and memorability. Here are guidelines to help you select the optimal fonts, colors, images, and layouts for your outdoor sign, all tailored to your brand identity, message, and audience preferences:


  • Readability First: Prioritize legibility at a distance. Opt for a clear font, avoiding ornate scripts or overly thin/bold styles. As per the International Sign Association, use letters at least one inch (1″) tall for every twenty-five feet (25′) of viewing distance.


  • Color Choice: Opt for high-contrast, easily readable colors. Steer clear of shades that are too alike or blend into the backdrop. To stand out, consider the International Sign Association’s recommendation to juxtapose warm and cool colors or employ color blocking.


  • Image Selection: If including images, ensure they’re clear and relevant to your brand. Avoid busy visuals that might divert attention from your sign’s core message.


  • Simplicity in Layout: Keep the sign layout uncluttered. Avoid overwhelming it with excessive info or images. Make the most critical details stand out prominently.


Viewing angle, height and distance outdoors are important factors
Viewing angle, height and distance outdoors are important factors


Outdoor Sign Size Regulations and Standards for Different Businesses


Retail Stores

  • Check local zoning laws to determine the permitted sign size, especially in commercial areas.
  • Different jurisdictions may limit the sign’s height to avoid obstructing sightlines or restrict illuminated signs in residential zones.
  • Violations could result in fines, removal orders, or legal action. To avoid this, research and adhere to the specific regulations.



  • Consider both municipal regulations and shopping center guidelines if applicable.
  • Some areas might limit sign projection to avoid encroachment on sidewalks, while malls may have specific rules on sign size and placement.
  • Non-compliance might lead to sign removal or fines. To stay within the regulations, consult with both local authorities and the property owner.



  • Check height restrictions and architectural guidelines set by the local government or property management.
  • Certain areas might enforce maximum sign area to prevent visual clutter, while historic districts could have stricter design constraints.
  • Ignoring regulations could result in penalties or sign removal. To comply, collaborate with the relevant authorities and maintain a clear line of communication.


Real Estate

  • Research local ordinances on sign size and placement, especially in residential neighborhoods.
  • Regulations might dictate the maximum size of “For Sale” signs and the distance they must be from the property.
  • Violations could lead to fines or removal. Ensure compliance by understanding the local rules and communicating with clients effectively.


Event Venues

  • Understand both city and event venue regulations regarding temporary signage.
  • Some cities might limit the size and duration of event signs, while venues may have specific guidelines for event-related advertising.
  • Non-compliance might lead to sign removal during the event or post-event penalties. To avoid issues, plan ahead and secure the necessary permits.


Service Providers

  • Research local ordinances to determine appropriate sign size and placement for professional services.
  • Certain areas could restrict the size of signs for service providers like clinics or law firms.
  • Disregarding regulations could result in fines or removal. Prioritize compliance by consulting with local authorities and updating signage as needed.


By understanding and adhering to outdoor sign size regulations and standards, businesses can avoid legal issues, fines, and disruptions to their operations. It’s essential to research the specific regulations in their area and consult with relevant authorities or property managers to ensure their signage aligns with local requirements.


Monument sign for visual landmarks
Monument sign for visual landmarks


Tips for Optimizing Outdoor Sign Visibility and Readability for Different Businesses

Retail Stores

  • Ensure the sign is well-lit, using backlighting or spotlights to illuminate it at night.
  • Use high-contrast colors for text and background to improve readability.
  • Create a mock-up of the sign and evaluate it at different times of day to ensure visibility under varying lighting conditions.



  • Employ soft, warm lighting that complements the restaurant’s ambiance without causing glare.
  • Opt for contrasting colors that make the menu items stand out against the background.
  • Simulate the menu sign’s lighting and evaluate its readability from different angles to ensure it’s legible for diners.



  • Illuminate the sign to make it visible even during nighttime arrivals.
  • Use a color scheme that contrasts with the sign’s background for clear visibility.
  • Use simulations to determine the sign’s visibility from various points around the entrance to ensure guests can easily find it.


Real Estate

  • Consider solar-powered lights to keep the sign visible after dark.
  • Choose colors that contrast well against the property’s surroundings for readability.
  • Display a mock-up of the sign near the property and gauge its visibility from a distance to potential buyers.


Event Venues

  • Illuminate event signage using bright and focused lighting to ensure visibility from a distance.
  • Select high-contrast colors for event details to make them pop.
  • Conduct surveys with potential attendees using signage mock-ups to gather feedback on visibility and readability.


Service Providers

  • Illuminate the sign with a balanced lighting setup that doesn’t cause glare.
  • Use a combination of colors that enhance readability and professionalism.
  • Create a simulation of the sign’s placement and lighting to gauge how well it can be seen by passersby.


Maintaining Visibility and Readability

  • Regular Cleaning: Keep the sign clean and free from dirt, dust, and debris that could obscure visibility.
  • Timely Repairs: Address any damages promptly to ensure the sign remains intact and legible.
  • Periodic Replacement: If the sign deteriorates or becomes less visible over time, consider replacing it to maintain its effectiveness.


By considering lighting, contrast, spacing, alignment, and orientation, businesses can ensure that their outdoor signage effectively captures the attention of their target audience and conveys the intended message clearly. Regular testing and maintenance help sustain the sign’s impact over time.


Three Dimensional Unlit Sign for Bolt Hermosa Beach
Dimensional letter sign custom designed to suit your needs


Contact Us For Assistance With Your Outdoor Sign 

Outdoor sign sizing is a blend of science and art. It impacts visibility, legibility, and overall impact. By factoring in location, speed, angles, and regulations, businesses can design signs that effectively engage their target audience, convey messages, and contribute to brand recognition. Remember, a well-designed and appropriately sized outdoor sign is a powerful asset in the world of visual communication. 


Contact us for assistance our team will gladly help you with full-service signage solutions. 


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