Is the lettering big enough?

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Not all the lettering, mind you. But is the first and most important message getting the size (and contrast) it deserves? It’s the only way to make sure that the reader gets at least the essential message. Even if they don’t feel inspired to read any of the secondary copy, at least you slipped that important message into their mind.

No reader sets out in the morning to read every word of every sign or piece of advertising they see. They’re so bombarded by visual advertising that they have probably programmed themselves to tune out most of it. That’s where effective sign design succeeds: You give them a little visual bait, then set the main message’s hook.

I remember Bob Behounek mentioning once that he gave half to two-thirds of the real estate on any sign format to the primary message. Yes, that means the secondary messages will have to give up some of their impact. But the truth is, if you don’t get the message that there is a company called Reliable Plumbing in town and their truck is beside you at the red light, then “Your Hometown Plumber” and “Commercial and Residential” and the website and phone number won’t matter much.

An effective sign design spoon feeds the messages to the reader. We want to make sure they at least get the first bite: Luxury Townhomes for Lease. If they’re interested, they can get the secondary info on the second and third bites: Coming November 1st. Garage Units Available. Leasing Agent on Premises.

Once you give it enough space to be large enough, then you can use letter weight, contrast and color to further emphasize it. But if the primary message is close in size to the secondary messages, then all the strong colors, cool typefaces and special effects in the world won’t get it the attention it deserves.

You’ll have to be ready to explain this to customers. Many, if not most, think ALL the copy is really important and it ALL needs to be big and bold. But with a brief explanation—or better yet, a few before-and-after photos or drawings—most will get the picture. They may also start to realize that there is more to this “sign thing” than just typing the letters into the computer, picking some funky font and clicking Print.


Brian Schofield, Lines and Letters, Hillsborough, New Jersey


Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania


Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania


Jeff Devey, Jeff’s Graphics, Twin Falls, Idaho


Rob Cooper, Koh Tao, Thailand


John Liptak, Liptak Signs, Portsmouth, Rhode Island


Ralph Toews and Sons, RT Signs, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada


Brian Schofield, Lines and Letters, Hillsborough, New Jersey


Brian Schofield, Lines and Letters, Hillsborough, New Jersey


Randy Howe, Getzum Exposure, Port Dover, Ontario, Canada


Brian Schofield, Lines and Letters, Hillsborough, New Jersey


Bob Behounek, Berwyn, Illinois


Mike Szczoczarz, Countryside DeSigns, Seekonk, Massachusetts


Curt Stenz, Curt Stenz Graphics, Pikeville, Tennessee


John Harl, John Harl Designs, San Jose, California


Brian Schofield, Lines and Letters, Hillsborough, New Jersey