Factors to Consider for the Legibility of Your Business Sign’s Typography

Legibility is a deal-breaker in the signage industry. Illegible signs are immediately dismissed and give a business a bad first impression. Using the right font is an important consideration in your sign’s legibility. This article, however, highlights some other important considerations.

Negative Space

Negative space is the space surrounding letters, words and images. Legibility is greatly affected by negative space. A general rule of thumb is that there should be as much negative space as possible. Letters and images are easier to distinguish when there is more negative space.

Letter Height

Letter height depends on the location of your sign. If you’re in an area where vehicles typically travel at high speeds, such as a highway, letter heights should be 12 inches are more. On the other hand, letter heights should be at least 4 inches in areas where vehicles travel at slower speeds.

Open Counterforms

Counterform refers to the space within letters. Lighting typically makes counterforms shrink.  Use fonts that have thinner stroke widths and more open contours to address this issue.

Effective Use of both Positive and Negative Space

Contrast is important in signage. Dark letters on a light background are easier to read than light letters on a dark background. Additionally, try as best as possible to paint the wall on which your sign is to be placed a light color. If your sign has a dark typeface, it will pop against the light wall color.

Avoid Cursive Fonts

This tip depends on the situation. It is generally believed that the best fonts to use for signage are Serif and Sans Serif. It is recommended, however, that cursive and idiosyncratic fonts not be used.


Backlighting, rather than exterior lighting, is often preferred for signs. Signs with backlighting should have wider letter spacing and very simple fonts.

Be Consistent

It’s important to use the same typography and type of sign for all branches of your business. Consistency makes your signs easier to recognize. Recognition is crucial because motorists will only see your sign for short periods of time. You want them to be able to recognize your sign quickly and make a decision to support your business.


Business sign typography encompasses more than just the font you use. You have to pay attention to the negative and positive space you use, the size of the font in relation to lighting, letter height, counterforms, and consistency. When all of these elements work together, you’ll be able to create a sign that attracts potential customers.    

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