Tips to Increase Readability
The battle between art and commerce has been going on for centuries, and it extends, quite dramatically, into the world of signs and banners. Ever pass a billboard whose message was unclear or that you simply couldn’t read? Might be the work of an advertising agency more interested in winning awards than selling product. Or it could be that the “designer” of the billboard just lacked the skill. When it comes to signs and banners, a few simple suggestions will help you get your message across whether it’s your intent to alert, advise, warn, engage, entice, educate, inform, or just sell something.
- Light colors against light backgrounds do not deliver the same “punch” or readability as those combinations which offer contrast. Black, blue, brown, dark green and “hard red” letters against white or pastel backgrounds are easy to read and the addition of your logo can easily introduce your brand.
- Intricate logos may often lose their effectiveness when reduced for placement on small signs or may lose their clarity if enlarged excessively without the proper resolution. If your proof looks blurred or out or register, consider leaving the logo off, incorporate your branding colors instead, and make sure the font you use mirrors that of your logo (if it has one).
Speaking of fonts, it is generally accepted that Helvetica is the easiest font to read. When in doubt, use this dependable sans-serif typeface, which is a popular choice for commercial wordmarks and which appears on many US government forms. Here’s what eSigns.com’s in house, Mistress of Design Arts, Allison DeMarte, has to say about the font:
“Helvetica as a sans serif, (without the decorative tips of a serif font like Times New Roman, or Baskerville), is cleaner and easier to read from a distance. Traditionally serif fonts are used for books and newspapers because the decorative tips guide the eye from letter to letter, increasing readability. Sans serif fonts, like Franklin & Helvetica, allow the eye to rest between letters, causing the viewer to stop and take it in, letter for letter. Exactly what you want for brand recognition.”
Thanks Allison! And just in case you’re interested, Helvetica was “born” in 1956 in the Swiss town of Muchenstein. The name Helvetica was selected because of its similarity to “Helvetia”, the Latin name for Switzerland. “Helvetia” was passed over because a Swiss sewing machine company and an insurance firm had already taken the name. Arial is a nice alternative and it has red, white, and blue roots. So now you know.