Are you designing the signage for your own business or for a client of yours and need help picking out suitable fonts?
If you're not bound by the requirements of a corporate style guide or signage style guide, it can sometimes be difficult to pick a font that reads well and is consistent with your aesthetics. Luckily there are a few simple rules to remember that will help you create beautiful, legible signage that reads well and reflects your level of professionalism!
Keep it Simple
Signage needs to be clear and concise, and has to communicate a whole lot in a very small amount of time and space. Simple fonts, whether they're sans serif or serif fonts, tend to work better than decorative and/or thin stroke fonts with big loops and flourishes that can be hard to read. Legibility is important.
The same goes for selected colours. While the colour scheme should always be appropriate for the brand you're representing, you need to ensure that whatever colours you use have appropriate contrast with the background colour and will be easy to read by the viewer.
Consider the Production Method
Designers may tend to think only about what looks good on-screen and forget that whatever is being designed needs to be replicated in real-world applications. Think about the purpose of the sign and the material(s) that will be used in its production.
If you're doing fabricated illuminated lettering, the stroke width of your letters needs to be wide enough to accommodate the thickness of the material from which it's being made, the size and positioning of LED modules. Simply put, wider stroke fonts work better, as they read more clearly and are less likely to create problems with fabrication.
Avoid Using Too Many Fonts
Unless you're purposefully designing a poster that features typography, you'll want to avoid using too many different fonts. Sticking to a single font family in a couple of weights for any headers and title text, and one easy-to-read font for bulk / body copy is important. First of all, it helps to reinforce brand association, and it also helps maintain consistency across your project. This is why style guides always include specific fonts for use.
Think About Viewing Distance
What's the purpose of your sign? If you're designing a fascia sign that people will be viewing from across the street or from traffic, it’s a mistake to include very small and/or thin stroke fonts that cannot be easily read at a distance or from a moving vehicle. Road signs are plain, bold, and simple for a reason.
If in doubt, you can always rely on the experts at Prosign for assistance.