Conspicuity for Signs

Sign Questions Answered

Answers about visibility, placement, value and more

Essential Sign Library

Essential content for anyone regulating or using signs

Academic Research

Research on the use, impact and value of signs

All Sign Topics

Legislative updates, legal analysis and industry news

National Academies Releases Nighttime Overhead Signage Luminance Levels

The National Academies Press has issued an 80-page report entitled “Guidelines for Nighttime Overhead Sign Visibility.” It includes a chart that’s headlined “Luminance Levels for Overhead Signs.” It lists five different visual complexity levels, ranging from a dark rural area to a commercial downtown district. It then suggests minimum luminance levels in terms of candelas per square […]

Texas/Pennsylvania DOT Studies Says Clearview Font Improves Sign Legibility

A study conducted jointly by the Texas and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation concluded that the Clearview font increased the visibility distance for drives by 12% versus the existing Series E Modified font. In 1994 the Federal Highway Administration determined that highway signs were no longer visible enough for a population that included older drivers. Over […]

Should Signs be Regulated as Lighting Devices?

The answer is a very clear “no.” An article in Signs of the Times magazine explains that electric signs are not lighting devices, per se. Their purpose is not to provide light, but to provide messages. Thus, they should not be regulated as lighting devices. Electric signs need to be bright enough to be legible, […]

Iowa City Newspaper Lauds Projecting Signs Following CoSign Workshop at the American Sign Museum

Nate Kaeding is the Iowa City Downtown District’s retail development coordinator. He and other representatives from his city came to the American Sign Museum on February 20-21, 2017 to attend the CoSign workshop. CoSign is a program that connects merchants, designers and fabricators in order to create new and better signs, and promote economic development […]

Sign Research Foundation Releases 4-Part Typography Executive Summary

“Typography, Placemaking and Signs,” the four-part white paper series originally released by the Sign Research Foundation in 2014, is now available, free of charge, in a four-page executive summary. Written by the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Craig Berger, and produced by SRF, the paper includes: The History of Typography and Place; Environmental Typography Best Practices; Typography […]

How is the Size of Signs Measured?

The most common restriction in sign codes concerns the size of signs. This includes such considerations as the “setback,” (distance away from the road), the height and the dimensions of the sign itself. When the sign is a rectangle, and the copy fills it,  it’s easy — height x width. A 4 x 6-foot sign […]

Penn State Study Examines Font Legibility

The Larson Transportation Institute at Penn State University conducted a study on font legibility through a grant from Gemini Inc. (Cannon Falls, MN), a manufacturer of dimensional letters. The following is the Executive Summary from the report. For information about the full report, contact Philip Garvey at pmg4@psu.edu. Background and objectives The enormous font selection […]

What the Three Street Graphics Books Say About Signs

In 1971, the American Planning Association (APA) began distributing a book called Street Graphics and the Law, which was authored by Daniel Mandelker and William Ewald. It recommended the uncompensated taking of signs and governmental control of signs’ design, message and content. The authors stated that their conclusions were substantially based on 1956 research conducted […]

What are Some Guidelines for Electronic Message Center Resolution?

A critical aspect of any sign is viewing distance. The appropriate amount of detail varies greatly, depending on the distance from which the sign will be viewed. In digital printing, this “resolution” is determined by “dots per inch,” or DPI. The more closely an image will be viewed, the higher its resolution needs to be, […]

What Difference Does an Angled Sign Make Versus a Sign that’s Parallel to the Road?

Elsewhere in this series of questions, the difference in conspicuity for parallel and perpendicular signs is calculated, along with the requisite minimum sizes for the letters of each. But what if the local sign code won’t allow a bigger sign, and not enough projection length for a legible perpendicular sign? Would a sign with at […]