April '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 A P R I L G R A P H I C S P R O 8 9 I have a family of type that I prefer for most of the signs I de- sign. ey are legible and oer a huge variety of subsets for vari- ous purposes. I like the Gotham typeset, as well as the Myriad Pro, and of course good old Helvetica. TOOLS THAT SIGN DESIGNERS USE How do you know if a sign will be readable at a distance while it's on your computer? ere is a simple test you can perform (or a tool to use) and it's called the squint test. is is one of the easiest ways to determine if the sign, or design, is legible from a distance. Step One: Place the design on your screen so that it has plenty of white space around it and step back away from the monitor, about three feet or so. Step Two: Now carefully, while holding onto something secure and while wearing your OSHA-approved safety harness, look at the logo or design that's on the screen and squint your eyes. Squint hard enough that the image is blur- ry, and you only see the dominant elements of the design. ese dominant elements should still be readable, like if you were tak- ing an eye test, you should be able to read the primary text on the sign clearly and denitively without hesitation or pause. I have had to redesign hundreds of logos just to make them readable or buildable as a sign. Consequently, those same logos also could not be reduced down in size for printing on a pen or embroidering on a shirt. Readability in logo design goes both ways by beneting both the enlarged version and the reduction. Designing only for readability at arm's length will consistently provide designs that do not work at other sizes. I will continue this article over future issues as we examine other factors that can aect the legibility of sign design such as the speed at which the viewer is traveling, lay- out, letter sizes, graphics, kerning, and a lot more on proper design strategies for creating logos that are legible at all sizes. We will also ex- plore the science and theory behind outdoor advertising as it relates to designing displays where messages are stated clearly, to the point, and usually quite memorable. GP MATT CHARBONEAU started his career in the sign industry in 1985 as Charbo- neau Signs. In 2017 he published the Pre-Sale Sign Survey Field Guide. In 2019 he started Storm Mountain Signs and the Sign Design Institute. Contact him at Matt@;; and 970-481-4151. You may say boring, you may also say blocky, but you cannot argue the fact that they are readable from a distance … and legibility is what matters most in signage. The message is clear, but the intent of the sender is totally in ques- tion due to font choices.

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