National Academies’ Nighttime Overhead Signage Luminance Levels

The National Academies Press issued an 80-page report, in May 2017, entitled “Guidelines for Nighttime Overhead Sign Visibility.” It includes a chart 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 foot and […]

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Texas/Pennsylvania DOT Studies Says Clearview Font Improves Sign Legibility

A study conducted jointly by the Texas and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation in April 2006 concluded 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 highway signs were no longer visible enough for a population that included older drivers. Over the next […]

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Should Signs be Regulated as Lighting Devices?

The answer is a very clear “no.” An article in January 2016 issue of 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 […]

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Iowa City Newspaper Lauds Projecting Signs Following CoSign Workshop

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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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How Big Do the Letters on Signs, Parallel to the Road, Need to Be?

As noted elsewhere on this website, “visual acuity” and “conspicuity” and “cone of vision” are very important for signs, because motorists must be able to detect signs, read them and then react to them in a few seconds. So how much does the visibility change when a sign directly faces the driver (perpendicular to the […]

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What Does “Conspicuity” Mean for Signage?

Conspicuity for signage is determined by the contrast between the sign and its background. A sign must be conspicuous first, because, without it, the sign’s legibility and readability are moot points. While the appropriate size for signs is addressed on this website under the heading “How big should a sign’s letters be?”, conspicuity includes factors […]

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