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Pole Banners: Design for Distance

Posted by Derrek Coss on May 4, 2012 2:35:00 PM

 Light pole banners have become a staple in the marketing and sign industries. They are a great opportunity to reach the public and make them aware of an event, performance, or sports team. Often sponsors choose to be included on pole banners as they are aware that pole banners reach an audience much larger then their customer lists or even online marketing which seems to be becoming the modern equivalent to junk mail. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when designing pole banners. Utilizing these tips will help you get the most out of your design and is sure to make your sponsors very happy with the visibility of their corporate identity.

1. GO BIG!

Pole banners are most often viewed from a distance. The larger the letters the easier they are to read. Make sure to create a hierarchy of information for your banner. In other words, the most important information should be the largest and the least important information should be the smallest.

The United States Sign Council (USSC) has done extensive research and determined the optimum viewing distance based on every inch of letter height, known as the Legibility Index (LI). For example, a sign with an LI of 22 means that 1” capital letters should be legible from a distance of 22 feet. Likewise 10” capital letters are legible at 220’. Additionally, the LI also reflects a 15% increase in letter height required when all upper case letters are used instead of the more legible upper and lower case letters with initial caps.

Signe legibility Index


Negative space in this sense is the space in between and around the letters and images included in a banner layout. The space around the letters/images is equally important as letter height. The human eye works with our brain to see words as shapes. Having enough space around these shapes allows our brains to more quickly identify and understand the word/shape. The USSC has determined a ratio of 40/60 as a standard for sign legibility. 40% coverage with text or image and 60% negative space.

 negative space example


In addition to letter size and the relationship of letter size to negative space, the greater the amount of contrast in color of text to background helps increase legibility. Consider speed limit signs which are typically black text on a white background. Although this may seem a bit boring it is the highest amount of contrast you can have from background to text. The more contrast there is between text and background the more the text will “pop” off of the sign and in turn be more readable, especially when viewed from a distance or while moving.




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Topics: accent banner, banner design, event banners, light pole banners, printed banners, design tips

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