How to Make a Sign

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on August 23rd, 2005

When it’s time to hold a demonstration, use signs and banners that are readable, neat, and attractive.

Art stores sell a product called foamcore that is much more durable than posterboard, which disintegrates in the rain and flaps in the wind.

Banners, made of white sheets folded lengthwise, are great in rainy or windless situations, but require more effort to hold.

Lettering and artwork should be in acrylic paint, because it is brilliant and waterproof. Magic markers stink. They are too thin, streaky, and pale.

Which signs can you read? Letters on a poster or banner should be at least 3 in x 6 in. The best test for legibility is to stand 30 feet away from your signs and try to read them. Consider how little time drivers have to take in your message.

Thickness and spacing of letters is important. Use a T-square to lay out your message neatly. If you absolutely cannot draw neat letters, buy stick-on labels, and consider using black foamcore with white letters. This can be very effective.

Artwork is helpful, but must be identifiable. Use bold strokes and vibrant colors. Don’t be shy about copying great masters, icons, or graphic art. We’ve used Francisco Goya, Vincent Van Gogh, Ade Bethune, and Matt Groening to good effect.

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  1. On August 24, 2005 at 13:59 David Gardner said:

    What you can try is laying out your sign on your computer, print it out on regular paper and then take it to Kinkos and have them blow it up to something like 22 inches by 44 inches which can then be glued to foam board.

  2. On November 17, 2005 at 00:17 Mike (Worcester) said:

    David–Paper signs work great in LA, but out here where it rains, they’re not so good.

    If you’re using foamcore, and one side is mostly paint-covered and the other is not, and some rain gets on it, it will warp a bit. Not so much as to be ugly, though. A way to prevent this is to make all your foam-core signs double-sided if you think you might use them in the rain, and try to have roughly equal paint coverage on each side.