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The Best Fonts for Outdoor Sign Writing

Posted By:

XL Displays

Date:

19 August 2021

Reading Time:

15 Mins

This news article is also featured in:

Pavement Signs

The Best Fonts for Outdoor Sign Writing

So, you want to set up an outdoor sign, but you’re not sure which font to use. Not to worry - there’s a whole world of free or paid-for fonts out there to choose from so you’re bound to find the perfect one for your business.

However, before you choose the font for your outdoor sign, you should pick the right kind of advertising board for your business. There are many different styles of pavement signs, including:

  • Chalkboard Signs - these have a traditional look and feel and are ideal for hospitality venues, as they can be wiped clean and re-written regularly to reflect changing menus or specials.
  • Water-Based Signs - the most sturdy and durable kind of pavement sign, ideal for street retail or forecourts. The base can be filled with sand or water for stability.
  • Swing Signs - available with pre-printed vinyl graphic panels or poster pockets, these signs swing in the breeze for a simple yet effective display.
  • Flex Signs - similar to Swing Signs, the pre-printed vinyl graphic panels flex back and forth in the wind for a sturdy and durable design.
  • A-Frame Boards - shaped like a letter ‘A’, with two display panels that fold out at angles supported by a connecting joint in the middle. Their construction makes them sturdy and stable for use outdoors. 

What is the most professional outdoor sign font to use?

The truth is that almost any outdoor sign font can look professional if you use it correctly. However, fonts like Garamond and Helvetica are always popular choices for a professional look as they have a classic, unembellished style that’s easy to read and suitable for a wide range of businesses. Interestingly, even more unusual fonts are given a professional feel if they are ‘validated’ by being the chosen font of a large brand, for example, Ferro Rosso used by Ferrari or English Towne used by The New York Times.

Which font attracts the most attention?

If you want to make a real impact with your outdoor sign font, you need to find the ideal combination of clarity and quirkiness. Choosing a font which matches with the ‘theme’ of your business also helps to create a cohesive display; for example, a sports shop or bar might benefit from choosing SF Sports Night, while a Pet Shop might choose a font like Mister Dogy.

Ultimately, unusual fonts will in themselves attract attention, but it’s important to ensure that your messaging remains clear and easy to read. For example, a font like Sadeno or Sundance2 are striking but complicated, whereas fonts such as Cubical Demo or Padreman have a good balance of quirkiness and clarity.

What font is easiest to read from a distance?

Typically, sign writing fonts with clear, uncomplicated lines in bold capitals are the easiest to read from a distance. Examples of this kind of font include Norwester, Trajan, Romande ADF and Cormorant. However, if you prefer a font with a mixture of capital and small letters, then ensuring the small letters are easily readable is essential. Clear fonts with a mix of letters include Libre Baskerville, Futura, Optima and ChunkFive. Remember, the size of your lettering and the spacing of your design are just as important when it comes to visibility and comprehension.

What are the best fonts for chalkboard signs?

Chalkboards are a unique proposition when it comes to outdoor signs as you need to produce the lettering yourself using chalkboard markers. The best font for a chalkboard sign will depend on what you want to include on your display: shorter messages can look great in cursive or calligraphy styles, while longer or more detailed information is more comprehensible if you use an all-capitals or block print-style font. 

Some of the most popular chalkboard fonts at the moment are:

  • Catalina Avalon - versatile and aesthetic

  • Alioli - bold and striking

  • Riverfall Semi Rounded - quirky and decorative

  • Neato Serif - classic with a twist

  • Crafter - vintage and charming

  • Timothy - chunky and fun

When it comes to writing on a chalk board, you don’t have to be an expert calligrapher to produce professional-looking signs; all you need is a printer, a piece of standard chalk and a pencil. First, select the font you want to use and design your wording. Be sure to plan out the sizing of your lettering carefully to match the size you’ll require in real life on your chalkboard. Next, print out your life-size lettering and carefully rub your chalk stick over the reverse of the paper. Hold the paper against your chalkboard, and trace the lines of the font lettering carefully and firmly with the pencil. This should leave you a clear outline in chalk of the font lines so you can go over them with your markers to create a beautiful, professional-looking chalkboard sign.

Find out more about how to use a chalkboard sign to promote your business on our blog post Chalkboard Pavement Signs: Ideal for Adding Personality to Your Brand.

CHALKART Removable Chalkboard Double Sided A-Board Sign

CHALKART Removable Chalkboard Double Sided A-Board Sign

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Typically, sign writing fonts with clear, uncomplicated lines in bold capitals are the easiest to read from a distance. Examples of this kind of font include Norwester, Trajan, Romande ADF and Cormorant. However, if you prefer a font with a mixture of capital and small letters, then ensuring the small letters are easily readable is essential. Clear fonts with a mix of letters include Libre Baskerville, Futura, Optima and ChunkFive. Remember, the size of your lettering and the spacing of your design are just as important when it comes to visibility and comprehension.

How big should I make the lettering on my pavement signs?

At the end of the day, the size of your lettering on your display signs depends on four things: the size of your display board, the message you wish to display, your fonts for signage design, and the distance at which you want people to be able to view your messaging.

The size of your display board is perhaps the most limiting factor when it comes to deciding on the size of your lettering. For example, you won’t be able to fit a long message with large letters on a relatively small pavement sign. Typically for standard-sized pavement signs, simple, bold messages that are eye-catching and easy to read prove the most effective for drawing a potential customer’s eye, rather than long-winded or overly wordy text.

The style of font you choose will also impact the size of your lettering. More complicated, cursive or calligraphy fonts (such as Happy Trendy, Allura or Rochester) can typically be harder to comprehend, and therefore usually require larger lettering sizes to counteract this. In contrast, choosing a striking font with simple lines (such as Amatic SC, Cinzel or Engebrechtre) means you can print smaller letters that are still easily readable.

Finally, you should consider the distance at which people will need to view your outdoor sign display. The size of the font will need to increase in line with the distance at which it will be viewed from. This table gives you an idea of the kind of distances display messages are visible at:

Letter Height Maximum
Readable Distance
Readable Distance
For Good Impact
Readable Distance
For Best Impact
10mm 4m 2m 1m
25mm 8m 4m 2m
50mm 15m 6m 3m
75mm 22m 10m 5m
100mm 30m 12m 6m
150mm 46m 18m 9m
200mm 60m 24m 12m
225mm 68m 28m 14m
250mm 76m 30m 15m
300mm 90m 36m 18m
375mm 110m 40m 20m
450mm 140m 50m 25m
600mm 180m 70m 35m
750mm 230m 90m 45m
900mm 270m 110m 55m
1000mm 320m 125m 60m
1200mm 360m 140m 70m
1350mm 400m 160m 80m
1500mm 450m 180m 90m


The exception to these rules is when you are displaying more specific information such as menus or treatment lists on a secondary board - people are already standing very close deliberately to  access that information, so your lettering size can be much more compact and still be effective.

When it comes to choosing sign writing fonts, there are lots of things to consider, but at the end of the day you can have a lot of fun playing with different font options for your outdoor signs before you finally commit to choosing a font for your brand.

Our expert team have decades of combined experience in the industry and are on-hand if you want advice or information about any of our outdoor signs. We also have a dedicated in-house Graphic Design Team who can help you put together bespoke artwork for your signs and displays, if you require. Please reach out to us via our Contact Us page, or on 01733 511030.

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