Signage for Educational Institutes

by A Guest Author

Signage for schools, colleges and other educational institutions serves two purposes. One is informative: it tells visitors where they are and how to find the locations that they're looking for. Signage also provides an educational establishment with a coherent identity, conveying the values and attitudes that are important to the organization.

Signage needs to combine quality design and readability. The needs of staff and students with visual impairments need to be taken into consideration; florid but illegible fonts, "artistic" color choices that make legibility difficult and signs that are too high or too far away to read must all be avoided.


The colors used in signage for educational instructions are of paramount importance, both to the message that the signage sends out and to its readability. Bright, lively primary and secondary colors -- pillar-box red, cobalt blue, daffodil yellow -- spell fun and vivacity, making them ideal for establishments catering for younger children. More reserved tones such as burgundy, navy blue and grey give the impression of maturity and professionalism, making them a better choice for institutes of higher education or adult learning centers. Colors like lime green, fuscia or teal can help create a bold artistic look, appropriate for institutes of art, design or perhaps beauty.

Some color contrasts are much easier to read than others. Yellow or white text will be hard to read against light colors but easier to see on strong or dark shades. Black or dark-colored text will be hard to read on a dark-colored background. Some choices are appealing aesthetically -- white on grey may give a pleasantly understated look, for example -- but as signage conveys important information so all of your signs need to employ contrasting text and color choices.


The choice of typeface or font is very important. Some fonts immediately convey a particular mood and need to be employed sparingly and in a carefully targeted manner. The childish curves of Comic Sans Serif are inappropriate almost anywhere except nursery school signage, for example, while a brush script such as ITC Cancione should perhaps be avoided except on signage for establishments oriented towards a creative profession.

Some fonts are more immediately easy to read than others. There's some debate as to whether serif fonts or sans-serif fonts are more readable; what's generally understood is that a more basic workhorse font is better for conveying information while display fonts can be used for the name of the institution. The spacing of the letters is crucial to readability and to the overall effect -- if the characters are too close together, the text can become hard to read, while erratically spaced characters or characters that are too far apart can look unprofessional. The orientation of the lettering is also important: even on signs that are tall rather than long, the lettering will normally need to be horizontal.

Information needs to be presented in a clear, easy-to-read form; however, there is somewhat more leeway when main titles such as the name of the school is concerned. Here's where a designer can employ a decorative display font and perhaps use a vertical orientation for the text.

About the Author

Ward Signs designs and manufactures signage for education.

This post was written by A Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author. If you have high quality, useful information to share with students, send us an email or click Write For Us to learn more. And in case you're wondering - yes, you can promote yourself in this fancy author byline.

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