DISTANCE AND LEGIBILITY
Legibility of outdoor advertising design depends not only on the font style or on the color combinations used but, also on how these elements work together at a distance.
Distance must be considered because the viewer is in motion. The font size or lettering is equally an important consideration in outdoor communication.
To determine the proper size, the viewing distance must be considered. A headline must be legible at any reasonable distance, starting from at least 400 feet. As illustrated below, a letter height of 20 inches is recommended. No letters should be less than 12 inches in height if we are to communicate a message effectively at a distance. Letters 4 inches high are included simply to illustrate what happens to letters this high at a distance.
LEGIBILITY OF TYPEFACES
Sufficient kerning between letters assures legibility from far distances. Tight kerning reduces legibility causing adjacent letters to attach together visually. Without proper kerning “clear morning” could be interpreted as “dear moming.”
A single horizontal line of text allows rapid assimilation of a message without interruption. Multiple text lines increase the time needed to discern a message.
If more than one text line is necessary, use adequate leading between lines. When a line of text rides on the line below the interplay of descenders and ascenders it will make a message difficult to read.
- Crowding letters into a restricted space will reduce legibility.
- Severely contrasting letter strokes will lose definition when viewed from far distances.
- Thin typefaces will become invisible from far distances.
- Bulky typefaces lose distinction between letters.
- Script typefaces are difficult to read at any distance.
TEXT LEGIBILITY CHART
- Product Identification
Make sure you can read the advertiser’s name.
- Short Copy
No more than 10 words total, and 5 words in the headline.
- Short Words
Use short words for faster comprehension.
- Large and Legible Type
Words are viewed from distances of 400-800 feet. Any text that is integral to the design should be as large as possible.
- Increase Line Thickness
At 600 feet, thin lines optically disappear.
- Forget “The Whitespace” Rule
This rule does not apply to Outdoor. Unlike Print, the actual viewing size is too small. It’s like having a 1″x3″ newspaper ad with a lot of white space.
- Bold Colors
Dare to be bold! Being subtle at 600 feet doesn’t work.
- High Contrast
High contrast means better visibility.
- Simplify Everything
Focus on one key idea or message.
- View From 15 Feet
View your creative from 15 feet. This simulates viewing from the road.
Does it read well? Make sure your art is legible before it hits the streets.
- View For 5 Seconds
View your creative for 5 seconds. This simulates driving past the billboard.
Can you read the entire message in 5 seconds, if not your drivers will miss your message too.