What is the best height for outdoor signage

It’s always good to be on top...isn’t it? Shouldn’t you take the opportunity to be lifted up where you belong every chance you get?

Shouldn’t these maxims and platitudes apply to outdoor signage?

One would think so, but no one can assume that the top is the place to be until a little research is conducted.

Deduce The Man

As we often point out on our blog, the outdoor signage is often subjected to terms and conditions. For those who rent the space, the rules are often very clearly laid out on the lease. There are often price premiums for the top locations on streetside signs and signage in the anchor locations.

For those who own the space, the signage is still restricted to city / metro, county, state and federal size restrictions. In an extreme example, placing a sign that interrupts local air and flight restrictions will get you a legal order to have it taken down. Other such restrictions would include lines-of-sight regulations, especially in travel and tourist destinations, and signage that would interrupt travel signage.

Determine the market

Every business’ needs are different. Some need to be established on their street. Some just need to be found in accordance with their Google Maps directions. Others can have have unique logistical opportunities near highway and interstate exits - provided that they are allowed the clearance. Determining the flow of traffic for the business will help determine signage.

Devise the message

When it comes to outdoor signage, the rule of thumb is that “shorter is better.” It’s hard to be memorable if someone has trouble remembering what the sign said. Keeping a short catchy message will make it easier for folks to read. Phone numbers can work, so long as it is easy for your customers to memorize.

In this step, it is good to have multiple messages because once step 4 is reached - do the math - some messages might be too big for the space allowed.

Do the math

Once the restrictions are noted, the market is determined and the message is written, it’s time to decide the message that will best fit within the size allowed to determine the size and price of the sign.

Sample sizes for letter signs

Here’s a couple standards for letter heights:

  • a letter 3” tall can be read from 100’-120’. Their best visibility is typically 30’.
  • a letter 10” tall can be seen from 400’-450’. The best visibility is typically 100’.
  • a letter 15” tall can be seen from 600’-630’. The best visibility is typically 150’.

For a full table of letter heights, please visit the following links.

Sample outdoor sign standards

Here are a few sample outdoor sign standards.

  • 96”x48”
  • 48”x48”
  • 48”x24”

For a full list, please visit the following table.


It’s never an easy climb to the top

But with these sample measurements and guidelines, you should be able to make the pennies stretch as you find the optimal location for your sign, whether it’s on top, out in the open or somewhere in between.