Part 5: The Science of Outdoor Signs and Banners


How to Calculate the Area of an Outdoor Sign When Placed Parallel to the Street

Original Question: We are designing some banners for our business, and are discussing what colors to use on them. What input can you give us regarding contrast and overall banner color design.

Continuing Answer: Part 5 will specifically deal with parallel signs. We may have slightly over-answered the question, but all of what we’ve outlined here supports the color question. All of the topics relate back to the issue of your sign being seen, so color is important, and so is the size, how fast traffic passes your business, and how much time a driver has to view your sign.

It is not difficult to imagine that parallel signs are more difficult to see than are perpendicular signs, as they’re not jumping out in front of you like the perpendicular signs do. However, imagination is worth only so much, so the USSC (United States Sign Council) set out to make scientific formulas and equations that would give us a mathematical model to work with.

It is often virtually impossible to see some signs because of their orientation, especially at longer distances, at higher speeds, and with multiple lanes of traffic. Perpendicular signs can also block visibility of parallel signs or banners. There is also a shortening and angular distortion that occurs as you approach a parallel sign, and the sign will disappear more quickly once you do make visual contact. The following illustrates how a driver might see parallel signage –

Angular View of Parallel Signs

As you can see from this illustration, there are three things that place a parallel sign at a disadvantage to perpendicular signs. First, because of the angle, they’re more difficult to read as the message is distorted from the front of the sign to the furthest distance the sign is from your viewing position. Second, the sign disappears into the driver’s peripheral vision more quickly because the viewing angle is above 30 degrees, so viewing time is compressed. Third, if the sign is set back off the street like many parallel signs are, they are significantly outside the driver’s cone of vision. When this is the case, the driver has to take quick, fraction-of-a-second sideways glances to get a glimpse of the sign. Often a driver cannot find the sign at all.

In the USSC study, Real World On-Premise Sign Visibility, people were asked to drive through a shopping mall parking lot and locate specific signs. Virtually all perpendicular signs were located, but about 30 percent of all parallel signs were missed completely, even though they averaged two to three times larger than the perpendicular signs. The drivers were looking for all the specified signs, but missed nearly a third of the parallel signs!

Because of a parallel sign’s propensity for being overlooked, we cannot use the equations that we used for perpendicular signs to create letter height for parallel signs as they will not give the driver adequate time to see the signs. In the past 4 sections of this article, we noted that for a sign to be seen, the viewer must have a certain amount of time to react once he or she has seen the sign (VRT), and the VRT, combined with the speed at which the driver is travelling, tells us the approximate VRD (viewer reaction distance). And that we can calculate the size of sign needed using the LI, or legibility index.

All that info is out the window, so to speak, when we are forced to use a parallel sign for our business. The hope is that you can utilize both, but there are some times and places where this option is simply not available. With parallel signs, what is more important is line of sight angle as well as the ability to view the sign in successive quick glances.

Research has determined that the angle of this viewing should be no less than 30 degrees from the driver’s line of sight. This, with the number of lanes on the street or highway and the sign’s distance from the curb, determines the Maximum Available Legibility Distance (MALD). This is much different though, than the VRD of a perpendicular sign in that the most that one can expect from the driver is a few very quick glances without dramatically increasing the possibility of an accident.

The same research determined also that the size of the letters would need to be increased by a factor of three, then leveled off, not improving much as the size increased beyond three. Therefore, what was, on the Legibility Index (LI) as a 30 will now be a 10, and to get the same reading as a 30, it will be 30 x 3 = 90. So, then, a perpendicular sign with 17” letters at 500’ away would need to have 50” letters at 500’ if the sign’s orientation were parallel.

There are two parallel sign letter height equations that can be used to determine the letter height and sign area needed for these signs.

Equation #1: LH = (LN x 10 + LO) / 5

Equation #2: LH = (LN x 10 + LO) / (LI / 6)

  • Variable Data:
  1. LH is letter height in inches.
  2. LN is the number of lanes of traffic.
  3. LO is the lateral offset from curb in feet.
  4. LI is the legibility index from Table 1

Equation #1 would work like this…

LN = 2 Lane Road

LO = Lateral Offset from the curb which is 37 feet

LH = Letter Height, which for this equation is unknown but will be determined by the equation

LH = (2 x 10 + 37) / 5 so that the letter height would be 11.4”

Equation #2 would work like this…

LN = 2 Lane Road

LO = Lateral Offset from the curb which is 37 feet

LH = Letter Height, which for this equation is unknown but will be determined by the equation

LI = 22

LH = (2 x 10 + 37) / (22/6) so that the LH is about 15.5”

For quick reference, the USSC has provided this chart to give you a sketch of letter sizes needed for various viewing distances and offsets.

Letter Height Index For Parallel Signs

If your sign professional does not use scientific calculations to determine how best to advertise your business, either with a permanent main ID sign or with a temporary banner advertising your upcoming sale or new service, you may want to consider finding someone who REALLY knows what they’re doing, because right now, they’re burning your money.


Part 4: The Science of Outdoor Signs and Banners


How to Calculate the Area Needed for Outdoor Business Signs or Banners

Original Question: We are designing some banners for our business, and are discussing what colors to use on them. What input can you give us regarding contrast and overall banner color design.

Continuing Answer: In this section, Part 4 of this series, we’ll start by looking at more precise calculations for determining the area needed for a sign or banner.

Personally, I am not a big fan of algebra, but sometimes the easiest way to calculate what the Area of a sign (Asign) is by using one, especially if someone else has already done the work to come up with it, which, in our case, the USSC has already done for us.

The only part of the equation that is left out is the negative space calculation, which is fixed at a 40/60 ratio with the copy area, or Copy Area x 1.5. Note that number rounding – which I do frequently – will yield a slight variance in copy area/negative space. As this is an inexact science to a degree, this rounding will likely have little affect on readability of your signs or banners. This is essentially the same formula used in Part 3, but it’s simplified from the 10 step equation to this –

Sign Area Calculation Formula

  • Fixed Value:
  1. 40/60 ratio of copy area to negative space
  • Variable Values:
  1. N = number of letters
  2. VRT = Viewer Reaction Time
  3. MPH = Miles Per Hour being traveled
  4. LI = Legibility Index

How do I use this equation in the real world? First, take the number of letters (N) and multiply it times 3, then divide that by 80. In our banner in Part 3, we had 20 letters (GRAND OPENING THIS WEEK). So, we’d take 3 x 60 /80 = .75. Set that number aside.

Next, we want to multiply our VRT – 10 seconds – times the MPH – 40mph = 400, divide it by the LI – 30 = 13.33 – and square it = 178 rounded up. Now multiply 178 x .75 and your sign’s square footage would be 133.5. Much simpler than the longhand equation, methinks!

An even simpler equation, but with more fixed values, is this algebraic equation –

Second Formula of Sign Area Calculation

  • Fixed Values:
  1. Number of Letters – 30
  2. LI (Legibility Index) – 30
  3. Copy Area/Neg. Space – 60/40
  • Variable Values:
  1. VRT (Viewer Reaction Time)
  2. MPH (miles per hour)

This equation works quite simply as you multiply view reaction time – 10 seconds – times the miles per hour – 50mph = 500 and then square it = 250,000 and divide it by 800 = 312. This is the area of your sign.

Now you’d need to know that you’ll have 30 – 30in. letters, which is a fixed value above, and that these letters will fit into this area. You may need to vary the sign area if the words require it, like we did on the Grand Opening banner in the last section.

The chart below gives you some basic guidelines for freestanding perpendicular signs based on the size of the sign, view reaction time (VRT), speed of the vehicle (MPH), and lane complexity.

Lane Speed Variables for Signs

This illustration tells you how the sign sizing changes with speed –

Sign Dimensions according to vehicle speed

Illustration from Street Graphics and the Law,

American Planning Association, 2004

In the final installment of this series, Part 5, I’ll discuss parallel signs. These present their own challenge, so I will deal with them completely separately from the previously discussed signage.


Part 3: The Science of Outdoor Signs and Banners


How to Calculate the Negative Space and Copy Area of Outdoor Signs for Best Viewer Impact

Original Question: We are designing some banners for our business, and are discussing what colors to use on them. What input can you give us regarding contrast and overall banner color design.

Continuing Answer: As we have talked about in parts one and two in this article, just throwing a banner up on a wall or a sign on a pole could be some of the worst money you’ll ever waste if you don’t have a “scientific” method for determining the size of letters, negative space, and viewing distance for your sign, coupled with the reaction time an ordinary driver will have when they view your sign at 35 mph – give or take.

In this article, we’ll talk about copy area in combination with negative space to give your potential customer the best chance of reading your business advertising banners or main identification signage.

The copy area of any banner or sign is the area of that sign covered by lettering, including the space between the letters, but not between lines of copy. When we are talking about lettering, this also will include any other graphics, photos, or illustrations that might be used, including your business logo, which may or may not include any copy or the name of your  firm.

The copy area is of paramount importance, in combination with the negative space on your outdoor banners and/or sign, because it is what gives your sign decent legibility over an extended distance – which is where your potential clients will more than likely be viewing your sign from. The following illustration demonstrates copy area/negative space. On the left you see a typical sign face or banner, and on the right, a visual illustration of the copy area.

negative space sample sign

Negative space is that area that is not in the copy/logo area. As stated previously, without this area, your sign or banner would be rendered virtually unreadable, and if too little negative space is appropriated, it can have damaging affects on the readability of your sign or banners.

The following illustration shows the percentage recommended by the United States Sign Council as a “rule of thumb” for negative space on your advertising signs. The bottom illustration shows the combined percentages grouped. Typically, approximately 40% of the sign surface should be the negative space component of its readability, and approximately 60% should be copy. Again, this is a basic guideline, so if you are at 42% and 58%, you would be likely be within good design characteristics for your signage.

Rule of thumb in Sign Spacing


As we’ve been discussing, there are factors such as VRT (Viewer Reaction Time), VRD (Viewer Reaction Distance), Letter Height, Copy Area, and Negative Space that need to be determined, and once these factors have been determined, it is possible to determine the size of sign your business will require.

There are 10 steps used to determine the size of banner or sign needed. They are as follows –

  1. Determine speed of travel (MPH) in feet per second (FPS): (MPH x 1.47)
  2. Determine Viewer Reaction Time (VRT)
  3. Determine Viewer Reaction Distance (VRT x FPS)
  4. Determine Letter Height in inches by reference to the Legibility Index (LI): (VRD/LI)
  5. Determine Single Letter Area in square inches (square the letter height to obtain area occupied by single letter and its adjoining letter space)
  6. Determine Single Letter Area in square feet: Single Letter Area in square inches/144)
  7. Determine Copy Area (Single Letter Area in square feet x total number of letters plus area of any symbols in square feet)
  8. Determine Negative Space Area at 60% of Sign Area (Copy Area x 1.5)
  9. Add Copy Area to Negative Space Area
  10. Result is Area of Sign in square feet

Let’s see how this works in “real” life…

  1. Our car is travelling at 45mph – so 45 x 1.47 = 66 feet per second (FPS)
  2. In a multi-lane high speed environment, as we determined in part one of this article, the viewer will need about 12 seconds to react
  3. Our equation to ascertain the Viewer Reaction Distance  would be 66fps x 12sec = 792 ft (VRD)
  4. 792 feet is our VRD. We’ll arbitrarily, for this calculation, use the LI of 30 from part 2 of this series. The formula here is 792 / 30 = 27 inch letters
  5. The area of a single 27 inch letter would be 729 square inches per letter – 27² inches
  6. 729 / 144 = approx. 5 square feet per letter
  7. For our purposes, we are going to have a banner made that says “GRAND OPENING THIS WEEK” – so our formula here will be 20 letters x 5 sq. ft. per letter = 100 square feet
  8. Negative space will be 100 x 1.5 = 150 square feet
  9. Your designer can now determine the approximate size of your banner based on this calculation by adding the copy to the negative space

Based on the above calculation, our 28 ft. x 7 ft. banner might look something like this –

Grand Opening Banner Sign Sample

In Part 4, we’ll go into specific formulations for the area of a sign that hone in a little more scientifically on how we calculate signs both in perpendicular and parallel environments.


Part 2: The Science of Outdoor Signs and Banners


How to Calculate the Letter and Graphic Sizes for Outdoor Advertising Signs and Banners

Original Question: We are designing some banners for our business, and are discussing what colors to use on them. What input can you give us regarding contrast and overall banner color design.

Continuing Answer: As stated in part one of this series, I am borrowing heavily from the USSC publication “Sign Legibility Rules of Thumb” in order to show you, dear reader, that you just can’t slap up a cheap, poorly designed sign and expect the world to beat a path to your business’ door.

If this were the case, the big corporations would not have huge signs with huge letters beckoning you from three counties away. They do it for a reason, and this article will continue to elucidate to you why it is important to have your outdoor business signs and banners professionally designed by designers who actually understand the “rules” of color, distances, contrast, and size.

The USSC has developed a “Legibility Index” (LI) which is a number value which represents the distance (in feet) that a letter can be read. The LI for a one inch capital san serif letter would be 30, meaning that you should be able, with normal vision, to see that letter at about 30 feet, or a ten inch letter at 300 feet. Surprisingly, all capital letters need about 15% more height than do upper and lower case lettering combinations.

The chart below was developed by the USSC to help illuminated sign and graphic designers determine viewing distance with factors such as the type of illumination, letter style, background color, letter color, and size of letter.

Legibility Index Table The calculation for your sign’s viewing distance, using the chart above, combined with our previous VRD formula (Viewer Reaction Distance), to create the letter height formula by dividing the VRD by the LI to calculate the letter height needed for a sign.

Reviewing our terms so far –

VRT = Viewer Reaction Time

VRD = Viewer Reaction Distance

LI = Legibility Index

To illustrate this, let’s say your target driver needs to see your sign at 600 feet away, based on our previous calculation (VRD = MPH x VRT or 1.47), and the LI is 30, your letters should be 20 inches in height.

The calculation for this would look like this – VRD (600’) divided by the LI (30) equals 20 feet. In strictly numeric values, 600/30 = 20. In word form, VRD (in feet) / LI = Letter Height (in inches. Yeah, it’s a bit complicated, but it takes the guesswork out of your sign design.

And most of the time, by the way, the LI used is 30, which keeps it simple if slightly less accurate. In our design, we simply err size-wise about 20% larger than what the index states, so that if it says we need a 20” letter, more often than not, we’ll prescribe a 24” letter. With exterior signs or banners, bigger IS better (if allowed by your local sign codes).

So, to review everything in Parts 1 and 2 that I’ve outlined, we’ve learned that your prospective sign viewer is affected by –

1)    Number of Traffic Lanes

2)    Speed of Traffic

3)    Viewer’s Reaction Time (based on the previous two factors)

4)    Viewer’s Reaction Distance (also based on the first two factors)

5)    Type of Letters Used on Your Sign

6)    Colors Used on Your Sign Letters

7)    Background Color of Sign

8)    Type of Illumination Used – or not used

And you thought it was just a banner!?

There are more exact legibility calculations put out by the USSC – the “On-Premise Sign Standards” – which provides more precise formulas and guidelines for complex areas. However, for most exterior banners or signs, in our opinion, these guidelines suffice quite well.

Of course, we cannot leave the design simply at six words with letters that contain 24 inch letters. We need to design your sign so as to be maximally readable. That means that with your 24 inch letters, we also will need to calculate the “negative space” – or the area between and outside the letters – to properly calculate the overall size of the sign.

The first consideration you have, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view of signs in relation to the beauty of an area or in relation to the utility of the sign (in other words, a big sign is more useful to commerce and a healthy economy versus a large sign is an eyesore and unnecessary), will be your local sign codes and ordinances.

personalized carved wooden sandblasted signage

For most sign professionals, this is simply an evil that goes with the territory, and some territories have more “Sign Nazis” than other areas. The wealthier an area, we’ve noted, the more restrictive the sign codes. Exclusivity seems to flow outward from wealthier neighborhoods.

The 2nd major factor will be cost. What type of sign can or will your business afford. It is my opinion, after over two decades in this industry, that most companies will spend too much money on the interior of their store, and too little on their exterior advertising, particularly their main identification signage (MIS).

Your sign, I like to say, is your business suit and tie, your first impression. A sign that is too small and/or poorly designed is like your great uncle Theodore who still wears that horrible polyester suit he bought when he was at USC in 1973!

So, having insulted badly designed signs and your uncle in the same sentence, let me tell you how a sign should be designed – properly.

As we’ve already covered, viewing distance and size of letters is very important, but so is the negative space around those letters and/or logo. This is, in some ways, just as important as the size of your lettering. Note that channel letters or dimensional letters do not fit this description, as general rule, because the negative space is the wall that they are mounted on. The letters themselves then, are the sign, so if you need 24 inch letters as determined by your VRD calculations, 24 inch individually mounted letters should be effective.

So, back to negative space. We have decided, for this discussion, that we’ll be using a panel sign, so the above paragraph is not of interest to this sign. With a flat panel sign, wherever the letters are is called the copy area. The area outside of this area is the negative space, and the same applies between lines of copy. It is this area that comprises the background of the sign, and contributes to the readability of the sign. By combining the size of the copy area and the size of the area of the background, we can now calculate the overall size of the sign.

In PART 3 of this series, we’ll discuss how to calculate how much negative space is needed in relation to the copy.


Part 1: The Science of Outdoor Signs and Banners


Effective Sign Advertising – Size of Letters and Quantity of Words in Relation to Traffic Speed and Number of Lanes

Question: We are designing some banners for our business, and are discussing what colors to use on them. What input can you give us regarding contrast and overall banner color design.

Answer: This is an excellent question. Most people want to put the 23rd Psalm (so to speak) on a banner and expect that passersby by will be able to decipher it from their automobile. I’ve seen examples of this where someone used red letters on a black background, and quite frankly, it was unreadable from just a few feet away because there were too many words and too little color contrast.

Outdoor teardrop banners

The United States Sign Council has done extensive research on the issue of color, distance, contrast, and other issues of readability that most outdoor sign designers, as far as I can tell, have never read nor understand if they have. Most of the following information is available in more detail in the USSC publication “Sign Legibility Rules of Thumb.”

A useful sign, unless you have brand recognition like, say, Bank of America or Home Depot, will be bold, readable, and use minimal copy. However, it will also be positioned in a way that makes it readable from the street or highway your business fronts on, and this will mean that size and viewing angle will also figure in.

According to Andrew Bertucci of the United States Sign Council (USSC), “Detecting and reading a roadside on-premise sign by a motorist involves complex series of sequentially occurring events, both mental and physical.They include message detection and processing, intervals of eye and/or head movement alternating between the sign and the road environment, and finally, active maneuvering of the vehicle (such as lane changes, deceleration, and turning into a destination) as required in response to the stimulus provided by the sign.”

In other words, there’s a lot going on for a passing motorist/potential customer, so you better make sure your business’ outdoor banner or sign is designed with full impact in mind, or it is not going to maximize your business’ potential.

For instance, it is important to realize that a driver’s view is somewhat impaired through the windshield of a vehicle and becomes more so as the distance diminishes. At 40mph, as an example, you lose 58 feet of viewing distance every second, and at 60mph that increases to 88 feet of viewing distance lost every second.

Moreover, the angle of the viewing distance will also change rapidly at 40mph, and the further the sign or banners is from the street, highway, or road, the more rapidly readability is lost. The term coined by the USSC for this is VRT, or Viewer Reaction Time.

Much research has been done by the USSC on VRT, providing quantification for your sign’s viewability. Because the passing car driver also has to maneuver his vehicle – signaling, changing lanes, speeding up or slowing down, and turning – the VRT will be somewhat compromised, so the quantification of letter height, coloring, and contrast is theoretical in nature, but still must be addressed in order to get the most out of your business main identification signs or temporary advertising banners.

To compensate for the reduced reading time due to the variables mentioned in the previous paragraph, the tips I’m giving you here can make the difference between your sign being read or not being read. Parallel signs will always be more difficult to see, so if there is an option to place your sign perpendicular to the street, ALWAYS use this option. Parallel signs make it difficult to maneuver in traffic quickly enough to get across a lane or two to get to your business, so again, place your business’ outdoor signage perpendicular to the street if at all possible.

Most free standing signs and wall signs are perpendicular to the street, and some businesses have the distinct advantage of having at least on wall facing traffic that will have a unidirectional perpendicular sign. This illustration shows these three types of perpendicular signs:

Sign Markers in Perpendicular form

Insofar as possible, sign companies are tasked with placing these signs within the so-called “visual cone” which is approximately 10 degrees to the right and 10 degrees to the left, which is the comfortable peripheral vision area (without having to move your head too much) from behind the steering wheel of your automobile. You can typically view signs within this range until you pass them.

Cone Vision

As described above, the VRT (Viewer ReactionTime) is a quantified average time it takes for a driver viewing a business’ sign or banner, and it varies with speed. As a general rule, it takes a person traveling (in a multi-lane environment) under 35mph about 8 seconds to read six words on a banner, 10 seconds at 35mph, and 11-12 seconds over 35mph to read those same six words.

Because multi-lane driving takes more time to maneuver, approximately half of the reading time above is calculated as time involved in driver maneuvering. This leads to the Driver Reaction Distance calculation for how long it takes for the driver to see the sign, then react in order to safely maneuver an exit to the store or facility being sought.

This metric is important because it will determine the size of letters needed so as to be viewed from a specific linear distance in order to give the driver sufficient VRD to navigate his or her vehicle to the store’s parking lot entry point. So the calculation for sizing the letters necessary for your sign would be VRD = MPH x VRT or 1.47. So, if a driver is traveling 35mph, the calculation for the VRD would be 35 x 1.47 = 52 ft. per second. So, if the driver needs 10 seconds at this speed, the readability distance for the sign would be 520 ft.

In the next installment of this article I’ll discuss how to determine what letter size to use for your sign of up to six words. You can read the next part here: PART 2

To check out directly on banner print displays, get here:

For signs made from metals, plastics, and wood, visit this page:


Outdoor Signs – Visibility of Letters, Amount of Copy, & Readability


Outdoor Banner Signs: Letter Height Visibility, Amount of Copy, and Readability in Traffic

Question: I need a banner that is visible from 150 to 200 feet away as cars are driving past my business. What letter height should I have on the banner to make sure passing motorists see my business’ banner?

This is a very good question that many graphic designers completely ignore in designing outdoor signs and banners, but is perhaps the most important question that you can ask. The other question that I would pair with this is, “How much copy can be read in that 150 to 200 feet.”

Pole Banner Print Displays It is important to know how fast traffic moves by the banner or sign on your business, and brand recognition can be helpful for customers looking for your business in keeping your copy to a minimum.

However, most companies do NOT have brand recognition like major banks or retail store chains, so they’re stuck with educating passersby of what their particular business does or can do for them.

A Short Illustration

Let’s say that you are looking for a computer repair store because your laptop’s hard drive froze up. You look online for a company that repairs laptop computers in your town or city, and come up with a company that looks like it will be perfect for the repair. You call them, and sure enough, you like what they say, so you hop in your car to take your laptop to their shop.

So far, this business is doing everything right. Their online presence is decent, and they answered their phone promptly and told you what you wanted to know and that they could, indeed, repair your laptop and recover your lost data.

So you drive to the address given, but there is a banner advertising computer games for as low as $20, but nothing else. Do you have the right store? Are they qualified to repair computers? It would be better for this store to have just a sign with their business name and a brief description of services than no sign and a banner advertising video games.

When a potential client is seeking your business, they do NOT want anything to seem amiss. From the online search to the phone call, if made, to the appearance of the business, to the appearance and knowledgeability of the employees once you actually enter the business.

Visibility of Letters in Relation to Viewing Distance

However, the original question, which I’ve strayed from momentarily to give you, dear reader, some great marketing advice, had to do with letter height and distances. I have the following letter height chart showing how tall of a letter you need to be able to read it from a specific distance. Disclaimer: this assumes you have fairly normal vision with our without glasses or contacts.

Visibility Chart For Outdoor SignsThis chart is by no means exhaustive. There are a lot of other factors that affect readability such as light conditions, pitch or angle of the sign from the street where your customer is driving by, speed at which the customer may be driving, color combinations of letters, whether the letters are neon, electrical, or appliqued to a banner, etc.

It is instructive to note that a 16” letter, though, is readable from about a city block away, or 360 ft., just a bit longer than an American football field. It is also instructive to note that the list in the previous paragraph gives you a pretty good idea of other variables, so the size above is not “set in stone.” Typically, the average reader can digest about 5 words at 40 miles per hour at a distance of a city block, so the rule of thumb for your outdoor business signs or banners is to keep it simple and readable. Your customers will appreciate you for it.

To get more details on banner graphic displays, go to this page:

If you are looking for signs aside from banners above, visit here:


Ordering Banners Online and Materials Used for Outdoor Banners


Online Purchases of Banner Displays and Types of Materials for Outdoor Banners

Question: How do I order banners online?

retractable L banner Stands If you want to order banners from an online company, it is pretty simple to just google “buy banners online” or some similar phrase, and you should be able to come up with a few companies that you can order banners from online.

However, if you’re looking for a website where you can design your own banner on the website, there will be fewer of those, but most will have the ability to upload your artwork to their templates, if you have the computer know-how to do so.

Personally, I like to order my business cards from companies that have online ordering capabilities, because I know exactly what I’ll be getting.

However, in the case of banners, we don’t offer online purchasing or design because our clientele is generally more upscale (larger firms and advertising agencies) and simply FTP (free through put) their pre-designed files to us and we have them printed, using either dye sublimation printing on polyester fabric or digital print to vinyl banner material.


Question: What types of banner materials are used out of doors?

There are two basic materials used for banners. PVC, or vinyl, and fabric. There are, of course, lots of sub-categories of these two items, and I’ll try to give a brief answer to a sort of complex question.

Vinyl Banners

hanging PVC banners Vinyl banners have been the work horse of the graphics industry for close to 30 years or more. Because of the weather resistance of this material, it was originally hand painted or screen printed, then with technological advances, lettered with vinyl graphics (some smaller shops still use this method), and now, for the most part, are printed digitally with digital roll to roll printers which are as wide as 16’ or more with some of the larger printers.

Vinyl banners come in heavy, medium, and lighter weights, and are purchased at these weights according to the locations where they’ll be used. High wind areas will need the heavier-duty material, whereas a wall-mounted exterior banner might only need a light or medium weight banner.

However, the one banner material that is used possibly 90% of the time is the 13oz vinyl banner material, now available with a blockout layer so as to be able to make it a double-sided banner. You can find more information regarding banners made from vinyl materials here

Vinyl Mesh Banners

Vinyl mesh is another material that is readily available and is used in venues where wind is a factor, although the most wind it sheds is around 85%, which is not a lot if you have a very large mesh banner, but may be enough to warrant it’s usage.

Cloth or Fabric Banners

printed fabric flag banner displays There are heavy fabric banner materials that are also used outside for street pole banners and the like, and it is becoming more popular to use lighter weight polyester fabrics for outdoor display banners as well, although it is still, and in my opinion will remain, more popular to use cloth banners indoors.

As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that fabric banners will become more popular indoors, if they’re not already, in a matter of time. They simply look better and last for many years due to the dye sub printing method used to infuse the actual fiber of the fabric with permanent color. Indoors, dye sub printed banners are said to last up to 30 years. Good thing they’re washable!

For banners designed in polyester fabric materials, you can get more details about them in here


Using Banners Profitably For Your Business


Effective Usage of Banner Print Displays to Increase Profits

Question: What are some profitable ways to use banners for my business?

There are a lot of ways you can use banners profitably in your business. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can accomplish what you need to do with banners.

2 Major Types of Banners

Before I start, though, I will mention that there are two major types of banners that are used in most businesses – vinyl (PVC) and cloth, or fabric, usually polyester.

polyvinyl plastic outdoor banners Vinyl banners are typically printed digitally or screen printed. As digital printers have gotten larger and faster, printing of vinyl banners is now done, in a majority of cases, with digital printers. Up until recently, vinyl banners were the favorite material to use for out-of-door banners, but that is starting to change.

Long runs of vinyl banners are still less expensive to print using screen printing, but most companies need a few or hundreds, not thousands of banners. The digital printing age has also ushered in personalization of banners to various locations or branches of a chain of stores that was not available 15 years ago.

Polyester fabric banners are printed using a dye sublimation process, which is about as close to photo-reprographics as you can get in the large format print industry. The printers are either “direct-to-substrate” dye sublimation or heat transfer. The direct printers are gaining popularity because they are easier and quicker to operate. The heat transfer dye sublimation process is done utilizing several steps, whereas direct dye sub printing is a single step process.

That’s the basic primer on printing banners and what’s available for use to advertise your product, business, or service. Now, on to effective and profitable uses for your banners, whichever type you prefer.

For Outdoor Banner Display

When using outdoor banners, you may choose between vinyl and cloth banners, and though most companies opt for vinyl as it’s still marginally less costly, outdoor fabric banners are becoming more common as the dye sub process makes the ink virtually indestructible, and quite frankly, fabric just looks better.

But if you’re driving by a 100 foot by 8 foot banner, it’s unlikely that the quality of print is going to be a significant factor in what the banner says, so most clients are still opting for vinyl banners for this usage.

If you have a sale, for instance, on breakfast cereal, that you need to feature to passing motorists, you may not need a 100 foot long banner, but a 4 foot by 12 foot banner might fit the bill if traffic is passing your grocery store at 35 MPH.

Or, if you have a new business selling computer repair services, and traffic whizzes by your location at 50 MPH, you might want to consider a larger banner, say 5 feet by 20 feet, to let potential clients know you’re in business.

For Indoor Banner Display

Inside your store, I would almost insist that fabric banners or posters will lend a much classier look to your store, which should, in turn, give your potential clients a sense that you care about how your store looks and how you are going to look over their computer.

These in-store banners may announce specials, new services offered, or anything else you want to feature that will tell your store’s customers what you’re up to and how it can help them out of their bind.

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