Banner Letter Sizes - What You Need To Know

As a rule of thumb, the main message or headline of your vinyl banner should always be the largest, easiest to read element on the sign. For maximum impact, it is important to provide letters in an appropriate size for the intended viewing distance. Obviously, the further away a person is, the larger the printed letters should be to maintain the ability to easily read the banner. While a good guideline is that letters should be approximately one inch tall per ten feet of viewing distance, we’ve put together the following chart to aid you with your specific design.
Banner Lettering Visibility Chart
Letter HeightBest LegibilityMaximum Distance
3”30’100’
4”40’150’
6”60’200’
8”80’350’
9”90’400’
10”100’450’
12”120'525’
15”150'630’
18”180'750’
24”240'1,000’
30”300'1,250’
36”360'1,500’
48”480'2,000’
60”600'2,500'

As you can see, a good rule of thumb is every 1 inch of letter height provides 10 feet of readability with the best impact. For example, 3” tall letters make the best impact within 30 feet; however, they can still be seen and read from up to 100’ away.

Pay close attention to the size of your banner design, which you want to be easily recognized, read and understood from a distance. One-inch-tall letters might seem large to you up-close, but on a 4-foot tall banner, they’ll be hard to read from more than a couple dozen feet away. If you’re not sure, draw some large letters on computer paper and pace off the distance of your viewing area. If you want customers to be able to read your banner from 100 feet away, you should be able to read your letters from that same distance.

On the other hand, if your customers will be up-close, you don’t want to make your letters so large that they can’t be read from 5 feet away. In short, designing the perfect sign is all about finding the right combination of high visibility and average viewing distance.

Letter Placement Area

An understanding of how large the letters should be on any signage involves creating optimum viewer legibility. The copy area of a sign is that portion of the sign face encompassing the lettering and the space between the letters, as well as any symbols, illustrations, or other graphic elements. It is a critical component of effective letter size selection because it establishes the relationship between the message and the negative space necessary to provide the sign with reasonable legibility over distance.

Factors That Affect Letter Size Selection
  • Thickness of letters

    Thinner letters will be harder to read. Choose a simple bold font that will help grab attention. Test out letter sizes in your office by printing out a word or two and taping it up on the wall.

  • White Space

    White space is the open area around the copy. We recommend using the 40/60 rule. Generally, copy should take up 40% of the sign, and 60% should be white space. This will allow your words to “breathe” and be more readable. White space will help correctly sized letters contrast with the background and stand out to the reader.

  • Kerning

    Kerning is the space between the letters. This will go hand in hand with white space. Spacing your letters too closely will make the copy very hard to read. Don’t make the mistake of having extremely large letters, extremely close together; this will heavily reduce the readability of the copy.

Letter Sizes for Moving Readers
banner readability chart

If you plan on placing your signage along a road, you need to do some research regarding the speed limit, number of lanes, how busy the road is and if the sign will be near a stoplight or stop sign. The size of your letters need to be large enough to read in the few seconds you have the viewer’s attention.

A quick reference guide is shown to the left

Calculating Banner Letter Height Formula
Letter Height Formula:
LH = (LN x 10 + SD) / 5
Formula Key
LH is letter height in inches
LN is the number of lanes of traffic
SD is the sign distance from curb in feet
Use Example
2 lane roadway
Sign distance is 37 feet from the curb
LH = (2 x 10 + 37) / 5
The appropriate letter height is 11.4 inches.

If an exact determination of letter height is required for a specific sign, an easy to use formula can provide you with the information you need. The following equation can be used to determine accurate letter heights for signs by taking into account the number of lanes of travel and the distance of the sign from the curb.