Typography Best Practices

Great typography plays a huge role in the effectiveness of digital media. The great news is that you don’t need to be a type geek to build great looking slides. Just follow our simple tutorial and be on your way to content greatness!

Use an Easy to Read Typeface

Your typically digital signage viewer will easily be 5-10 feet away from your digital signs so make sure that your message stands out! Avoid ornamental or distressed typography and stick with an easy to read sans-serif typeface.

Don’t know the difference between serif and sans-serif? It’s easy. Serif typefaces such as Times New Roman, Georgia or Garamond include small finishing lines at the end of the letter. Sans-serif typefaces such as Helvetica, Arial or Myriad do not have the finishing lines. The diagram to the right demonstrates this point.

Select the Right Size

Type size plays just as large a role in your digital signage content readability. The handy chart to the left outlines a good rule of thumb for the minimum size based on desired readability.

Screen position and use case will dictate how you justify maximum readability distance. IE: a lobby sign running welcome/marketing content, positioned near seating or a desk probably won’t need to be viewable for further 10-15 feet. However, a screen hanging from a ceiling running call data for a call center may need to be viewable from 30-50’.

Limit your characters

This one is pretty straightforward. The simpler the message, the more effective the communication will be. You will have, on average, 3-6 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Longer messages can be broken up into bits and animated together.

Line it up

When spacing headlines and body copy, make sure you keep everything even and lined up. Typically a headline

Hint: CommandCenterHD’s guides help make this process very simple

Four Easy Typography Rules for Digital Signs

  1. The Shorter; The Better:
    Twitter’s got the right idea. Make it fit in 140 characters. No exceptions. That way, you don’t bog down the person reading your sign with info they don’t need (or even want). Make them want to read it. Let them enjoy reading it. So yes, keep it short. If you absolutely, positively can’t trim down your message, consider spreading the content over 2 or 3 slides or creating a video.
  2. Use a Clear Hierarchy
    Make sure when writing your text that your content utilizes some type of hierarchy. For example, preface text with a headline or graphic that indicates what the viewers are about to read. Make important text larger, make it bold or italicize it. Use colors more effectively. It’s a simple concept, however, we often forget that the viewer’s understanding of the content is not the same as ours.
  3. It’s all in the Colors
    The colors you choose for your type can both help or hurt your content. For example, If the background color of a slide on your sign is black, don’t use a dark grey. Or if your background is green, using a shade of green that is too close to the background is going to make your content difficult to read. Always choose a contrasting typeface for your copy to reduce eye strain and raise visibility.
  4. Choose your Typeface Carefully
    A san serif typeface (one which doesn’t have the little projections or tails on the letters) is typically the best types of fonts to use on your digital signs. This is because the screen applies a basic blur to text once applied and so the serifs (or projections, or tails, or whatever you want to call them) end up looking distorted.

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