Church Sign Basics
Fewer words are best with signs. Use short words and short phrases, not necessarily full sentences. You may want to put together a sign committee to assist in all aspects of the production process, from what words you'll use to what it will be made from to where the sign will be placed.
If you're not certain where the best place is to put signage, ask for feedback. Don't mount them permanently until you're sure they're in the right place and in compliance with your local zoning regulations. Contact your local town or city hall if you have questions about building codes.
Do you need signs with words in more than one language? If you do, ask one of the members of your church to help translate, or coordinate with a translation service to make sure that the meaning isn't lost in the mix.
The outside of a building needs many standard signs, including the name of the church, its street number, and indications of where to enter and park. If you have a parking lot, indicate which spots are for employees and which are for guests. Be sure to designate an appropriate number of spots for visitors with disabilities and mark them in blue in accordance with regulations.
Outdoor signs may need to be lit at night and on dark days. If so, they will need to be installed near electrical outlets or existing light sources. Generally, have an experienced contractor review and install permanent signs for you. It will save you headaches later if you work with a professional up front, someone familiar with technical issues and with local safety regulations.
When you're considering materials, think about where the sign will be installed. How easy will it be to clean the sign? What kinds of weather will it need to withstand? The materials may restrict your choice of colors.
Permanent or Temporary?
You will need permanent signs for your church's marquis, fire escape, exits, bathrooms, and entrances. In addition you may want to create less expensive signs for seasonal events or one-time observances such as weddings or funerals.
Signs are a way you can communicate basic information with parishioners. For example, what times are services and who leads them? What is the phone number?
How to Get Your Sign Produced
Permanent signs should be produced at a commercial sign shop for a professional quality job.
You can print out temporary signs on regular 8 1/2 by 11 in. paper on your ink jet or laser printer. Or, take them to a store like FedExKinko's or other quick printing services. Even a regular printout can be mounted on foam core to make it sturdier and more attractive.
Beware that ink jet printing may run in the rain or against winter elements. This may be appropriate for signs indoors for a single occasion, but make sturdier signs for outdoor purposes. Laminating can be a good choice for churches on a budget.
Ideas for Temporary Signs
Looking for the perfect sign to help get the word to your congregation? Consider the following suggestions:
- Inspirational quotes -- put up signs with quotations from this week's sermon theme
- Artwork from Sunday school
- Announcements of events, appropriate for a bulletin board
- Members who are being thought of in times of illness or difficulty
- Welcome to guests and new members
- News in your town or in the world
- Holiday events -- make the signs sturdy in order to reuse them in other years
- Parking and directions for guests, especially for events like communions, baptisms, weddings, and funerals that have more people who are not familiar with the layout
Font Choices and Decorations
Using clipart and fonts can make your sign beautiful and eye-catching! Make sure your clipart is appropriate to your message and doesn't overshadow your text. Images are great additions to signs because they can be taken in at a glance, making it easier for your audience to understand your message.
Experiment with fonts, but generally emphasize legibility. A beautiful sign that is hard to read doesn't serve its primary function, which is to communicate. Thicker outlines and darker colors for type will generally look better and be more easily seen. Sometimes brightly colored backgrounds will make the sign standout, especially if you are printing it for your office. If you want to grab someone's attention, a bright yellow or pink piece of paper may do the trick. Finally, even in this age of fancy typography, a handwritten sign or signature stands out as a personal touch.