Sign Style Guide
for Meetings, Expositions and Events
©2000 Corbin Ball Associates
guide is designed to help you create better signs for your meetings. Much of the
material was generated through the collaborative effort of the meetings and
editorial staff at SPIE - The
International Society of Optical Engineering.
Remember ... The Reader!
A sign is a mark, token, image; a motion or gesture by which a
thought, or command, or wish is expressed.
purposes: identification, warning, information, or direction.
signs convey information to one master:
- The Reader (whom--we assume--is in a hurry, is a very
important attendee, and therefore, The Reader is a Proper Noun.)
serve two functions:
The meeting ID
The corporate image
writing your sign:
- Be brief
- Be clear
- Be enthusiastic!
- Avoid punctuation
- Less is more: no polite "please" and "thank-yous”; no
- Use the vernacular
- Use active tense--always
- Imagine you are the reader; "What does this sign tell me?"
- Exclude obvious information: "Tuesday", not "Tuesday,
- "Room 102", not "Room 102, Hynes Convention Center"
- Include obvious differences: "Welcome to [MEETING NAME], Hynes
Convention Center" (sign to be placed in Hilton entrance, for
- Identify where emphasis should be. Sometimes it's a speaker, sometimes it a
workshop title, perhaps it is the savings, etc.
asked signage questions--in alphabetical order:
And or Ampersand: "and"
reminded to check in at the
least 45 minutes before your session begins.
Speakers and Chairs
in 45 minutes before Session begins!
do not use all caps, EVER.
Enhancement and Planning
[not date, unless, for example, there are two Mondays]
## [not hotel, unless
sign is in other location]
5 November.......10:00 am to 4:00 pm
6 November....10:00 am to 4:00 pm
7 November......10:00 am to 4:00 pm
through Thursday ....7 to 9 am
main point of sign, then time, then location. Repeat order for all signs.
wonder about overhead projection, or sign options?
also some approximate costs for usual signs at the beginning of the meeting sign
If there are many words, perhaps a sign is not the answer.
Consider a handout with a one-word sign directing the reader to the
not list location if sign is to be placed at that location (it's redundant).
"[logo]" when you want meeting identity
Orient maps so they are in the direction of travel (so the reader
does not have to twist his/her head to read it.
Fill out Exhibit Pass Form
Take form to Station "E" to get your badge
Nouns and nouns:
Reader" is a proper noun, ie, VIP. "Speakers" and
"Chairs" are proper nouns which require an initial cap.
the, them, your. Don't use 'em!
Placement: Locate signs so as not to cause backups or cues to read them.
for emphasis or clarity: "Welcome!"
"Voice, Video, and Data"
Ask yourself, "What is the message about?"
example, is the title of the workshop most important? Or the name of the
presenter, or the location, or the change in location, or the meeting ID?
Place the emphasis on that subject.
"9 am", not "9:00
not "12:00 pm or 12 noon"
Name] thanks the following coffee sponsors
and lower case:
not use all caps, EVER.
not "Participants are
up to $60!" not
"Up to $60 savings for full-week registration"
the main purpose of the sign?
about that first, then write the words.
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