What is the best color for night sign visibility?

Last updated March 13, 2018 at 12:10 pm -


I’ll bet the first color that comes to mind is red. Red has the best night visibility, right? The answer to that is “not necessarily”. In this article, Jim Fleming states that white letters have excellent night visibility. He also points out that the Dept. of Transportation uses white letters on a green background – which was likely a decision based on a substantial amount of visibility research.

Signs are a short and “to the point” advertising medium. They must communicate quickly to be effective – people scan signs the same way they scan title headings. White on a contrasting background (like blue or green) can be an ideal day/night color combination – offering both the advantages of white letter night visibility and strong day imaging as well. In a certain sense, signs are like a heading or caption. Headings are meant to be read quickly, and then the reader moves on. Like this:

As this article states, another reason white is a excellent night color is it reflects all the colors of the light spectrum, which makes it ideal for brief messages (such as the one on a sign.) Here is a front/back lit channel letter set using white letters/halo – this has an excellent dark viewing pop:  

One more potential “night sign” strategy is to incorporate two colors, assuming the sign has a primary/secondary message element combination. For example, you could use white for the primary sign message (like the business name), and a different color for the secondary message (like the business type.) Then if your client insists on using a second color it can be placed in the design without diluting the sign’s overall impact.

So for overall night signage effectiveness, white is a strong contender. It may not be appropriate for all business types but for many it is the best option.

If you are looking to add signs to your building and need help contact us for a free estimate.

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