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What Font Should I Use for My Channel Letter Sign

You’ve chosen channel letters for your sign because you want it to stand out. Your sign’s whole purpose is to attract attention to your store and bring customers to your business. Many elements can impact how attractive your sign is, including the size, materials, and colors. Have you given any thought to your font, though? If you haven’t, you need to.

4 Basic Principles of Design

When choosing a font, there are four basic principles of design you need to pay attention to: contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity (or C.A.R.P., if you like easy acronyms).


If you want to create contrast with your font choices, you can choose a serif font and pair it with a sans serif font. It’s usually not a good idea to pair two different serif fonts or two different sans serif fonts together. Instead, pick one font and keep it consistent throughout the sign, or pick a serif font and pair it with a sans serif font. If you decide to use one font but still want some contrast, try bolding the font, italicizing the font, or changing the color, size, or spacing between letters or words.


The alignment of your sign can give it a particular character. For example, if you want your brand to seem carefree or silly, you might offset each letter from one another vertically, so it alternates up and down. To have a sign that appears neat and professional, you could try aligning the sign horizontally. Alternatively, aligning your sign at an angle so that it slants can give it an artsy and creative look. Alignment does have the potential to impact readability, so be careful with your choice.


Repetition creates unity within your sign. For example, if you owned a clothing store with the name “Closet of Clothes,” you might repeat a serif font for the words “closet” and “clothes,” but use a sans serif font for “of.” This repetition of the serif font will create an emphasis on “closet” and “clothes” while still promoting cohesion through your sign.


The proximity of the elements within your sign indicates how those elements are related to one another. While other languages may differ, English uses spaces between words to separate them from one another, grouping the letters in closer proximity. The spacing between the letters, words, images, and icons will play an important part in making your sign readable. If elements are clustered too tightly, the sign can be hard to read from a distance; if they are spaced too far apart, they can feel disconnected and will also be difficult to read. By adjusting the proximity, you can direct a customer’s focus to a specific aspect of your sign or business.

Make it Legible

Legibility is a big deal when it comes to creating a custom channel letter sign. The sign’s whole purpose is to identify your business, which can’t happen if people can’t read your sign. Generally speaking, if you want your sign to be large, sans serif fonts are better options than serif fonts. Serif fonts tend to be better for the smaller type used in printed material, such as books or newspapers. You can still choose a serif font for your sign if you want, but take extra care to make sure it’s easy to read quickly. People driving by in cars may only have a second or two to look at your sign before they need to direct their attention elsewhere.

Make It Stand Out

Given the short amount of time you have to get attention with your channel letter business sign, you need to make it stand out. A sign that stands out in the best way will be easy to read and quickly grab attention. As long as you’ve chosen a font that’s easy to read quickly, you can turn to colors and lighting to help it stand out more. Choose a colorful acrylic face that matches your brand colors to make your store easier to identify. One of the advantages of channel letter signs is that the channel structure is perfect for lighting up your sign. You can choose to make your sign front-lit, backlit, or combination lit. You can even select the color of your lighting to create more excellent contrast and keep your branding more consistent.

Make it Legal

One of the tricky things about fonts is that you can’t necessarily choose any font you want. Fonts, specifically the software or program that tells a computer how to display and print letters and characters, can be copyrighted. Using a copyrighted font without a license could land your business in trouble. You can find free fonts through Google Fonts or Font Squirrel that you can use for commercial purposes. If you have found a particular copyrighted font that you like, check the EULA (End User License Agreement), which will likely detail the terms of use for the font. Unlike fonts, typefaces (the stylizing of letters, numbers, and symbols in a consistent manner) aren’t subject to copyright laws, so they don’t require a license.

Choosing a font for a business sign can be more complex than you would expect. As it turns out, there’s more to it than just making it match your branding. By designing your sign with the C.A.R.P. principles in mind, ensuring the sign is legible, and using fonts in a lawful way, you can create the perfect custom channel letter sign for your store.