Best fonts for signs: how to pick the best one for your business

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Ever wonder what the best fonts for signs are and why they’re important? A sign that combines a great message with a stylish font will literally make a name for your small business. Effective signs: 

  • distinguish your storefront
  • generate curiosity and brand awareness
  • reel in foot traffic
  • make your booth the talk of the trade show.

Signs communicate practical information, so they must be clear and visually engaging. A well-chosen font is the easiest way to accomplish this, but choosing a font? That’s not so easy. There are thousands of options, each with subtle effects and appropriate contexts. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, your sign may need to balance multiple fonts at once. 

Don’t fret! 

We’ll walk you through the essential considerations for choosing a font for your sign and some sample fonts to start you off.

Best fonts for signs: everything you need to know

What makes the best font for signs?

Good signage fonts should be:

  • legible
  • eye-catching
  • well balanced
  • full of personality
Typographic signage design for a truck

Source: design by EWMDesigns via 99designs by Vista

Before we discuss these in detail, we suggest reviewing the different types of fonts and basic typographic terminology to understand better how fonts craft reader impressions.

Prioritize readability

Readability is the most essential consideration when choosing fonts—so basic that it’s easy to overlook. The average passerby will likely be distracted, so the information should be effortless to scan. Not read. Scan.

Generally, simple letter shapes read most clearly, like many sans-serif fonts. In terms of weight, narrow or thin fonts are harder to read at a distance. Decorative elements, like serifs or elaborate cursive, also affect legibility to a certain degree. All of these may be acceptable trade-offs to achieve stylistic effects as long as the message remains reasonably clear.

Best font for signs: signage using modern font

Source: via VistaPrint

Keep things eye-catching

Signs are created to call attention to themselves, so a good sign font should draw the viewer’s eye. But that doesn’t mean that signage fonts should be full of decorative, overly designed gimmicks—there’s a fine line between eye-catching and absurd or even confusing.

Best fonts for signs: an example of a classic font on a sign

Source: by Ruaran via 99designs by Vista

The simplest fonts command attention by virtue of their placement and scale. For example, a single word on a blank page draws the eye through the design principles of emphasis, contrast and white space. Display fonts specifically designed for large sizes and headline text are a safer bet. These tend to be bolder, chunkier fonts with room for special effects like drop shadows, outlines and textures.


Many fonts include a ‘Display’ variation within their font family. This makes even common fonts impactful for your business signs.

Let personality shine

Every font has a personality, expressed through font psychology

  • Serif fonts are some of the oldest, associated with letters chiseled in stone and with tradition. 
  • Sans-serif fonts are widely used across the internet, coming across as minimalist and sleek. 
  • Script fonts have a formal, fanciful appeal.
  • Decorative fonts are novel and playful. 

Beyond these broad generalizations, each specific typeface style will tug at subtly different emotions.

A 1950s vintage style billboard design for an air-conditioning service

Source: design by Trisixtin by 99designs by Vista

With all this in mind, choose a font for your sign whose associations match your brand personality. Ideally, this means you should give some thought to your official brand fonts if you haven’t already done so. In addition to your overall brand, the font style should match the tone of your sign’s message. If you’re trying to excite the reader about a sale, a bookish serif might not be right!

Strive for harmony and balance

Although a sign might contain a single word, signs often work with multiple phrases (like the main headline, a tagline, and supporting information like location, date or prices). As a result, you may need a few different fonts, though the fewer (around three), the better.

Best fonts for signs: example of window signage

Source: via VistaPrint

Changing the fonts between phrases supports visual hierarchy, making the relative importance and role of each phrase clear at a glance. Common techniques for visual hierarchy include varying the scale, placement, color, movement, direction and overall shape.

Pairing fonts generally comes down to contrast. For example, sign designers often combine an angular sans serif headline with a fluid script subheadline, which creates a sense of interplay between the fonts. Alternatively, consider using the same font in different sizes and weights, creating contrast and harmony at the same time.

The best fonts for signs

Best professional fonts for signs

Signs that convey professionalism tend to be stylistically reserved, achieving formality through straight-to-business, frill-free fonts. At the same time, a good professional font for a sign should include subtle touches of personality to avoid coldness.

Best fonts for signs: professional font example

Source: by goopanic via 99designs by Vista

Glober, for example, is a straightforward sans serif, but the grotesque style of the lowercase “g” is an unexpected touch. Likewise, Verdana may lack flair, but its rounded letters are more approachable than geometric sans serifs. If you decide on a serif font, use a bold yet familiar style like Caslon. Trajan is the more common serif used on professional signs, which is to say, it’s commonly overused.

Best classic fonts for signs

When it comes to classic fonts, you can’t go wrong with a traditional serif, particularly one that varies the width of its strokes between thick and thin. Bodoni and Didot are both great examples. Not only are they classic for their association with the Vogue and Giorgio Armani logos, but they balance delicacy with strength in the shape of their letters.

Best fonts for signs: classic font example

Source: by Jess Left via 99designs by Vista

Essentially, the division between classic and sophisticated fonts is murky. Both have unassuming, tried-and-true looks and convey confidence. For bolder signs, thick sans serifs like Italico make great display fonts. Their tall letters recall the arcing fonts of the Art Deco era.

Best modern fonts for signs

Modern fonts are generally those we associate with our current age, namely geometric sans serifs like Calibri and Dejavu Sans designed for digital screens.

Best fonts for signs: new york city subway sign in helvetica

Source: via Depositphotos

But modern doesn’t always correlate to recent and trendy typefaces. For example, Helvetica has been the face of New York City’s public transit signage since the 50s. Despite its age, we consider it modern because of its association with busy, urban life. Although modern fonts aim for sleek minimalism, weightier variations make great display fonts.

Best elegant fonts for signs

Elegant fonts embrace decoration so long as the effect is tasteful, mature and composed. Typically thin and light, these fonts seem to float on air.

Best fonts for signs: cursive, script font example

Source: by Viktoria Stalybka via 99designs by Vista

Cursive, script fonts like Bambusa Pro reign supreme here. But because their elaborate style can get in the way of legibility, ornate scripts generally don’t make the best headline fonts. At the same time, gentler scripts like Monotype Cursova keep their flourishes at a minimum. For an elegant display font, consider a decorative serif like Nevrada.

Best rustic fonts for signs

Rustic fonts, perfect for signage fitting a rural, down-to-earth aesthetic, typically incorporate rough hand-drawn, weathered textures and blocky letters. Vintage styles reminiscent of the Old West, especially slab or Tuscan serifs, are common—though an exaggerated Western style can easily turn cartoonish). Clarendon is the classic example.

Best fonts for signs: rustic font example

Source: by Yokaona via 99designs by Vista

For a militaristic aesthetic, like a fitness bootcamp sign might use, stencil fonts are common, and a modern variation like Mind the Gap avoids a too-uniform look. Rock Salt offers an unadorned hand-written style. Bant Achillers, by comparison, gives the best of both worlds, combining an angular style with soft cursive.

Best decorative fonts for signs

When a custom hand-lettered sign isn’t an option, decorative fonts are the next best thing. Decorative fonts are designed to be singular and creative—as such, they’re a diverse bunch. Some mimic analog, hand-drawn effects, like Ginchiest and Atomic Marker. Others, like Brinca and Gerova, combine digital font styles with clever twists. Many are even designed for specific contexts, like the Halloween style of Ghost Flames.

Best fonts for signs: fun, bubbly decorative fonts

Source: via VistaPrint

Decorative fonts are essentially display fonts, though not all display fonts are decorative! While novelty is their greatest virtue, their flashy and trendy gimmicks don’t fit every brand. Also, trends come and go—if you depend on your sign for the long haul, go for a more timeless font.

Find a font for your sign today

Given the important messages signs convey, well-chosen fonts are essential. 

Fonts dictate how clearly a sign reads and how it feels, even in the absence of imagery and color. A great deal of intuition goes into choosing fonts, but an understanding of your brand, your sign’s purpose and tone, and the way fonts communicate beyond words will guide you. 

Ready to get started?

Check out all these custom signs and grow your business today.