When you’re putting together specifications for signage in your office, school, university or hospital, you may be preparing a long list of requirements. It’s easy to overlook sign mistakes, but making silly errors can make signage look unprofessional and can even make the meaning unclear or incorrect.
At Select Sign Systems we make sure to thoroughly check the signs we produce, but we’d recommend familiarising yourself with some common and easy sign mistakes so that you can avoid them first time – this will make the overall process more efficient.
Common spelling errors
Not all sign mistakes are immediately obvious. Sometimes words don’t sound quite as they are spelt. For example, we’ve seen safety signs instructing people to wear ‘high visability clothing’ – this should of course be ‘visibility’. Similarly, signs instructing users to ‘seperate’ rather than ‘separate’. Indicating a need to hold onto a ‘handel’ or to ‘handel’ with care conjures up images of Gretel’s brother Hansel, rather than the instruction indicated by the correct spelling, ‘handle’.
Watch your apostrophes
Apostrophes are used to show possession or where two words have been contracted. For example, saying “my mother’s pen doesn’t work” requires an apostrophe in both contexts. A common signage error, particularly on corporate signage, is using apostrophes for days of the week. A sign which says a venue or room is open on the first three days of the week, for example, should say Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and not Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. The correct way to say it uses ‘s’ at the end of each day to show it is plural. The incorrect way suggests possession. A common apostrophe error is the misuse of ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. ‘Its’ indicates possession in the same way as ‘his’ or ‘hers’ does, whilst ‘it’s’ means ‘it is’. For example, “the car has its window wipers on because it’s raining”.
Keep punctuation neat
As well as correct use of apostrophes there are other common punctuation errors to avoid. Using exclamation marks where they aren’t really needed can make signs look immature or even silly. Similarly, using speech marks around blocks of text is only really appropriate when indicating speech. A sign that says ‘This way to the “toilets”‘ is incorrect, for example. Equally, full stops are only needed at the end of sentences. There’s no need for a sign to say ‘Toilets.’, for example.
At the end of the day, some people may say this sort of information is not ground-breaking. However, think to about how many times you possibly have criticised an establishment for not taking care of some of the most basic details. People do care about th small things and it really does reflect on your establishment.
If you’re going to invest in sign systems, it is best to do it correctly first go.
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