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Tips for making eye-catching protest (and counter-protest) signs

Since the 1960s, protests and counter-protests in the nation's capital include signs -- a design pro offers tips for making an eye-catching one. (File, AP Photo)

WASHINGTON — With Inauguration Day and the Women’s March nearing, the nation’s capital will be hosting numerous protests and counter-protests. If social media presence is any indication, a lot of people will be taking part.

Regardless of whom you will be supporting or opposing, a design professional says there are several tips for making an eye-catching and effective sign.

“Simple is usually the best way to go, and less is generally more,” said Pam Webber, chief marketing officer with 99designs, a California-based graphic design company.

With the all the noise, commotion and sights in a demonstration or rally, Webber said, the goal is to create a sign that can be viewed and digested quickly.

“You do need to think hard about the message you’re trying to convey,” said Webber.

The tone of the sign should be authentic.

“So if that tone means anger, so be it,” said Webber. “If it means something a little more subtle, so be it.”

Signs with too many words on them are ineffective.

“Very rarely do you see a billboard with a lot of text on it, or using a fancy font, because it’s difficult to look at that and read it,” Webber said.

Color in a sign can be effective in grabbing attention, but Webber said a pro designer would want to make sure the colors work well together — “how the color contrasts with the background of the sign” — and don’t obscure the message.

While a production house can help make a sign look professional, Webber said a clever, well-tailored message, legibly presented, is likely more effective.


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