NashvilleAugust 24, 2016


Susan Roethemeyer

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Be Clear

“Be clear when you write,” my friend said. “That way people know what you are talking about.”

“Oh, yes,” I answered, “I always try to be clear when I write my story.”

“No, no, no,” he said. “When you or anybody writes a sign, you have to make it clear enough for people to see what you are talking about.”

I immediately knew what he meant. I have seen signs all over everywhere that are too small to get the job done.

Some signs are big enough, but have too much information printed on them. People driving by look, but have driven past before they get to read the important bit.

Like where the sale is located. Or when it is taking place.

And most folks today are too busy to bother going back for a longer look.

There are also the signs that have letters that are too messy to read.

The letters are all different sizes and spacing between them is various and confusing, leaving the looker to wonder what the words are.

When the letters are too skinny, the words on a sign cannot be read at a distance, and the reader must get up closer.

That is fine if you are walking and don’t mind getting closer to read the words.

But if you are in a car and drive by so quickly you cannot read the sign, then you may as well not put up a sign at all.

What prompted my friend’s words was an encounter at a St. Louis stoplight.

He saw a thin unshaven young man slouched on the sidewalk with a small paper with stick writing on it that was held across his chest.

The paper was smaller than a normal 8×11 sheet and had small, thin writing on it that my friend could not read.

He gestured the young man over so he could ask what the sign said.

It said “Down on my Luck.”

Just then the light turned green and the cars had to move off.

My friend said that if the sign had been bigger, he would have had time to give the young man some change from his car.

The proper sign is large (poster sized) with largish, thick letters that spell out your message in as concise a way as possible.

At least that is my choice.