All public sector buildings will typically have signage inside and outside of
their establishments. This may range from signs for the toilets to health
and safety signs. The following signage design guidance is based on the ‘Building for Everyone: A Universal Design approach’ publication
from the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD).
Under the Official Languages Act 2003, a public body has a duty to ensure that signs placed by it or on its behalf within or outside the state
are in Irish or bilingual. If bilingual text is chosen, instead of text in Irish
only, there are specific regulations that must be adhered to.
The guidance below is provided for sign design in indoor and outdoor
Text on signs
Make sure the text on your sign is easy to read. Avoid fonts that are
highly decorative, very bold, condensed or in italics, as these can
be difficult to understand and may make the sign more difficult to
read. Examples of easy to read sans serif fonts for signage include,
Helvetica, Tahoma and Futura.
Wording on signs should be as simple as possible.
Avoid the use of unfamiliar abbreviations.
Information on signs should be listed alphabetically or grouped
logically. For example, by floor level.
Use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3), not Roman numerals (i, ii, iii).
A mixture of upper and lower case letters should be used. Avoid
using BLOCK CAPITALS.
Align wording to the left.
Wording, font and images should be consistent throughout the
The size of letters on signs should be related to the type of sign and
The table below provides recommended letter height for a range of
Symbols and arrows on signage
Use symbols in place of text where the symbol is universally
recognised. For example, public information symbols.
Use symbols to accompany text where possible. This is particularly
relevant for dual-language signs, as they help people to recognise
quickly the information being provided.
Use arrows to indicate directions.
There should be good contrast between the signboard and any
mounting or background surface. This helps draw attention to the
There should be good contrast between the text/symbols and
background sign colour. This helps draw attention to the content of
Where colour coding is used, use colours that are easy to
Signs should have a matt or satin finish. Avoid shiny and reflective
surfaces to prevent glare.
Signs should be evenly illuminated, with a lighting level of 200 lux.
Embossed signs enable people with visual impairments to read by touch.
When designing tactile signs consider that:
Embossed letters should be raised above the surface of the sign by
1 - 1.5mm, and have a stroke width of 1.5 – 2mm.
Embossed letters should be between 16mm and 50mm in height.
Where Braille is provided, it should be positioned below the related
Engraved and indented letters and symbols should be avoided, as
they are difficult to read by touch.
Positioning of signage
Signs should be positioned at important points along a route,
wherever routes intersect or diverge.
Tactile and Braille signage should be positioned within easy reach.
Position signs where people reading them will not cause an
Make sure that directional signs help people to retrace their steps
and identify alternative locations within a building, without having to
return to the main entrance.