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Wayfinding & Signage: Home

A companion guide to the Spring 2024 workshop: Wayfinding & Signage: principles and planning

Guide Contents

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Some foundational information about wayfinding and signage.


What you need to know about wayfinding.


What you need to know about signage.

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Wayfinding or Signage?

What's the difference between Wayfinding & Signage? 

In libraries, wayfinding and signage are both informed by the same design standards including placement, readability, clarity, and consistency, to create an intuitive and user-friendly library experience.

Wayfinding is the intentional selection and placement of visual cues (including signs), maps, and landmarks, to help patrons orient themselves and find their way around the building.

Signage refers to visual graphics or displays intended to influence a patron's decisions, including decisions concerning which items to borrow, what programs to attend, the proper use of equipment, or how to behave.


Call to Action (CTA) - a prompt meant to elicit immediate action.

Collateral - marketing materials including brochures, flyers, posters, newsletters, social media content, and blog posts.

Contrast - an accessibility concern in design, referring to the color difference between two items (e.g. font and background). High contrast items stand out clearly, while low contrast items are difficult to distinguish.

Fonts - the specific style and design of letters, numbers, and symbols used in written text. This is inclusive of the typeface, which is the overall appearance, and shape (i.e. Times New Roman or Aptos), as well as the more specific details of weight, size, and style (i.e. italic or underline).

Reverse - a visual design technique for emphasis which switches the expected contrast.  Just like this. 

Sans serif - indicating a typeface that does not feature serifs

Serif - a typeface feature including small projections on the ends of a character.

Shelf talker - aka "wobbler" "dangler" - a small sign placed on product shelves to draw customers' attention to specific features, benefits, or promotions.

White space - aka "negative space" - referring to empty space in a design used to balance the composition and increase readability.

What's In It For Me? (WIIFM) - a decision making question customers ask themselves (figuratively) when considering options and actions. This question is answered by considering the centered audience's self-interest and values.

ADA Accessibility

About fonts

The “t” character rendered in four different weights, with a faint background shape drawing attention to the width of the main stroke.The “t” character rendered in four different weights, with a faint background shape drawing attention to the width of the main stroke.Illustrating the meaning of font weight - notice that the width of the stroke varies. Fonts using thinner fonts are often referred to as "light" whereas darker, heavier fonts are often referred to as "bold."

Fonts are classified as a serif font, or a sans serif. Serif fonts often have variation in the thickness of strokes. A serif is a little projection included at the end of a stroke. Sans serif fonts do not have the flourish and generally maintain a stable weight. 

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