Sign Questions Answered

Sign Questions Answered

Answers about visibility, placement, value and more

Essential Sign Library

Essential content for anyone regulating or using signs

Academic Research

Research on the use, impact and value of signs

All Sign Topics

Legislative updates, legal analysis and industry news

Is my sign a business asset that I can capitalize or expense?

In the late 1960s, the Internal Revenue Service determined that on-premise signs represent an accessory, real-property interest, and therefore, if you own your sign, you may depreciate it over a period of years. If you lease your sign, the lease payments may be expensed. Any costs associated with maintaining or repairing the sign also may […]

What do I need to know about Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks?

The basic concept behind copyrights and patents is providing legal protection to the inventors, authors, and creators of artistic works that insures their right to economic benefit from the investment of their time, skill, energy and vision of their inventions and creations. This nation’s founders viewed legal protection for economic benefit resulting from one’s creative […]

How do the First and Fourteenth Amendments affect regulation of my business sign?

First Amendment protections guarantee some of our most basic freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of the press, and freedom of religious expression. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution makes the First Amendment’s federal constitutional guarantees enforceable against actions of state and local government. Thus, a local […]

How will my business sign be regulated?

Signage is regulated through the following two categories: Building and electrical codes The construction, installation, and operation of any permanent business sign will need to conform to all applicable building and electrical codes. Because compliance with these codes requires specialized technical expertise, a business owner should specify that conformity to these codes is the responsibility […]

Signs, Legal Rights and Aesthetic Considerations (1972)

There are three general ways in which cultural constraints are enforced: through the use of police powers, eminent domain and taxation. Download Signs. Legal Rights and Aesthetic Considerations

The Sign User’s Guide – A Marketing Guide (1988)

Sections include: Functions of Signs, The Importance of Signs, Sign Design, Selecting the Appropriate Type of Sign, Designing a Sign, How Much Should a Sign Cost?, Choosing the Copy for a Sign, The Importance of Sign Size to Advertising Effectiveness, Why Businesses Need Signage, The Importance of Marketing, Types of Advertising Media, Standard Measures of […]

What has the Federal Highway Administration said about Off-premise Electronic Message Centers?

The 1965 Highway Beautification Act established federal guidelines for off-premise signs (billboards) located within 660 feet of federal highways. When “changeable Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS),” (typically called electronic message centers, or EMCs, in the sign industry), began to become more commonplace, individual states began to establish agreement (Federal/State Agreements — FSAs) with the Federal Highway […]

How is the Size of Signs Measured?

The most common restriction in sign codes concerns the size of signs. This includes such considerations as the “setback,” (distance away from the road), the height and the dimensions of the sign itself. When the sign is a rectangle, and the copy fills it,  it’s easy — height x width. A 4 x 6-foot sign […]

What Types of Signs are Most Commonly Used?

A significant way to divide the sign industry is into “electric” signs (which have internal illumination) and “commercial” signs, which are non-illuminated. For approximately three decades, a trade journal for the sign industry, Signs of the Times, conducted surveys of sign companies as to how their businesses were faring. These were called State of the […]

What Types of Lighting are Used to Internally Illuminate Signs?

The three primary lighting sources for signs have been fluorescent, neon and LEDs for at least two decades, but the ratio of each has drastically changed. An industry trade journal, Signs of the Times, has traditionally tracked these changes through industry surveys. Its most recent such survey was published in its March 2015 edition. It […]