How to Measure Changeable Letters for Your Marquee Sign

Published: 12th May 2009
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Marquee signs are used for community centers, theaters, church signs, school signs, business signs and sidewalk signs. Marquee signs display messages with changeable letters that typically slide into grooved tracking. Each changeable letter is screen printed onto plastic and is available in different sizes, gauges and styles. Select the right size letters for your marquee or your message could end up going completely wrong!

It is very important for sign letters to fit snug into the sign track or they will fall out or blow away. Panel height and thickness are the most significant characteristics to ensure the letters slide and fit properly onto your marquee sign. I can't stress enough how important it is that you measure the panel height and panel thickness.

Here is what you need to measure:

1. Panel Height

2. Character Height

3. Panel Thickness

4. Width Ratio

Panel Height - The panel height is the outside measurement of the plastic from its top to bottom.

Character Height - The character height is the measurement of the printed character on the plastic panel. Measure from the top of the character to its bottom. Do not include any margins or brand markings in the measurement.

Panel Thickness - There are three main sizes when it comes to the thickness of your changeable letters; 1/32" (30 mil), 1/16" (60 mil), and 1/12" (80 mil). These are more commonly known as flexible, semi-rigid and rigid. 30 mil is about the thickness of a playing card and can be bent over from head to toe without breaking. 80 mil is a thick, rigid letter that has very little flexibility to it. The 60 mil is in between and is semi-rigid.

Width Ratio - The width ratio is helpful to determine the font style. Some letter styles are condensed so you can fit more characters on a line. Other letter styles are wider so they are easier to read. Each font style has its own width ratio. The ratio is the proportion of the character's width (measured from left to right) to its height (measured from top to bottom.) It will make more sense to measure an 'N' or 'R, not a 'W' or "I'. The width ratio is expressed as a proportion such as 3:5 or 1:1.

Changeable letters fit into a track. There are two basic styles; tracking for thin letters and tracking for thick letters. Marquee signs tracked for thin letters can only use 30 mil sign letters. Marquee signs tracked for thick letters can use 80 mil or 60 mil sign letters but not the 30 mil sign letters.

Communicating your letter requirements to a manufacture is just as important as knowing which dimensions to measure so your order is delivered mistake free. Describe your letter requirements with a manufacturer using the measurements because each manufacturer has different naming conventions.

Alphabet Signs provides complete product specifications on many brands of changeable sign letters.

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