“Making a sign and showing up to a protest is an act of saying that you matter and your voice should be heard. I don’t think it matters if it’s funny or original or not, it just matters that you’re there saying it.”
When doing demonstrations, protests, and counter-protests, one of the greatest tools at your disposal is the protest sign. A protest sign allows for immense creativity, can be used in just about any scenario, are often very cost-efficient to produce, and, as an added bonus, are capable of bringing a lot of added attention to any given activity.
The most important thing that a protest sign needs to be is eye-catching. In order for your sign to stand out, there are a number of important factors to consider when constructing the sign to make it more visible and attractive to the eye. These include deliberately selecting your colors, materials, and content, as well as making sure that the sign can be read easily from a distance.
The content of a protest sign is absolutely crucial. Not only should it have a concise message, but it also needs to deliver the tone to passers-by. The content of just one protest sign can make the difference between someone walking away in disgust, taking a picture to share on social media, or even joining in on the protest. To this end, humor can sometimes be one of the most effective things to include on a protest sign, but if done poorly, can actively turn people away. Likewise, a warm message of inclusion will set a different tone for your activity than a fired up call to action. It is crucial that thought is put into their content, and that they aren’t thrown together haphazardly. Be creative!
Sketch out what your message is going to look like on your sign. The number of words should be kept to a minimum in order to keep your statement concise and allow for plenty of room for large letters. The font of the text (whether printed or done by hand) needs to be both bold and large, and presented in such a way that your sign can be read from a distance.
Text-based posters have the most impact with a limited color palette. Your main text should always be well-contrasted against its background, even if that background is full of color.
Kerning plays a role in effectively communicating a message from across a crowd. If someone can’t read your sign because you ran out of space and smushed a bunch of letters together, you might as well not be holding a sign at all. Do a readability check by walking a fair distance away from your poster. Can you still read it, or did you have to squint?
Certain colors specifically pair well together when trying to get someone’s attention. For instance, many movie posters will combine orange and blue: this is because they are considered “complementary” or “opposite” colors, and make each other stand out.
Another way to effectively pick colors is to mimic the schemes of road signs and other learned attention-grabbing indicators: emphasizing white-on-red, black-on-yellow, and black-on-orange are all likely to catch the eyes of passers-by
If you decide to use colors other than black, make sure the colors are not too light. Colors such as pink or yellow will be very difficult to read.
- Foam Core Sheets – The recommended method of construction and most minimal. It’s a little more rigid, but still light enough to carry for an extended period, and you don’t really even need a post. If you would like a post, you can attach it to a cardboard tube with zip ties.
• Cardboard from old boxes, which is free and easy to carry
- Poster board in any color you want (fluorescent is great); a piece of cardboard sandwiched by two pieces of posterboard, on which you will write your message. The cardboard center increases the sturdiness. Sandwich the cardboard with the two pieces of posterboard and staple the top and sides. Do not connect the bottom initially. Insert your cardboard tube inside of the sandwich of cardboard and posterboard. Staple and glue.
If you are expecting your protest to receive any form of media attention, having a double sided sign is much more effective in conveying your message. The media will likely cover the protest from an array of aesthetic angles, and at certain points it is likely that the protesters will not all have signs facing the same direction. Making a double sided sign capitalizes on as many angles as possible and can greatly increase message visibility.
- Poster paint
- Cheap brushes
- Permanent markers (in case the weather is bad, we don’t want ink to run)
- Clear packing tape and/or duct tape
- Cardboard tubes for sign-carriers. Please do not use wooden sticks
- Scanner and printer (or a copy machine)
- Print enlarged words on standard copy paper and glue onto foam core, pasteboard or plain cardboard assembling a message. If you want color, try printing letters in outline form and then coloring them in later.
- Use colored vinyl tape to create letters and words.
- Use sheets for large signs. Cut slits in them to let the wind through.
- Have poster commercially printed as photos with text or on vinyl to be weatherproof.
- Stronger Together
- Love Trumps Hate
- Care more, Consume less
- We Shall Overcome
- You have the right to remain silent but I don’t recommend it
- Democracy is not a spectator sport
- The only minority destroying American is the rich
- Standing for what is right is worth it
- Keep the press free
- If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention
- So bad even the introverts are here
- Make America kind again
- Tolerance does not mean tolerating intolerance
- Build kindness not walls
- Protest is Patriotic
- Respect existence or expect resistance.
- We won’t give up, We won’t give in
- We will not be silent
- I don’t want you to think like me, I just want you to think
- Science Matters
- Stand Up For Science
- Make America Smart Again
- Science is a Way of Thinking
- Science is made of facts
- Science is not fiction
- The good thing about science is that its true whether or not you believe in it
- Science is not a liberal conspiracy
- Science doesn’t go away just because you vote against it
- Make American think again
- For effective policy, Try Science
- Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored
- Science not Silence
- The most violent element in society is ignorance
- No Science, No Beer
- We want scientific data not alternative facts
- Peer reviewed science matters
- Facts matter
- Yes to Science, No to Alt facts
- Science Trumps Silence
- Deny Trump, Not Climate
- Denial is not a policy
- Climate Solutions = Jobs
- The earth needs thinks not deniers
- The earth doesn’t have 4 years
- Change the Politics not the Climate
- There is no Planet B
- Keep it in the ground
- Put a price on carbon
- Climate legislation now
- System Change, Not Climate Change
- Stop Climate Change (Stop Sign)
- The Climate is changing, why aren’t we?
- Our planet is worth more than oil company profits
- We raced to the moon, lets race to clean energy
- Which green do you see? (money or trees)
- The ocean is rising and so are we.
- There’s no wealth on a dead planet
- Don’t be Fossil Fuel-ish!
- Global Warming burns me up
- Climate Justice
- Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy
- Every Day is Earth Day
- No to Fossil Fuels, Yes to Clean Energy
- Climate Change is a health crisis
- Climate Action Now
- If you think education is expensive try ignorance
- I’m paying for Trump’s trips to his own club
- Release your tax returns.
- Repeal without replace is premeditated murder
- Medicare for all
- Don’t take my health care
- Health Care is a Human Right