Vital Signs: For planners and local officials who draft, debate and enforce sign ordinances
Posted on May 31, 2018

Best practices make perfect signs in your community can be complex and controversial, which is why it’s always helpful to use best practices if they’re available.

Fortunately, the Sign Research Foundation has two resources that can help planners and local officials develop processes and regulatory frameworks that will result in effective and beneficial sign codes.

Best Practices in Developing Sign Regulations_COVERBest Practices in Developing Sign Regulations surveyed nearly 20 communities across the country to identify ways to maximize stakeholder involvement and enhance civic participation in the sign code revision process.

According to authors Dawn Jourdan (Texas A&M University) and Eric Strauss (Michigan State University), these are the best ways to ensure a process that is transparent, efficient and results in the development of sign regulations that are legally enforceable and economically viable.

An executive summary of the full report is also available for free download at

Profiles of Multiple Communities_COVERProfiles of Sign Regulations in Multiple Communities and Environments by Craig Berger with the Fashion Institute of Technology reviews the attributes of effective sign regulations and key trends in sign code development.

Highlights of sign codes from multiple communities are profiled within this report, including suburbs, urban areas (downtowns and neighborhoods) and historic districts. In addition, key types of signage are reviewed, including digital, temporary and wayfinding signs. 

Download these free resources on the Sign Research Foundation's website:

Interested in more resources? Here's a list of free resources from the International Sign Association and the Sign Research Foundation specifically to guide planners and local officials when dealing with sign ordinance issues.


Topics: Research

  • Night-time Brightness Level Recommendations for On-Premise Electronic Message Centers
  • Statistical Analysis of the Relationship Between On-Premise Digital Signage and Traffic Safety
  • Executive Summary: Digital Signage and Traffic Safety
  • Finding Common Ground: Answers to Common Questions about Electronic Message Centers (EMCs)
  • Differences between On-Premise and Off-Premise Signs
  • Video Examples of EMC Hold Times
  • Model Sign Code: A Framework for On-Premise Sign Regulations
  • An Evidence Based Model Sign Code
  • Signs and Federal Laws of Protection
  • Building Stronger Communities: Working Together to Create Reasonable Sign Codes
  • Urban Wayfinding Planning and Implementation Manual
  • Best Practices in Regulating Temporary Signs
  • The State of Sign Codes after Reed v. Town of Gilbert
  • The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage (1997, San Diego)
  • The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage (2012, Cincinnati)
  • Signs and the Downtown Experience
  • Executive Summary: The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage
  • Executive Summary: Signs and the Downtown Experience
ISA Planning for Sign Code SuccessTM
David Hickey, VP Advocacy

David Hickey
VP, Advocacy

James Carpentier, AICP

James Carpentier, AICP
Director, State & Local Goverment

Kenny Peskin

Kenny Peskin
Director, Industry Programs | @signcodeguy


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Sign Code Assistance, Education and Training

Is your community considering revising its sign code? Or are you looking for education and training for an upcoming APA meeting?

Contact to receive expert and complimentary sign code assistance:

  • Research on sign-related issues
  • Sign code education and training 
  • Planning, legal and technical sign code resources and advice

The International Sign Association (ISA) has helped hundreds of cities across the country develop modern, effective and enforceable sign codes.

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