I’m a little late getting this column filed, with the primary election already upon us. But maybe it will be useful to candidates in the general election.

As a longtime observer of yard signs in Sedalia, I’m struck by how many of them are wasted money and effort, and for a variety of reasons.

In my opinion, the four most important considerations governing political yard signs are size, typography, contrast and placement.

Most yard signs strike me as too small. Your sign has only a second or two to (1) grab the attention of passing motorists and (2) enable them to read it. Small signs have a hard time accomplishing both those goals. So go for something bigger. I think a 24X18 sign, or thereabouts, is best.

But size is only one factor in designing a successful yard sign. Equal in importance is typography, where type size and color are crucial.

Just as signs can be too small, so can the type. Remember that passing motorist (a potential voter), so make sure the type on your sign is large enough to be read.

So go for big type — and keep it simple. The two most important bits of information on your yard sign are your name and the office you’re seeking: JONES for MAYOR. Skip the “vote for” and all other clutter, for the more words you print on your sign the harder it is to read.

When we come to color contrast, we hit on one of the main reasons so many yard signs fail to do the job. Consider the newspaper you’re reading. What if, instead of black type on a white background, the words were printed in pink type on a pale yellow background? I’ve seen yard signs like that in Sedalia, and in many other strange colors.

While black and white give you the sharpest contrast, other colors work almost as well: red and white and dark blue and white being a couple. Think bold colors, and stay away from the subtle shades.

When placing signs in yards, remember the city’s setback rule: Yard signs must be at least 15 feet back from the curb. That’s another reason why you want big signs with large, high-contrast type.

Lastly, how soon should political yard signs be put up? I think most yard signs go up too early, often many weeks before the election, where two weeks — three at the outside — probably are sufficient.

One of the smartest political heads I know in Sedalia advised candidates to wait until two weeks before the election to put up signs. If you have the help to do it and lots of yards and other sites lined up, he also advised putting up signs at night. That way, when people head to work the next morning, Sedalia will erupt in your signs.

I saw it done once, and the effect was startling.


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