How to Make a Template for Signs

By Grahame Turner

Making a series of signs can be challenging enough on its own, but if you're trying to save some time and make a set of nearly identical banners and signs, you'll need some kind of a template. The simplest way to accomplish this is with a stencil or a set of stencils for your sign.

Design Your Sign

Draw a rough version of your sign on a sheet of card stock in pencil. You should make the lettering large and boxy, so it's visible from far away. Bear in mind that passers-by will only see the sign quickly, so you need to get the message across in only a few seconds' reading time. You can also use images from the web or magazines (See Resources).

Add bridges. On some letters, such as A, R and B, there are "islands" of white-space inside the actual letter. Without bridges, the letter O would just look like a circle, so on letters or images with floating pieces, draw at least two 1/2- to 3/4-inch "bridges" connecting the outside of the letter to the inside. Repeat this for every letter or image with islands.

Trace the final sign image with your marker. Trace all of the letters and bridges, and any images you're using. Draw Xs on the spaces you will cut out.

Look over the drawing and make any final changes you feel you need to.

Cut the X-marked pieces out of the stencil with your utility knife. The neater the cuts, the neater your final signs will be. Make sure none of the bridged pieces fall out. The stencil is now complete.

Using the Stencil

Align your stencil over a fresh piece of card stock. Make sure all of the corners line up evenly.

Tape the stencil to the card stock. Use at least two pieces of tape per side, in the corners.

Draw or paint your image through the stencil onto the card stock. If you want to add black outlines to the images, use a black permanent marker after the paint or ink has dried.

Repeat Steps 1 through 3 for any other signs you need to make.

Tip

If you want to remove the bridges from your final product, you can put masking tape around the bridge and fill it in. If you have a lot of bridges and signs to make, it may be worth copying the original stencil and making a second one with the bridges in different locations. When finished, depending on how clean your stencil(s) are, you can tape colored construction paper to the back-side over the spaces and use it as another sign.

Warning

Letters you need Bridges on: A, a, B, b, D, d, e, O, o, P, p, Q, q and R.

About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.