Whats is the best practice for cap height and x-height for sign-making inside and outside of a hospital?

I have to design some bilingual signs for a hospital. I have some problems because I don't know if there are some industry standards for the size of the text. Everything needs to be very easy to read and accessible. Both for inside and outside signs.

At the moment, for a sign that is inside of the hospital my cap height is 20mm for the main language(Romanian) and 15mm for the secondary language(English).

Screenshot: enter image description here

Are there standards of best practice models for this kind of work? Where can I read more about it? Where can I find more examples?

  • 1
    the most research done in this area surrounds traffic and road signs. There's an enormity of research because this is important and (done right) prevents much of the need for hospitals.
    – Confused
    Oct 7, 2019 at 3:32

1 Answer 1


The subject is dealt with as "way finding" and of interest to architects and signage professionals. Secondarily, "readability" and "legibility" will be good subjects to review.

As a point of interest, red lettering on a blue background as you have in your example is another aspect of (poor) readability due to colour perception and contrast (which see) in addition to size, style, and weight.

Pay attention to reading direction. Simple number sequences (of examining rooms) can send people (in pain?) in the wrong direction down hallways.

Visit different hospitals and watch how counterintuitive signage require volunteers to direct traffic, etc.

For an example of everything that can be wrong, visit the "Glen Yards" super hospital in Montreal Canada run by the McGill University - The Royal Victoria section specifically. The signs there start with Examining rooms 24 - 32, then moving to the right you see Examining rooms 16 - 24, then to the right you see them continue in reverse sequence. After you get into the large waiting room and sit down, you see the "Take a number" machine hidden from sight behind the door as you enter.

Good luck.

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