I am creating a logo using the acronym HSSC (High School Student Council). Here is the current logo.

enter image description here

My question is:

What is the best/proper arrangement of letters in this type of logo to read "H S S C" most naturally?

We were debating between the current arrangement, on the basis of its clockwise orientation, or by an arrangement where the "H" is in the current "C" position and the rest of the letters following clockwise from there, on the basis of its left to right reading orientation.

  • 9
    I read this as H-C-S-S. I would never think to read it clockwise if the letters are all upright. You have to rotate the letters to indicate that you need to read around. Oct 23, 2014 at 20:02
  • Nice question! Welcome to GD.SE.
    – Yisela
    Oct 23, 2014 at 20:04
  • 1
    @LaurenIpsum You're reading this as if it represented three rows?
    – tylerharms
    Oct 23, 2014 at 20:04
  • 3
    I read it as CHSS... I read left to right so my eye went to the first letter on the left and then went clockwise. I would stack them 2x2 Oct 23, 2014 at 20:23
  • 1
    The question may also be relevant on User Experience
    – Tymric
    Oct 24, 2014 at 16:03

6 Answers 6


It doesn't matter what you do. Some will always read them in a different order. The brand should include use of the company name in some locations so that, eventually, the public gets used to thinking H-- S--- S--- C---. As you can see HERE the order is largely irrelevant and makes no sense until the actual name of the company is included.

I, personally, read it as HCSS - but that means very little. My (English speaking) brain tells me to read from top to bottom, left to right, After all that's how we are taught to read - so H-CS-S. I would never think to read in a clockwise fashion, even if you rotated the characters (which I actually think is a horrible idea).

Even when reading an actual analog clock, the eyes don't track the numbers in a rotational fashion. The natural order is to see the 11-12-1 combination, then the 8-9-10 combination, then the 2-3-4 combination, and lastly the 5-6-7 combination and track while reading in that order for items (hands) in those areas. So, even when things actually are clockwise, the natural order is not to actually read clockwise (in an English speaking country).

No logo starts as just a symbol -- Apple, Nike, AT&T, Ma Bell, etc.. all start with a symbol and name, until the symbol is recognizable enough that the name can be dropped.

  • 1
    I agree with Scott - the acronym means nothing and adds no value in identifying the 'group'. What is the High school called? if you use the name of the school then at least it is part of the institution [school name] + [sub-committee] = YOUR GROUP ... the opportunity and effect for changing everything about this branding is more meaningful than just rearranging a bad acronym.
    – Mark Read
    Oct 23, 2014 at 22:10
  • 1
    I agree that I wouldn't rotate these letters; I was making the point that I wouldn't know to read them in rotation otherwise. I was actually thinking of the monument at Four Corners. utahscanyoncountry.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/p2180278.jpg Oct 23, 2014 at 23:57
  • Thanks, Scott. This logo would be positioned under text reading our school's name. And under this logo would be the text “established 1985". So, the logo, as it's been imagined so far, is the only reference to the high school student council.
    – tylerharms
    Oct 24, 2014 at 5:52

Of course everybody will read in a different way, but when you consider all possible combinations, you can still find out which has the highest probability of being read in the right order.

Since we read from left to right and top to bottom, we can rule the right and bottom quarters out as starting points.

Here are the possible reading orders:


Since two of those are the same they are (at least in theory) the most logical choice.

That being said: You should seriously consider a logo that works in a different way or at least put the letters in in pairs. One pair in the left quarter and one in the right. You can then for example add a date and some icon to the top and bottom quarter.

enter image description here

  • The suggestion is probably the right way go go - put 2 letters in each slot on the vertical axis... Oct 24, 2014 at 12:26
  • Thanks for helping me visualize this. I lead towards 1 or 4 too, but I'm also wondering if there's some visual logic to grouping them by ideas--the first to be represented by reading horizontally and the second by reading vertically.
    – tylerharms
    Oct 24, 2014 at 16:41
  • 1
    "Since two of those are the same they are (at least in theory) the most logical choice." That logic is quite flawed. Your theory assumes here that all the choices would be equal in probability. There is nothing to support this assumption. My hypothesis is that #3 and #4 are very improbable, #2 somewhat probable, #1 quite and #5 very. #5 most, because the brain is already wired to LTR reading order when seeing this. I have no proof of course either, but the theory is sound: the answer would be the most probable reading order, not any two same improbable orders. Dec 9, 2014 at 16:19
  • Still, I agree that it shouldn't be up to probabilities, but to create more unambiguous design in the first place. Dec 9, 2014 at 16:22
  • @ElmoAllén When I first saw the logo I read it like #1. That is why I asumed that it also was the most probable choice, back when I wrote this answer. Now I’m not so sure and I think you are most probably right. And I agree: the fact that we are still talking about this, means that the logo in its current state just doesn’t work well.
    – mnxd
    Dec 9, 2014 at 17:58

I don't know if there is a particular reason to have the letters in 4 sections, but you could consider something like this to make it unambiguous:

The elipse could even be shadded or raised or have some other effects added.

  • 2
    Because it's hip to do so of late. Just google "hipster logo".
    – KMSTR
    Oct 24, 2014 at 9:28
  • 1
    I do not understand why taking on a "redesign" is even appropriate here. That is not the question being posed.
    – Scott
    Oct 24, 2014 at 11:00
  • @Scott - Tyler asked "How should I position the letters in a square logo to read “H S S C”?". My answer is basically the same "Square" Logo, with the letters positioned in a different way. Oct 26, 2014 at 20:30
  • I would disagree @KevinFegan -- but that's merely my opinion.
    – Scott
    Oct 27, 2014 at 14:02

You did say square didn't you?


This way, either way it is read: 1) top, left to right, then bottom, let to right 2) or left, top to bottom then right, top to bottom

Your logo will then read HSSC either way!


H  S1
S2 C

I could read it: H, S1, S2, C


H, S2, S1, C


If you can only rearrange the letters in your current posted logo, the way to arrange them it to put the C center, bottom, e.g.:

 \ H /
S \ / S
  / \
 / C \
  • Thanks for the feedback. In keeping our original layout, it seems the consensus is that people read this the same way they'd read a page of type: top to bottom, left to right. So, as it stands, I've got three rows, one row of one letter, the second of two, the third of one.
    – tylerharms
    Oct 24, 2014 at 18:17

Like Scott said, his brain read it as HCSS, so did I.

I would read it as HSSC if you put H on top, then S S then C

  H          H
S   S      C   S
  C          S

First one Makes S's appear in the center.

Just to be sure I'd ask people around me if they read it as HSSC, I'd be happy!


What about any of the below arrangements?

enter image description here enter image description here

  • 5
    I do not understand why taking on a "redesign" is even appropriate here. That is not the question being posed.
    – Scott
    Oct 24, 2014 at 11:01
  • It also doesn't look very good. Oct 25, 2014 at 12:04

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.