How to Make a Protest Sign

If you’re marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the fight for Black liberation, I wanted to give you some quick sign marking tips to help you spread your message!


Appear Works is doing an online training to make signs together this Saturday.

Attending a protest or march takes courage, but it’s easier if you have a sign to hold up.

What to say on your sign

Remember: This is not an artistic masterpiece. A successful sign shows a short, to the point message large enough for people to see across the street, park or town square. For this reason, keep the message short so you can draw it in large letters. A good rule of thumb is to keep your message between 3 and 5 words.

If inspiration for something catchy and original strikes, that’s great! But it’s completely ok to copy something from the internet. In fact, it is often better to copy a slogan so that your sign is aligned with the message of the march.

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Although any type of paper or cardboard can be used for a sign, there are a few materials that make it easier to hold up your sign and for others to see your sign.

Sign material

  • Foam core board is stiff, strong, doesn’t bend, and is my favorite type of poster-board for marching. It costs a bit more than a regular poster board, but it won’t bend in the wind, and I’ve even found it to be pretty water resistant when marching in the rain.
  • Cardboard from a box is a great, sustainable way to repurpose boxes whether they are from a local store or from an online purchase. They are usually stiff enough to keep their shape if there is a breeze. 
  • Legal sized paper is effective if you’ll be in a space that is very crowded and small such as a sidewalk. This is also a good choice if you want to reproduce your sign or if you want to create the sign on your iPad but print it out on paper.

Markers and paint

You’ll be making a sign with large letters people look at from a distance, so whatever you use to make the letters needs to make a thick line. Although pens and pencils are good for outlining letters and making a prototype of your sign, you’ll need markers, paint sticks or brushes and paint to make letters that are large enough for people to see. I’ve found paint sticks that dry quickly to be the easiest to use. If you use markers, try to find ones that are low odor. 

Making the sign

You have something to say and materials to say it with. You are ready to make a sign!

  • Trace out what you want to say. This allows you to figure out how to place your message on the sign.
  • Give yourself enough time for the paint to dry, if you can. It might take a few hours or overnight. That said, it’s ok to show up with a sign that isn’t totally dry, because showing up is what’s important.
  • Get some helpers to help you fill in the letters on your sign or add some special touches. Fingerpaints make awesome sign filler-inners and there’s always room for some glitter! Making signs is a good activity for making friends, talking about what’s going on and collaborating on the message you want to share.

Congratulations! You made a sign! Making a sign is a great way to participate and raise your voice!

Would you like to practice making a sign? Appear Works is doing an online training to make signs together this Saturday.


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