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Digital Menus - Best Practices for Design & Compliance
Apr. 26, 2022
Digital Menus - Best Practices for Design & Compliance

Digital Menus - Best Practices for Design & Compliance

Digital menu boards are a game changer for restaurants. They’re dynamic, eye-catching, automated, and can be edited or changed easily from a remote CMS (content management system).

But digital or not, your signage and menu boards still ought to comply with certain requirements and best practices.

We’ll tell you all you need to know when it comes to staying compliant with your digital signage design.

Clearly Displayed Nutrition Information

According to the FDA:

“Covered establishments must disclose the number of calories contained in standard items on menus and menu boards. For self-service foods and foods on display, calories must be listed in close proximity and clearly associated with the standard menu item.”

“Businesses must also provide, upon request, the following written nutrition information for standard menu items: total calories; total fat; saturated fat; trans-fat; cholesterol; sodium; total carbohydrates; sugars; fiber; and protein. In addition, two statements must be displayed—one indicating this written information is available upon request, and the other about daily calorie intake, indicating that 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

If you have more than 20 locations, which is considered a chain, you have to include this information for all of your menu items. Likewise, if you’re located in New York City, you must post the total number of calories in each menu item.

Digital signage makes adding and updating these super easy. You can access your cloud-based CMS from any device with a browser and do things like add or update calorie totals, change fonts, add themes, and customize your digital menus in just about any way you see fit.

Satisfy ADA Color Contrast Requirements

ADA color and contrast requirements include 70% contrast between lettering and its background color or higher for any information you display that is considered essential to a function or context. In this case, that’s all of the menu item names and calorie information.

Your signs can essentially be any color scheme you choose as long as it adheres to this rule. The ADA even offers a compliance tester on its website for you to check if your color scheme is compliant.

Choose Your Colors Wisely

And as a rule of thumb, it’s best to use the colors of your brand in your signage, in addition to logos or slogans and any other brand attributes that you would like included. Making sure all of your signage is on-brand will result in more cohesive messaging and will help strengthen your brand overall.

Next, consider the 60-30-10 rule when it comes to selecting your color scheme. This age-old design rule provides the perfect color variance. If you have just two brand colors, you can use a neutral color as the third such as black or white.

Font Size and Spacing Matter

Also regulated by the ADA, font size is important in how you craft your menus. It’s important to note that font sizes should be measured according to viewing distance.

The most typical and most widely used text height is 5/8”, but text can be as large as 2”. Width can be 55-110% of character height and character stroke and character spacing can be 10-30% and 10-35% of the character height respectively.

Also important is the type of font. Sans Serif is recommended but not always required depending on the content you’re displaying. However, it’s a good idea to choose font that is very easily legible for all content, even content that is nonessential to functions according to the ADA.

For example, Old English and cursive fonts might look classy and attractive, but if they take away from the legibility of your content, they could be more of a hindrance than they’re worth.


Satisfying all requirements is a must, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it tastefully on your digital menu boards—pun intended. Choose on-brand colors and content, and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it as long as you’re complying with all of the necessary regulations.