Got a Good Story? I’ll Give You 45 Seconds
by Hale Sargent, Interpretive Specialist, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
You know that wayside exhibit panel you’ve been toiling over the past year?
The one that captures your passion and love for history? The one that recounts every day of the epic 1775-76 Anza Expedition, its impact on California, and the family tree of every descendant?
It’s too much.
In fact, your sign will be lucky to have 45 seconds to spend with its average visitor.
But your panel is important. Our wayside exhibits are the most enduring tools for sharing the story of the Anza Trail. So how do we make them effective?
The National Park Service has just produced the Anza Trail Wayside Exhibit Style Guide, a resource for the public agencies, volunteer organizations, parks, and other partners who wish to share their unique place along the Anza Trail.
The Style Guide includes suggestions for themes and relevance of your wayside’s content, as well as standardizing design elements and best practices for its layout.
NPS does not dictate design guidelines for partner sites and communities. Rather, the Anza Trail Wayside Exhibit Style Guide shares ideas that reflect the National Park Service’s experience in creating effective interpretive signs.
Patrick Johnston of the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program developed the style guide with input from the trail’s interpretive specialist, Hale Sargent, and Lynne Mager, interpretive specialist at the National Trails Intermountain Region office.
A new wayside developed by the Anza Trail Foundation and Mission San Gabriel became the model for the style guide.
Download a copy of the Style Guide here. A wayside template in Adobe InDesign is available upon request.
Wayside Hits and Misses: Tips from the Style Guide
Say it all in 100 words or less
Grab your audience with your first sentence
Use text to support an image, not an image to support text
Honor the Tribal community that encountered the Anza Expedition at your wayside’s location
Translate your sign into Spanish. This is the story of Spanish-speaking Arizona and California.
Try to tell the whole story
Overwhelm with logos
Be afraid of different perspectives on history.
A Detail from the new Anza Trail Wayside Exhibit Style Guide