Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Signs, Posters and Stuff: Do Some Housecleaning

Look around your office area or building and you will likely see many old signs, posters and cartoons. If you are in charge, work with someone or on your own to clear those up and clean off the surfaces where the items were hanging. If you aren’t in charge, ask for permssion to do some before-the-holidays clean-up.

1. After signs and posters have been in place for more than a few days they become invisible to those who have seen them repeatedly. Refreshing them now and then keeps the information fresh appearing.

2. Old information is worse than no information. If something is outdated, take it down to avoid confusion.

3.  A sloppy group of signs encourages the same lack of organization elsewhere. Have the placement, organization and condition of signs be the example for how everything in the work area should appear.

4. If something is important enough to have a sign about it, it’s important enough to produce a quality appearing sign. Often signs that are handwritten were meant to be temporary or are not significant. Replace necessary signs with simply produced ones from a word processor.

5. Cartoons left taped on walls will encourage even more cartoons–some of which may not be appropriate. Professional offices do not have cartoons and so-called “funny” signs and posters in common areas.

6. Often a sign is designed to deal with a one time problem, or an ongoing problem that should be fixed, not solved merely by warning people about it. I once saw a sign in a municipal building that said, “Please do not bring dogs into the council chambers.” I asked about it and found it was put in place when a special animal code meeting was held over a year before!

7. Resist the temptation to create even more wall clutter with quotes, photos or other things that will need to be refreshed in a few weeks–unless you really want to tie up your time with that activity, and can keep the area neat.

Take it a bit at a time and don’t try to do it all in one day to avoid the appearance of being on a sign and poster vendetta. Gradually and without making a big deal of it, take things down and either toss them or refresh them. If something was clearly posted by an individual, give that person his or her sign or poster, rather than throwing it away. Explain what you are doing, to avoid bad feelings over the situation. Of such things are life-long feuds made!

Get the walls washed if that is needed–and it probably will be in some cases. Then, only replace essentials that are required to be posted and severely limit anything else. Most of the information we need is disseminated more effectively using other methods anyway. Obviously there are some events or situations where signs and posters are beneficial or fun. But even those signs should look neat and tidy while they are on the walls or bulletin board.

Next, make sign clean-up a regular activity. Otherwise, in a few weeks you’ll notice the walls have things tacked to them, a broken machine has a torn scrap of paper taped on it, and an advertisement for a class that was given two months ago will still be taking up space. Avoid sign and poster pollution!

November 30th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Supervision and Management | 6 comments


  1. I just counted five dirty and torn signs and posters, and I put three of them up there two years ago. I’ll take care of it, Captain Rowe! A former sergeant of yours…guess who?

    Comment by KSDPD | December 1, 2008

  2. Dear Ms. Rowe,
    What about the stuff my boss puts up that she thinks is really motivational? I guess she thinks everyone will be charged up if they just read a poster that says, “There is no I in TEAM!” Can I throw those away too? Sincerely, Wiseacre

    Comment by Wiseacre | December 1, 2008

  3. I found your site by lucky accident. It’s an interesting mixture. I’ll put it on an RSS feed. I’m a student at OSU, majoring in Speech Communications, and I hope to be a teacher.

    Comment by Visitor | December 1, 2008

  4. Hi Tina! We put dates on temporary items, and one of the clerks cleans things from the bulletin board every week, according to “expiration date.” She happens to like being in charge of the bulletin board, and decorates it like a classroom type board. If she stops doing it, we probably won’t keep it up, but it actually looks great right now.

    I just took down a taped on sign we’d forgotten about, so this was a good reminder. Hope your holidays were good! Phyllis

    Comment by P.A.H. | December 2, 2008

  5. Tina says: Thanks to all of you for your comments!

    KS, I’m trying to figure out who you might be. Send me an email sometime!

    Wiseacre, I agree with your views about those motivational posters, but don’t remove them if your boss put them up. You know better!
    Visitor, best wishes to you! I sent you an email.

    Phyllis, a good idea about the dates on signs. And I have to admit, I LOVE those decorated bulletin boards.At some stage I realized it looked a bit silly for me to be the bulletin board person (rank and all of that) and no one else would do it. But I wanted to!

    Comment by TLR | December 2, 2008

  6. I am seaching for some idea to write in my blog. Somehow come to your blog and it is very good one. Best of luck. Eugene

    Comment by Cesar M | December 3, 2008

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