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  • Signs

    June 26, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign at Oakland Airport

    OaklandairportScott Souchock submits a picture taken by Brian Jones in Oakland, California:

    My friend Brian Jones sent me the photo above. He commented: "For me, in person, it was hard to decipher what was to the right and what was directly out the door to the street that this sign was above."

    To solve this problem most clearly would be to print "Through door to" or simply "To." on the sign.

    I believe we rely on arrows maybe a bit too much. In either case, things that are through the door should have a downward pointing arrow because you're going under something.

    Airports and transportation facilities in general, should have the highest quality of signs anywhere, because a lot of people coming and going are one time or infrequent users.

    June 15, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Dark Horse Saloon restroom signs

    RestroomPaul Schreiber points out a photo found on Buzz Andersen's Flickr photostream:

    These gender restroom indications at the Dark Horse Saloon in Boulder, Colorado are very confusing.

    It would be interesting to find out how many people walk into the wrong bathroom.

    June 7, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Lawn sign in the Forbidden City

    DndBase80 submits a picture of a sign taken in Beijing, China:

    Here's a sign I saw on in a park behind the Forbidden City:

    "Please do not disturb me." 

    Is the sign feeling grumpy?

    June 6, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Taxidermy and cheese

    TaxidermyNikki Brown submits a picture of "Wisconsin's Finest Taxidermy and Cheese." Nikki writes:

    It's hard to know where to start with what's broken here really...are you purchasing a block of cheese with a stuffed squirrel treat inside or can you get your beloved dog filled with brie?

    June 2, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: "Just Oak" store sign

    JustoakJames Krippendorf submits a picture of a sign taken in Wales, Wisconsin:

    I saw this sign for a store called "Just Oak & More."

    Who can figure out what they sell?

    I sure can't.

    May 30, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Post office hours sign

    PostofficestarwarssignSarah Beckley writes:

    This US Post Office sign informing you that they will be closed on the upcoming holidays in May and June is broken.

    It is trying to be an ad for the new Star Wars stamps AND a holiday hours notice, but it fails at both.

    The sign is posted on the front door of the post office branch, but the text is not large enough to read at a glance.

    May 25, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: (Just for Fun) Valero gas station sign

    ValeroA reader named Jon writes in:

    While driving through Colorado, this Valero gas station sign caught my eye.

    Apparently this gas station would like to its visitors to barter pizza for unleaded gas.

    Who knows? Maybe using a different monetary unit makes it look cheaper.

    May 11, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Max's restaurant sign

    MaxsramadainnScott Souchock submits a picture of a restaurant sign taken in Seattle, Washington:

    I stumbled across this sign for a restaurant called Max's at the Ramada Inn the other day.

    It is interesting how on the sign, an "All Day Breakfast" is served from "7am to 1:30 pm."
    I wonder what they consider the other 17 1/2 hours to be?

    May 8, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Toilet paper sign

    LolsignNick C. submits a picture taken at a gas station bathroom in Arizona:

    I stopped at a gas station somewhere in Arizona. I went into the bathroom and saw this sign in the stall which read:

    Toilet Papers inside the Toilet please!
    *Thank you!*"

    I found the sign to have very interesting grammar, particularly the use of asterisks.

    May 3, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hair dryer instructions

    030407_1723Mallory O' Connor submits a picture taken in a gym in Vancouver, Canada:

    This sign appears at the gym I attend – the YWCA in beautiful Vancouver. It alternately makes me weep with laughter that we need such a sign in the women’s (or anyone’s) change room.

    I felt a little weird taking this photo on the sly with my phone, but probably nowhere near as silly as the designer who had to be briefed on the assignment to create this happy-hairdrying-hair-on-head-only icon!

    April 26, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Clean sweep campaign sign

    Clean_sweep_campaign_signJason Aller submits a picture of a sign taken in Davis, California:

    I found this sign on campus at UC Davis. It reads:

    This item has been identified as abandoned.
    Please remove in 14 days or it will be removed.

    The problem with this clean sweep campaign sign is that they left off the frame of reference for when the 14 days begins.

    If you see the sign do you have 14 days left, or 1 day left?

    April 20, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: No dumping sign

    Dump1Eric Greiner submits a picture taken in Seattle, Washington:

    There are two broken things going on here.

    1. The signs states "Dump No Material.  Whatever."
    (I know it's a misprint, it should say "Dump no material whatsoever" but it is funny).

    2. The fact that there is a big pile dumped (obviously it was dumped by park services) right in front of the sign adds to the irony.

    April 16, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Warning sign at cliff edge

    HiddensignRory Parle submits a picture taken in Ireland:

    I took this photo of a half-hidden warning sign at the Cliffs of Moher in the west of Ireland - half of the sign is literally inside the wall!

    April 4, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign over garbage can

    GarbageKarl Mok submits a picture taken in Ontario, Canada:

    I saw this garbage can and sign in the lobby of my grandparents' apartment in Scarborough, Ontario. Why is there a sign stating not to put your garbage in the garbage can? Is that garbage can for display purposes only?

    March 27, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Additional parking sign

    AdditionalparkingJane Gaboury submits a picture taken in Norcross, Georgia at "an upscale shopping center called The Forum."

    March 20, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Red Cross sign

    InvertedTerry Spittle submits a picture writes:

    We took this picture of the Red Cross medical post sign in the village of Casarabonela in southern Spain. 

    There was some building work going on at this street corner, and the signs had been put up temporarily to aid the visiting tourist. 

    However, potentially the most important sign, the one for the Red Cross medical post (fourth from the top), is upside down. So it's not clear if the clinic is actually to the right or to the left.

    March 13, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Caution children sign

    LivechildrenJeffrey MacEachern submits a picture of a sign taken in Maple Ridge, British Columbia:

    I took this picture in my townhouse complex of a caution sign which reads, "Caution: Live Children Playing."

    As opposed to...?

    March 7, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Thai bathroom sign

    ThaisignEric McDaniel submits a picture taken in Thailand:

    I recently took a bus from Sukhothai, Thailand to Bangkok. This is a sign on the bus's bathroom door.

    The sign is clearly prohibiting doing something in the bathroom, but what is it? Even our native Thai-speaking companion couldn’t figure it out.

    February 26, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Parking sign in front of police station

    Policeparkingonly_1 Joel Ballon submits a picture of a sign taken in West View, Pennsylvania:

    I photographed the set of signs above in West View, a suburb to the north of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

    The set of signs are directly in front of the common entrance of the Borough building and the police station, which is located in a strip mall.

    would you park between 7 PM and 10 PM?

    February 22, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Mexican jewelry shop sign

    Mexico053Chris Bell submits a picture taken in Huatulco, Mexico:

    On my recent trip to Huatulco, Mexico, we came across this nice little jewelry shop called "Gold Silver shop."

    If you look closely at the store sign, you will see the store's slogan which is "We wont cheat you too bad,"  which, with the obvious grammar errors, also isn't really the best marketing plan. 

    February 19, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Construction warning sign

    Prohibited_1 Brett Pemberton submits a picture taken in Melbourne, Australia:

    I saw this warning sign guarding a construction site with the text -

    Entry to this
    site by
    persons is

    I wonder, does the underline cancel out the quotation marks?

    February 14, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hidden "No Parking" sign in San Francisco

    ObscurednoparkingMike Kaufman submits a picture taken in San Francisco, CA:

    "In August 2006, my daughter got a parking ticket in San Francisco for parking on Marina Boulevard on a street cleaning day.  However, as shown by photograph above which I took a few days later (as part of an appeal of the ticket), the relevant "No Parking" sign cannot be seen because a tree has grown around it."

    P.S. Mike wrote in after his original submission to add: "My daughter Tanya's appeal of the parking ticket was successful! However, I'm not sure whether the city has bothered to fix the problem of the hidden sign."

    February 10, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Lawyer sign

    337889974_fdd029b0f2From Oswego, Illinois, Brooke Novak shows us the sign for the "drive thru lawyer".

    January 29, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: One way signs

    TwoonewaysBrendan Bartholomew submits a picture taken in San Francisco, California:

    I saw a pair of contradicting "one way" signs in San Francisco's financial district.

    Also of note is the little, orange sign nearby, whose arrows seem to be saying "not one way."

    Best of all, the "one way" signs were at the corner of a dead-end street, which means if you are already on that street, you've disobeyed one sign in order to get there, while exiting said street would require going against the other sign!

    There was some sort of construction or roadwork taking place down that dead-end, so it's possible the dead-end-ness of it was only temporary.

    January 26, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Misuse of apostrophes in signs

    218989558_c20717c3b5A photo from Jannygirl's Flickr photostream:

    The plural of oreo is oreos - not oreo's.

    For examples of the rampant misuse of apostrophes in signs see the Grocer's Apostrophe image pool on Flickr.

    January 23, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign with website url

    313937275_cdb146d4d9David Barnes submits a picture taken in the UK:

    I spotted this sign on a primary school display board with the website address UNCONDITIONALCOMPASSION.COM in all upper case, which is not broken in itself.

    What is broken however, is that on the same sign, there is text underneath the url in all upper case that states "all in lower case."

    Whoever printed the sign should have checked to see if web site addresses were case sensitive, (and they would have found out they weren't) before they printed the sign. It is broken to make people think that website addresses are case sensitive.

    January 15, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Free customer parking

    FreebutnoparkingGiudo Loches submits a picture taken in Salem, Oregon:

    We saw these two signs together in downtown Salem - "Entering FREE Customer Parking District" on top of "No Parking."

    I couldn't tell if I was able to park on that block or not.

    January 11, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: (Just for Fun) No fishing sign

    110765351664 A No fishing sign from the site Signs of Life.

    Thanks, Jerome in Paris.

    January 9, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Canada Science and Tech museum sign

    No_stairs_1Jay Heins submits a picture taken in Ontario, Canada:

    While approaching these steps at Canada Science and Tech museum our observant three year old exclaimed that we couldn't use the stairs! 

    This sign, I suspect, was meant to prohibit climbing on the concrete bench. Two changes could have made the message more clear:  place the sign on the front side of the bench, and re-draw the pictogram steps to look less stair-like and more bench-like.

    There was no sidestepping the meaning of the sign for the boy, though. We had to go around to the side door to get in.

    January 4, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Harajuku station sign

    Nosmokingh_1 (Just for fun...) Dominick Washburn submits a picture taken in Tokyo, Japan: it appears that smoking giant, human-sized cigarettes isn't allowed in Tokyo's Harajuku station.

    January 1, 2007 12:03 AM

    Broken: Metro car dealership sign

    1800uglyJay Heins submits a photo of a car dealership sign in Ottawa, Canada:

    This is a sign in front of a car dealership called Metro, which I pass daily.

    They are always cycling through pithy sayings but this one takes the prize. If you can't get the customer's business, you may as well insult them!

    December 21, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Wal-Mart photo lab sign

    Photo_labMickey Mellen writes:

    This picture was taken at Wal-Mart.  I have no problem with them closing the photo lab for 30 minutes, but there's one key piece of information missing - the time the sign was posted!

    I don't know if the sign has been up there for 1 minute or 29 minutes. Without the posted time included, that sign is almost worthless.

    December 19, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Renter sign

    715pagestreetMorgan Johnson submits a picture taken in San Francisco, California:

    I saw this renter's sign with the url - with "street" written in as the last part of the url with a sharpie.

    Really, what would be cheaper?  Printing up new signs or just registering the mispelled url?

    December 12, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Fresh donuts sign

    FreshdonutssignFlickr user Triborough points out a sign from Long Island City in New York:

    This picture was taken at Queensboro Plaza in Queens.

    The store owner should probably redo the "donuts" sign text if they want to try and convince customers to buy their "fresh donuts!"

    November 29, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Cape Cod restaurant sign

    Napis_signRhea Becker submits a picture of a sign taken in Provincetown, Massachusetts:

    This sign reads "Parking while dinning at Napi's 5 pm dinner only."

    It belongs to a restaurant named Napi's - a restaurant that has been around for a very long time, here in Cape Cod.

    Is the sign trying to inform me that parking is only available for dinner at 5 pm?

    Or is it trying to say that you can only park while dining at Napi's - and that dinner is at 5 pm?

    You would think that since they have been around for awhile that they would have had plenty of time to fix their sign!

    November 22, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Embassy Suites exit signs

    TwoexitsAdam Bromwich submits a picture taken in Irvine, California:

    I recently stayed at an Embassy Suites in Irvine where my wife was taking her California Architect's Board exam. On our floor, we spotted these pretty crazy exit signs in a corner of the hallway.

    Simply exchanging them would make sense, since the two exits are equidistant from this corner, but the current configuration is clearly broken.

    It was a little ironic that she and hundreds of other architects at the hotel were there to test/be tested on building and safety regulations.

    November 17, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Boston airport welcome sign

    HepteamReader Linda submits a picture taken at Boston's Logan airport:

    When I arrived at Logan's baggage claim, I was greeted by this sign:

    "Gilead Hepatitis Team welcomes you to Boston."

    There's a surefire way to make visitors feel welcome in your city!

    Actually, I know why the ad was there, but only because I specifically work in this field. A few weeks later Boston hosted the big Liver Meeting.

    November 14, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: No smoking sign

    NosmokingA reader submits a picture of a sign taken in Iraq:

    If smoking isn't allowed, why is there a need to pick up your cigarette butts?

    November 11, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: "Main apartments" sign

    MainsignA reader named Terry points out:

    I like the slogan for the apartment - "Living on Main," when they clearly live on 5th Street in Branson, Missouri.

    November 8, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Pharmacy sign

    MemorylostBlaise Coutaz submits a picture she took in an Italian pharmacy. It continually scrolled a test message...

    Memory lost!

    Blaise writes, "It was rather fun for a pharmacy."

    November 7, 2006 12:05 AM

    Broken: Do not enter sign

    Donotenternew_4I recently spotted this sign in Riverside Park, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Is there any place free from marketing hype?

    "New and improved! Don't enter!"

    November 6, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign in Gaffney, South Carolina

    ItsbackPD from Atlanta, Georgia sends this in:

    This sign found in Gaffney, South Carolina shows a new variation on the misspelling of "it's" - i'ts.

    (Yes, Gaffney is the location of the Peachoid water tower .)

    November 1, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: St. Peter's Basilica sign

    SignatvaticanKristen Lindgren submits a picture taken in the Vatican City in Rome:

    I took this picture while waiting in line to get into St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. 

    I can't really figure out what this sign is trying to communicate. Maybe that one-legged people or people without a shoulder aren't allowed to enter?

    October 23, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Cash machine sign


    Kevin Micalizzi submits a picture taken in England:

    I was recently on a trip to England and came across this sign on a trash bin at the South Mimms auto service area. 

    Every trash bin has this sign that says "Cash machine here."

    I personally wasn't willing to reach in the garbage can to find the cash machine.

    It would have made more sense for the sign on the trash can to say "Cash Machine" and then have an arrow under the text pointing in the direction of the cash machine.

    October 16, 2006 09:15 AM

    Broken: Spurious "copyright area" sign

    CopyrightprotectedareaCommenting on a sign declaring a "copyright-protected area", Cory comments on BoingBoing today:

    "One of the side-effects of the entertainment industry's war on copying is that it's created a kind of folk-mythology about copyright being a kind of magic word you can invoke to put a fence around anything that you want to police."


    October 12, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Cuyama town info sign

    CuyamaErnie Glenesk submits a picture taken in Cuyama, California:

    What is the total trying to describe exactly?

    October 9, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Surgery sign

    SurgerysignDan Thornton submits a picture taken in Dublin, Ireland:

    This surgery sign was taken on a main street in the center of Dublin.

    If they can't keep their sign in good condition I fear how I would actually be treated in surgery!

    October 3, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Warning sign


    Deric Bundy writes in:

    Here is a picture of a sign I saw in Texas.

    If people aren't going to pay attention to the warning signs in the first place, is putting out another sign telling them to obey the signs that they're already ignoring really going to help?

    September 26, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Electronic billboard

    Img_3946_1 Jade Wu submits a picture taken in Las Vegas, Nevada:

    I saw a huge electronic billboard in Las Vegas was showing a Microsoft windows calculator.

    Maybe the operator was asleep and didn't realize what was being shown in the sign.

    September 21, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Braille help sign

    BrailleonpaperChris Barr writes in:

    I went in to pick up my bicycle today from this bike shop and saw this printed paper sign that says - "Please ask staff for help." 

    Right under that text is braille, but the braille is printed on paper that has no variable texture, therefore making the braille unusable.

    September 18, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: "Off limits" sign

    OfflimitsAlex Barrett submits a picture of a sign taken in Anoka, Minnesota:

    So...what? Only unauthorized personnel are allowed?

    This is a completely undoctored photo. I've seen this sign nearly every day for five years when I drive home from work, and it still makes me laugh. The fence is guarding a few military vehicles at the Army Reserve Center in Anoka.

    September 12, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: "Left lane" sign

    LeftlanesignErik Dahl submits a picture of a sign taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

    "Left lane must..." Do what?  What must the left lane do? 

    Luckily for me this is on my commute to and from work, so I know what I need to do.

    This is a very confusing intersection, there is a bridge, a tunnel, and several hills. If you make a wrong turn it is going to be awhile before you can turn around. I see people get it wrong at least once a week, and I'm only going through the intersection 5 times in a week. 

    August 26, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hotel map

    HotelmapDavid Brown submits a picture taken in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico:

    This is the evacuation sign in the room I was in at Hotel Playa Los Arcos in Puerto Vallarta.

    Can anyone looking at this map determine where I was supposed to be located?

    Didn't think so.

    August 22, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Chinese restaurant sign

    ChinanyEric Ford submits a picture taken in Globe, Arizona:

    This is a picture of a sign I took of a Chinese restaraunt in Arizona.

    Since when did Chinese food become "New York Style?"

    August 16, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Discount lunch special

    LunchJoel Adria submits a picture taken in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

    I think what is most entertaining about this "0% off Lunch Special" sign, is that it has been that way for about 5 years.

    August 9, 2006 12:04 AM

    Broken: Huahine bungalow sign

    PolynesiasignMichael A. Schulman submits a picture taken in Huahine, French Polynesia:

    This was the sign directing us to our bungalow during our honeymoon.

    Good thing there were only 40 rooms total. Why not just put them in order?

    August 5, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Pranked street sign

    SignqJen Hough sends in a picture of a sign taken in Seattle, Washington:

    I saw this modified parking sign on 14th avenue that had the word "questioning" pasted on top of "parking."

    This was actually the work of a pranksters who occasionally modify city signs.

    [Funny or not, it's illegal - don't try this at home, kids :) -mh]

    July 27, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Boston signage

    BostonsignsMatthias Bohler points out a picture taken in Boston, Massachusetts by Randy:

    How could anybody get lost in the Big Dig?

    July 22, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Road signs stack

    StoptruckPaul Schreiber points out a picture from Julian Missig's Flickr photostream:

    What is this series of signs together trying to tell drivers?

    July 17, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Chair sign

    WetchairJim Shuma writes in:

    At the Orlando International Airport, some chairs had gotten wet, and they were marked with "wet chair" signs to keep people from sitting on them.

    The signs read: "Welcome to Orlando International Airport. Wet chair."

    The only problem is that the text "Welcome to Orlando International Airport" is so small compared to the rest of the text on the sign that it just looks like the sign says "Welcome to Wet Chair."

    July 12, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Bathroom sign

    ConfroomMichael Schulman submits a picture taken in Columbus, Indiana:

    Is this a bathroom or a conference room? Maybe it is both?

    Since I am a male, I could not enter to find out.

    July 8, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Truck sign

    TruckTyler Walles points out:

    If you are going to name a company "Yellow" then the sign should be yellow as well, not orange.

    July 4, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Bus sign

    BusstandCindy Roche submits a picture taken in London, England:

    I saw this bus sign in London.

    So where do the buses pick up passengers?

    June 23, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Tea list

    Exporte_13Seth Godin points out:

    When this menu of fancy teas was new, I'm sure it was impressive. And when they ran out of the first or second flavor, it was probably okay that they crossed out the missing flavor with a mixture of whiteout and blue magic marker.

    Now, of course, it's just a billboard screaming about a lack of attention to detail. Note that broken plastic stand on the bottom...

    Read Seth's full post

    [...and thanks to Seth for giving us the idea for This Is Broken three years ago! -mh]

    June 21, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Arby's sign

    Chickenfish John Thompson submits a picture taken in Lakesite, Tennessee:

    I saw this sign at the local Arby's, and I'm still trying to figure out what a chicken fish is.

    [Plus... what was the less than 100% natural chicken made of? -mh]

    June 5, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Emergency exit

    EexitMorgan Harris-Warrick points out:

    In the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy center, I came across this door which has both the signs "Emergency Exit Only" and "Not an Emergency Exit."

    So, in case of an emergency, am I supposed to go out this door or not?

    June 1, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Construction site sign

    NosignKen Feldman submits a picture taken in Brooklyn, New York:

    I saw this sign outside a construction site.

    So, only unauthorized people are allowed? This is definitely a unique warning sign for a construction site.

    May 27, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: To restaurant/toilets sign

    Sign012Alan Clarke writes in:

    I came across this sign while I was attending a software design methodology course at an IBM building in London.

    After wondering several times why each time I tried to go to the toilets I ended up in the restaurant, I looked carefully at the sign.

    As you can see, the sign system is of a modular design. One sign would work fine. Two clearly doesn't. With three or more, the system would probably start working again.

    After I took the photo, I watched people make their decisions for a while. I saw that at least 70% turned the wrong way, even after having gone the wrong way once before.

    May 23, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Door instructions

    DoorA reader submits a picture taken in Palermo, New York:

    I biked across the country this summer and stayed in churches almost every night. One night I stayed in a church in Palermo, and I found a door with a plastic sign on it with the text "Keep Door Closed," but there was also a note posted on that same door with the text "Please keep this door open for ventilation."

    However, the door was closed. Which sign would you have paid attention to?

    May 15, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Road status sign

    Notice2_1Steve Horne submits a picture taken in Pelham, Alabama:

    This has to be one of the most poorly thought-out signs I have seen. When is this road going to be closed? One week from when? Which three days of the week?

    This sign definitely doesn't serve as a very useful warning.

    May 10, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Scrapbook store sign

    CrapbooksAaron Vincent submits a picture taken in Littleton, Colorado:

    It's unfortunate that the "S" on this Scrapbook store sign had to be the unlit letter.

    May 2, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hancock Tower sign

    ObservatoryTodd Jennings submits a picture taken during a trip to Chicago:

    This was taken on the ground floor of the 1,150-foot-high Hancock Tower. I was looking for the observatory, and found this less-than-helpful sign apparently trying to convince me that the observatory I was looking for was in the basement.

    April 3, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Parking sign instructions

    I saw this sign in a parking lot...

    ... and was confused: no vehicles beyond the yellow line? What about parking inside it? (And what about those millions of vehicles beyond it? Isn't that a bit extreme to ban them all?)

    March 29, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Garage stalls sign


    Quick: where is stall 268? I had to do a double-take.

    (Hint: signs shouldn't count right to left.)

    March 23, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Broken speed limit

    SpeedlimitAn anonymous reader sends in this picture from Rocky Hill, New Jersey: a 25 mph speed limit sign, then a few yards later a 35 mph sign, then a few yards later a 25 mph sign. Have fun gunning the engine for 0.2 seconds before hitting the brakes again!

    March 18, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Left arrow

    The_other_left Ayse Sercan sends in a picture taken in San Luis Obispo, California:

    I took this photo of a traffic sign at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus.

    The arrow must have meant "the other left."

    March 15, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Liberty Caskets sign

    A_real_dealRick Chambers submits a picture of this unsettling sign in Kalamazoo, Michigan:

    I saw this sign one morning while out for a run and laughed so hard I got a side stitch. Hey, I guess it's good to give the customer options!

    What's even funnier is that unless you peeked in a window, you would see that the business had gone under -- so to speak -- and that the sign refers to the building, not the product.

    March 9, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Parking violation sign

    ViolationLauren sends in this picture taken in an airport parking garage, and notes: "Maybe they are trying to cheer you up after realizing your car is gone?"

    March 7, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Stop sign

    Stop_signsSally Lewis sends in a picture from Louisiana:

    These two signs on the same pole completely baffled me and my passengers.

    Was I supposed to stop or keep going?

    March 3, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Parking restriction signs

    FrontBackPaul Schreiber sends in pictures of two parking restriction signs in Mountain View, California:

    I was trying to park my car on a Saturday on Castro Street. The sign on the left was in front of my car and the sign on the right was behind my car. Am I supposed to obey the sign in front of our car or the sign behind it?

    February 27, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: "Fortune" store mall sign

    FartKevin Jones sends in this picture taken at a shopping mall in Belarus:

    I recently went on a trip to the country of Belarus with my girlfriend. We were walking around a shopping mall and discovered this sign.

    The store is suppose to be a "hip" clothing store, so the sign is made to be in English. The name of the store is actually "fortune."

    In Russian, (the native language in Belarus) they abbreviate the word fortune. The abbreviation translates to "fart."

    The store clerk is aware and just said they didn't know what it meant at the time. Oh well, it has probably tripled their sales.

    February 20, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Temperature indicator on sign

    76019566_2a89f14b01Josh Santangelo submits a picture of a temperature indicator from Matt C's flickr photo stream:

    Wow, Boston must really be suffering.

    February 13, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign to cenote

    Brokenlg Ryan Heneise submits this picture taken in Tulum, Mexico:

    This sign is posted over the entrance to a cenote (which is an underground river). This picture shows the stairs leading down to the cenote.

    What is the "No Touch No break control" sign trying to tell me?

    February 6, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Series of directional signs

    Noway Jim McDonough submits a picture of a series of signs taken in Dublin, Ireland:

    No left turn, no right turn, no straight ahead, and a stop sign!

    No wonder there aren't any cars!

    January 31, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hotel rooms sign

    Hotel_rooms_signHarriet R. Goren submits a picture of a sign at a hotel:

    If you were staying in this hotel, which direction would you go to get to room 1519?

    If you said "right," you're wrong.

    The absence of a dash caused me, and I'm sure many guests before me, to stumble confusingly down the wrong corridor until realizing we were supposed to read the sign across, not down.

    January 27, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Embassy Suites training

    Dsc01513_2A picture from the Embassy Suites Town Lake in Austin, Texas:

    This was taken a few years ago - I thought it was strange for a hotel to offer harassment its own employees, no less!

    (I'll add that it was a very nice place to stay - good location and good service. Of course, that was before the training...)

    January 17, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: "No pets" sign

    Pets_1 Tom McGahee sends in a picture of a "No pets" sign:

    This sign is at the South Carolina Welcome center.

    Are pets allowed if one follows the restrictions?

    Or are pets not allowed at all?

    January 14, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Do Not Enter sign in Delaware

    DonotenterWilliam E. Smith submits a picture of a Do Not Enter sign: This sign is at a church parking lot near Oceanview, Delaware. Should I follow the arrow or the sign?

    January 10, 2006 12:03 AM

    Broken: Restroom signage

    Confusing_signAndrew Koch points out the bathroom sign at Jack's Bar in Warren, Rhode Island - with a much newer "men" sign under an older "ladies" sign. Which is it? Both? Are you sure?

    December 30, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: M27 westbound sign in Hampshire, UK

    Southhampton_1Gregg Bond submits a picture of a sign taken between Fareham and Southampton in Hampshire, UK:

    I was driving along the road the other evening and spotted this overhead road sign.

    Suffice to say, its properly broken :)

    December 7, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Route 95/128 sign in Massachusetts

    Funny_highway_sign1Chet Milosh sends in a picture of a roadway sign:

    This sign is on Route 95/128 just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Route 95 is splitting off Route 128, and the sign is supposed to be alerting you of this.

    However, the sign appears to point to Route 95 which is branching off and becoming a dirt road. Even funnier, it looks like people have taken the dirt road. The actual split is about a mile up ahead, but you wouldn’t know it from the sign.

    To make matters worse, there are a even few little cones that direct you into the dirt road.

    December 1, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Bodega sign on 39th and Broadway

    Hairandnailsalad_29_1Joshua Seiden writes in:

    This fine lunch establishment offers a "Hair and Nail Deli Salad". I may reconsider going vegan!

    November 30, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Grocery aisle sign

    Gadgets and cake mixesJason Kottke points out:

    The problem is that the store has alphabetized the categories, when a better grouping (like by type) would have made it easier to scan. Right now it looks like gadgets are for good eatin'!

    November 17, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Shower signs

    Showersign_27_1Simon courage points out: I saw this sign in a shower at a waterskiing lake in Devon (UK). This is obviously broken. First of all, how did the person fitting the shower not realize? Wouldn't it be better to put the effort into fixing the thing instead of making a couple of signs?

    November 10, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Floor signs at the Getty parking structure

    P3_1P3_2Dan Phiffer points out:

    These are two photos taken on the same level at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

    The first photo is taken from within the stairwell. The second photo is taken where you park your car. No post-processing here.

    Either they ran out of blue paint, or whoever took care of buying the signage was color blind.

    November 8, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Fire escape signs

    Days_road Peter Edmondson writes:

    This is what happened when a friend of mine asked the contractor to put up some fire escape signs in their office in Bristol City Council.

    November 5, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Subway shop sign

    Subway_rockofagesDavid Doolittle points out:

    A sign in Worcester, MA has a combination Subway sandwich shop and tombstone store.

    Hmmm... are they trying to tell you that you shouldn't be caught dead eating there?

    Either that, or their food is "stone cold!"

    And don't miss the Subway slogan: "Revive your day!" Too bad they didn't hang that a bit closer to the Rock of Ages sign..

    October 6, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Monterey parking curb-sign

    24_minJames writes:

    I saw this very close to the Monterey Acquarium in Monterey, CA when I was going back to the parking garage.  I thought the time limit was rather strict. "Thou shalt not stay for 23 minutes, thou shalt not stay for 25 minutes, but 24 minutes only".

    [Maybe not broken, exactly, but it's strangely specific. -mh]

    September 20, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Safeco Field garage sign

    Safeco_3Emily Birch writes:

    This is from the Safeco Field parking garage in Seattle, WA. There are three main streets you might want to exit on to. Two of the exits are labeled "2" and one is labeled "3" (there is no "1"). With the writing so small and the arrows so confusing, it can be very difficult to find your way out of the garage. This is not a garage where the same people park everyday, a lot of tourists and baseball fans park here just once or twice a year and have to stop their cars to stare at the signs to figure out which way to go.

    September 7, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: SF parking sign

    SfparkingCogito Sum writes:

    Figure this one out... That is a calendar at the bottom... and this is only the bottom half of the sign!

    September 5, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Liverpool FC sign

    Istanbul39Paul P writes that "after this Champions League Final (Liverpool FC won AC Milan), they sure need a better banner to display their hard-earned glory."

    August 29, 2005 12:58 PM

    Broken: Sign on glass door

    DontwalkintomeIf you need a sign...

    August 24, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Cafe food warning

    P0214_110759Andrew Woods sends us this phonecame pic and writes:

    Found this in the cafe of my university engineering department. Seems that those thermal dynamics lectures didn't go to waste!

    August 22, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Hotel exit sign

    Emergency1Bryan writes:

    Found this emergency exit sign on the inside of the door of in my Ramayana Hotel room in Bali recently. So far so good. However, note the use of inappropriate, indeed counter-intuitive, coloring, i.e red for where to run and green for where not to run (or stay) in case of a fire.

    Also, it seems to me that the "U are here" hint has no bearing at all on the sign, much less on the location of my room.

    Finally, coloring the arrows to note the path to follow would have helped a lot, as you now have to look quite carefully to discern them.

    Altogether quite tricky to find your way out under normal circumstances, let alone when there's a fire raging and smoke is billowing all over the place.

    August 15, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Signage at Sydney Olympic Park

    NoentryGreg Turner writes:

    I went to Sydney Olympic Park, along with 70,000 other people, to see the opening event of the Sydney Festival. Upon returning to the train station, we were all confused by the signs directing us. 4 passageways had a large "no entry" sign, and one passage (the green to the left of the photo) had an "Entry" sign. Two of the "No Entry" passages had a green arrow underneath, which meant, apparently, that we could in fact enter after all. A good thing too, as squeezing that number of people through only 20% of the available bandwidth would have been even more chaotic.

    August 5, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Restroom sign

    Walden_court_johnPaul Belden writes:

    Walden Colorado, "Home of the 1990 Nation's Capitol Christmas Tree", has a population of 870, an elevation of 8,100 feet, and a restroom in the back of its courthouse that questions whether one should be lady-like, or gentlemanly.

    July 27, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Aquarium sign

    MarinstadiumThis sign at a Japanese aquarium needed a bit more advance planning.

    July 26, 2005 09:13 AM

    Broken: Parking sign

    BccparkingsignCreed Combs asks, "Where do I park the back half of my car?"

    July 25, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign to secret nuclear bunker

    Mail1Chris Worth offers up this sign, pointing us in the direction of a not very "secret" nuclear bunker.

    July 21, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: San Francisco traffic sign

    MailPaul Schreiber points us to this puzzling traffic sign in SF.

    July 20, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Men's room sign in Braille

    MensroomTom Davidson writes:

    This pic is from the National Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC. The public restrooms there have unmarked doors, but have enormous signs hanging from the ceiling just in front of the doors to identify them. Someone realized that this might cause a problem for the blind, so they helpfully added braille to the sign.

    Unfortunately, there are two problems here: the ceilings are around fifteen feet tall, which means that the lowest point of the sign is still more than eight feet above the ground. And even if a blind giant were able to feel the bottom of the sign while looking for the restroom, he still wouldn't benefit from the braille -- which is just printed directly onto the sign; it's not embossed or raised in any way.

    July 13, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Kennedy Space Center admission sign

    Kennedy_space_centerMonica Fry writes:

    On a recent trip to Kennedy Space Center, I came across this sign that caused me to stop and think for a moment. It seems that consumers have been conditioned to compare pricing packages from low-to-medium-to-high. (Think about the last time you paid for a car wash.)

    This sign sends an awkward message by presenting the medium option first, then the low option, then the high option. While I'm sure this was done intentionally to "push" the medium package and get visitors to part with an extra $6.00, I did find it a bit difficult to understand with just a quick glance.

    July 4, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Park sign

    Animals_prohibited3Mike Kendra writes:

    This sign is in a Warren, Michigan park:


    While walking through the park, my wife and I counted over 200 squirrels... somebody should report these violators! (Note squirrel in photo).

    June 27, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Thames Path sign

    LockedDave Lawrence writes:

    Here's a picture of a gate on the "Thames Path" (long distance trail along the side of the River Thames). A large, locked padlock can clearly be seen on the left along with a label saying the gate isn't locked! (it goes on to say that the gate is only for wheelchair access and I guess a 'radar key' is maybe some special skeleton key. They're trying to keep horses and probably motorbikes out)

    June 6, 2005 12:04 AM

    Broken: Stop & Shop signage

    Pb230141Bob Sifniades writes:

    These signs are posted at the Stop & Shop supermarket in Ringwood, New Jersey. [Both IN and OUT doors are subtitled, "Please use other door."]

    June 3, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Tutoring sign

    TutoringIrene Fulton sends this in from near Toronto, Ontario:

    Just a fun submission for you of a picture I took a couple of months ago. This misspelled sign ("TUTOURING") caught my attention. I blocked out the name of the tutoring office, and their phone number. Apparently the sign company made the mistake and took two days to come and correct it.  The owner of the tutoring office was mortified when she saw her sign after it was delivered!  (And due to the metal mesh over the letters, she couldn't correct it herself.)

    Who knows, they may receive more phone calls with the error than without, but the folks who call aren't likely to need help with spelling!

    May 27, 2005 12:04 AM

    Broken: Pepsi vending machine sign

    Bats_1630Ciarán Bohane sends in this photo from a motel in Dunedin, New Zealand, and says: "I was thirsty, but not that thirsty." (Punctuation counts!)

    May 24, 2005 08:40 PM

    Broken: Commuter train warning

    Sign on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train (which goes in and out of New York City).

    May 16, 2005 12:05 AM

    Broken: Atlanta parking garage sign

    Which_way_2Sean Romer writes:

    An Atlanta parking garage provides information that, while perfectly accurate, is practically useless. The added information with the cashiers' schedule is easy to overlook without stopping, and even then it doesn't really help in making a decision.

    Remove the "Park" sign (this is a parking garage after all), and provide two exit signs that indicate which streets you exit onto.

    May 5, 2005 12:03 AM

    Broken: Stop sign

    Well worth a look: a contradictory stop sign.

    April 29, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Heathrow Airport sign

    100_0476_1Jerod sends us a classic from Heathrow Airport in London.

    April 15, 2005 10:14 PM

    Broken: Dollar store sign

    000_0100mmm, more or less fresh!

    April 13, 2005 12:04 AM

    Broken: Sign on glass doors

    Dsc00448Seth Godin writes:

    here's the door at the Armory in Morningside Heights, north Manhattan.

    There are two doors.

    The door that you're supposed to ignore, the one that doesn't open, has a big sign on it. (first mistake)

    That sign says, "USE THIS DOOR" (second mistake)

    It has an arrow that actually has the true instruction.

    Why not say, USE THAT DOOR?

    Even better, why don't they put the sign on the other door and leave the arrow off?

    March 30, 2005 12:07 AM

    Broken: Sign in Cinque Terre

    Cimg1789sizedDavid writes:

    There are no trees, houses, or mixed-sex soccer playing in this Italian town (cinque terre).

    March 26, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Providence walk sign

    StopgoKeith Pelczarski sends in this walk (or don't walk?) sign he spotted in Providence, RI.

    March 25, 2005 12:02 AM

    Broken: No Parking sign

    AjtsizedDaniel Drucker points us to this strange no parking sign:

    "Loading zone. No parking. Except Monday - Sunday."

    Broken: Scout camp sign

    Cope2Adam writes:

    I witnessed this sign at Boy Scout camp Dechora. They have a climbing program there called C. O. P. E. But which way is it?

    March 24, 2005 12:09 AM

    Broken: River access and beverages

    BeverageRiveraccessDave Lawrence sends us two silly entries:

    1) River Access  - this sign has always amused me, first time I've actually had a camera with me to immortalize it!

    2) Beverage - Do you think then tried "out-of-cup" drinks first? Can't have lasted long :)

    March 7, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Fire station in Start, La.

    Start_fire_004Randy McKoin writes from Louisiana:

    This is a fire station in Start, Louisiana and is named Start Fire. Need I say more...

    March 4, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Omelette sign

    OmelettesNorm Tatlock points out a sign at an eatery in the lobby of the Empire State Building:

        All our eggs are made with 3 omelettes

    Norm points out, "If it's not made with 4 omelettes, then you can't call it an egg!"

    March 3, 2005 12:13 PM

    Broken: (for fun) Post no Bills

    From Toronto: A creative take on the post no bills sign.

    Thanks to boingboing.

    February 24, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Illegal electrocution

    1118807_a751d65ba5A classic broken sign, photographed by Steve Jurvetson. See the original post.

    How do they collect?

    February 18, 2005 12:28 PM

    Broken: Japanese warning signs

    The Japanese Warning Signs site shows a collection of well-designed pictorial warning signs. They're a mixed bag of well-designed and, frankly, a bit obtuse.

    Thanks to Boing Boing.

    February 16, 2005 10:54 AM

    Broken: Arby's sign

    CompacityEdward Carlson writes: Some friends and I found this sign at the local Arby's. How could someone misspell that (on a computer), and then frame it?

    February 15, 2005 02:03 PM

    Broken: Rose sign

    100205130000Timely with Valentine's Day yesterday, Pat Dostick writes:

    The sign is located on PA Route 11 in Berwick, PA, in front of a business place called the Second Hand Rose.

    February 14, 2005 12:37 AM

    Broken: Parking lot signs

    CookoutDave Sheets writes: This one was taken at one of our favorite burger joints.  Unfortunately, the signage isn't nearly as good as the burgers!

    February 9, 2005 12:36 AM

    Broken: Safety belt strap warning

    BrokenTim Hunter writes:

    I noticed this "informative" label on the safely belt shoulder strap while riding in a Ford 15-passenger van. None of the 15 passengers could figure out what it was trying to tell us.

    [Don't sit on a pillow while reading the phone book? -mh]

    January 25, 2005 10:39 AM

    Broken: "No feet on wall" sign

    Dsc00141Seth Godin, originator of the idea for this site, writes:

    This is from an office building in New York.

    Apparently, smokers lean against the wall and put their foot up in a sort of Marlboro man way. All I know is that after seeing the sign, I desperately wanted to put my foot up!

    January 14, 2005 12:24 AM

    Broken: Permitted trucks sign

    Permitted_trucksRoy Pittman sends in this bizarre sign from near the Tennessee state line.

    January 5, 2005 12:01 AM

    Broken: Hairdryer sign

    HairdryerAlex B writes:

    This is one of those built-in hair dryers that was in the bathroom of our hotel room. The tag says "unplug it", but since it's built in you can't, and chances are the hotel wouldn't be pleased if you tried.

    December 25, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: (Just for fun) Store sign with time

    Ho_signScott Knox sends us this sign from Market Place Foods in Minot, ND. It's either 1:10pm, or Santa Claus was laughing while he hacked the sign.

    Happy Holidays from This Is Broken!

    December 20, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Restroom sign

    HunhCatherine Mullican writes:

    Here's a restroom sign of ambiguous gender. I found it in a research institute in San Diego. Sorry about the angle and quality; all I had with me was a cameraphone, and the hallway wasn't wide enough to get both signs in frame without angling.

    [Makes one wonder what's being researched... -mh]

    December 7, 2004 12:18 AM

    Broken: Paris street sign

    Paris_signMichelle Reamy writes:

    This sign was posted on the street in Paris.  Such simple design, such unclear intent.  What are they trying to communicate?  Do not hold your child's hand while crossing the street? Children crossing is prohibited? Or perhaps no pedestrian crossing permitted at all?

    Note: Readers have pointed out that this is a standard sign design in France. Thus it is not "broken" in Paris. This post merely points out the difference in the user's perception, based on the designs one is accustomed to seeing.

    November 8, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Home Depot exit (Silver Spring, MD)

    Noexit1350Maggy Sterner writes:

    The Home Depot store in Silver Spring, MD (near Washington, D.C.) has signs that point to the way for you to exit the parking lot. The sign is trying to say, "This is the way to exit." Instead, what happens is people drive up, see the sign, can't figure out what they're supposed to do, get confused, and end up incorrectly exiting the parking lot via the entrance, where other cars are coming in.


    November 5, 2004 12:07 AM

    Broken: Walk sign

    Broken_walk_signRey Hernandez writes:

    This walk sign has the man facing the wrong way.  What I noticed was that the sign appears to be built for arrows pointing in both directions and that one of the arrows has been rubbed out.  This points to one of two things: laziness on the part of the people who put the sign in, or a lack of inventory of the correct signs.

    November 2, 2004 12:34 AM

    Broken: Intersection sign

    Img_0053Todd Stripling writes from Norcross, Georgia:

    I took this picture at the intersection of Rogers Bridge Road and Bell Road in North Fulton County, Georgia.

    November 1, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Copenhagen hotel sign

    Roomsign_1John writes:

    Here's a picture from The Square hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark.  I was staying in room 319.  Which way?

    October 22, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: "Walk" signal visibility

    Dsc00001Dsc00005Brian Everton writes from Winnipeg:

    I walk by this intersection often.  It is right next to a neighbourhood elementary school.  It would seem that the utility pole is older than the pedestrian crossing signals.  Regardless of which came first, the civic signals department personnel continue to service the pedestrian signals which are hidden by the utility pole.  The utility pole is not much more than 18 inches in front of the signal lights.

    October 11, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Japanese pizza sign

    Cimg0258Kenny Kato writes from Japan:

    I went into a bakery at a train station in Odawara, Japan. It was very accommodating to English speakers, as just about everything written in Japanese had an English translation right under or next to it. However, I saw one sign on a clay pizza oven that seemed a bit strange. The Japanese text warns not to touch the oven because of the high temperature, but the English translation does not seem to imply the same amount of caution.

    October 1, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Ski lift sign

    IMG_0228David Reevely writes:

    A sign at the Blue Mountain ski hill in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. I can't decide whether it's a very clever way to make skiers think extra long about the capacity of the lift or if it's just mindlessly dumb.

    [The sign says, "This is a six person chair lift" and shows a hand with six fingers. And yes, I know that the extra finger was probably just for fun. -mh]

    September 30, 2004 12:25 AM

    Broken: Open sign

    Open2Ian writes: "The sign says Open/Come in, while the doors are locked pretty tight."

    [I like this photograph because it's such a good metaphor for poorly designed products, services, and websites. The advertising and marketing efforts try to get people to come in, but the broken design keeps the doors locked tight. -mh ]

    September 21, 2004 12:41 AM

    Broken: Exit sign

    a_streetAlan Voorhees writes:

    Perhaps it's not broken, but here's an exit sign from I-880 in Hayward, CA:

        A Street Downtown

    Maybe "A" Street/Downtown would have been better.

    September 14, 2004 12:34 AM

    Broken: Nail salon sign

    DSC00896OK, just one more apostrophe error, I promise. (For now, anyway.)

    This one has to win the award for the highest number of misused apostrophes in a single storefront. I count fourteen fifteen apostrophe errors. The store, based here in Manhattan, is called...

        Nail's by Deca

    Unless the proprietor only works on a single fingernail, this is broken.

    September 7, 2004 12:37 AM

    Broken: Washington Mutual bank sign

    approxclock2Alex Benenson writes:

    This is a typical bank sign that includes a time & temperature display, only this one also includes the helpful (?) disclaimer, "This is approximate time and temp."

    This disclaimer would only make sense if people expected these types of signs to be very accurate, but nobody does, so the disclaimer isn't telling you anything you don't already know.

    Why did they put the disclaimer there in the first place? Is it there to avoid lawsuits by people who dress too warmly and get heatstroke, or show up late for work and get fired? (And what do they consider to be "approximate" anyway?)

    September 3, 2004 12:14 AM

    Broken: Misused apostrophes

    MalApostropheWalter Erskine writes:

    Found in a parking lot in Anchorage, Alaska, this sign is a fine demonstration of the rampant mis-use of apostrophes in our state, if not yours also. You'd think signmakers would attempt to understand the basic rules (or should it be "rule's") of our language. Why can't signs be proofread by literate people?

    (Also see Eats Shoots & Leaves, the recent book by Lynne Truss. -mh)

    Update: On the comment board, codeman38 points us to this classic: Bob's Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots.

    August 19, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Mall entrance sign

    do_not_enterMark Makower writes:

    Here's one I found this morning in Orange, CT at the entrance to a shopping center. One sign reads "Right Lane Must Turn Right" while the sign at the turn reads "Do Not Enter."

    August 13, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Zimbabwe railroad sign

    image001Terry Jones writes:

    Although the picture didn't come out well (clipped from a video), you will get the idea. I looked up as we were crossing the tracks in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to note that stuck across the traditional "Railroad Crossing" cross was another sign in the same yellow as the original. It said, in very small type:

        These signals are not working

    It could have said, "By the time you read this, you may be in great danger!"

    August 11, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: London double decker bus seating sign

    OutlookJonathan Bruck writes:

    This is from a red double decker bus in London, explaining how many people it can hold. I found myself trying to figure out the seating/standing capacity on this bus. Does anyone have a clue on this one?

    August 6, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Bathroom sign

    controlJonas Luster points out the following sign at a Borders book store: "Due to circumstances beyond our control Backpacks [sic] are not allowed in the rest rooms." What circumstances, I wonder?

    July 29, 2004 12:08 AM

    Broken: Coffee shop sign

    coffeeI saw this sign near Astor Place in Manhattan.

    For ten bucks ("$10.0", as the sign says), this cup of coffee must really be as "extraordinary" as promised. Not to mention shade-grown, organic, and all the rest.

    Note to coffee shops - before you get a sign professionally printed, get the decimal point in the right place!

    By the way, if you like coffee, try these Manhattan coffee shops. (Also San Francisco coffee shops, Boston coffee shops, even Seattle coffee shops...)

    July 14, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Ferry terminal sign

    P0003864Chris St. Pierre writes:

    I took this picture walking into the terminal to the passenger port in Stockholm, Sweden. I was trying to go to Tallinn, Estonia, and I paused there for more than a few minutes trying to figure out which way to go. (Tallinn is listed in both directions.) I eventually guessed right, and was right.

    June 30, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: South African emergency sign

    Mario sends this sign he saw while travelling through South Africa. It is advertising an emergency telephone which is 174 kilometers away.

    June 29, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Transparent glass warning sign

    Molly Stevens writes:

    This store has a glass door so that customers can see inside. They seem to have had some problems with it, and placed this sign right in the middle of the door. It reads, "Caution! Please watch out! Glass door is Transparent!" Something is broken here.

    June 18, 2004 12:25 AM

    Broken: Library sign

    library-signLogan Ingalls writes:

    A friend of mine took this picture in the Bethel Public Library in Bethel, CT. I'd love to say something more about it, but, hey there's nothing much more to say.

    June 15, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Czech escalator sign

    Michal Altair Valasek writes:

    I saw these signs in a subway in Prague, Czech Republic.

    The left sign says: "The escalator is started automatically by stepping on

    The right sign says: "No entry to a stopped escalator."

    June 11, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Baby changing table sign

    Chris Lee writes:

    I saw this above the baby-changing table in a public restroom. It's not the best icon/signage design... it's rather creepy.

    June 9, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Albertson's supermarket cart sign

    Alexander Passmoore writes:

    Here is a picture of a sign so misplaced, it's funny. In the parking lot of an Albertson's supermarket in San Francisco, I looked around for the place to return my shopping cart. Low and behold, I found the sign, but there was a problem. It was squarely on top of the roof. Do they expect me to shoot grappling hooks up there and raise the cart with pulleys? Apparently, there was actually a parking lot up there.

    June 3, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: San Francisco street name spelling

    J Scott Hester writes:

    On most street corners in San Francisco the name of the cross streets are stamped in the concrete near the edge of curb. This picture is of the Northeast corner of Sanchez and 18th Streets. The name "Sanchez" is spelled correctly on the street sign, but incorrectly (as "Sanches") in the concrete below.

    May 25, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Street signs of Arlington, MA

    Bob Cox writes:

    Here is a link to the Missing and Hidden Street Name Signs in Arlington, Massachusetts page. The street signs there are placed far away from the corner, which makes it very hard to know what street you're on.

    May 21, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Advertisement lettering

    Channing Rollo writes:

    How does this company expect to build customer confidence and earn business when its front window reveals incompetence at its chosen trade? Note the peeling and missing letters on the window signs for this signage business.

    May 20, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Gas pump sign

    Dave Marra writes:

    This sign was posted on a texaco pump. It reads, "Debit cards are currently down due to the weather. Please use all cards as credit. Sorry for any inconvenience." What does weather have to do with debit cards?

    May 10, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Bridge closed sign

    Justin Hankins writes:

    When the Norfolk Botanical Gardens began upgrading a footbridge over one of their waterways, they built a temporary pontoon bridge to minimize inconvenience during construction. The only problem is the sign they placed to notify people about the change. In big letters, the sign reads "BRIDGE CLOSED" with a large arrow pointing to the working, temporary footbridge. In smaller letters, the sign says "new bridge being constructed." The fact that new bridge construction is barely visible from the location of the sign adds to the confusion.

    April 30, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Pedestrian experiment

    Dave Lawrence writes:

    The image shows a sign in Cambridge Circus-- a very busy intersection in the middle of London. The sign reads, "Pedestrian Casualty Reduction Signal Timings Experiment." What does that mean? Is it safe for me to cross the street?

    April 23, 2004 12:01 AM

    Broken: Green stop sign

    Heather Johnson writes:

    This is a stop sign at an apartment complex in Irving, Texas. It is a green stop sign. Do I go or stop? Why would anyone make a GREEN stop sign? This is so dangerous.
    [Note: the sign is also physically broken in half through the middle. this is not a composite graphic.]

    April 1, 2004 12:30 AM

    Broken: Safety signs

    Bob Cox sends us two great pointers: the Naval Safety Center's Photo of the Week and Signs of the Times, a PowerPoint file of 29 slides showing various broken signs. Although (I suspect) a couple of the images were edited, most of them appear to be bona fide, laugh-out-loud safety mistakes.

    March 30, 2004 12:12 AM

    Broken: Epcot Center exit sign

    Kevin Frye writes:

    Here is a picture of a confusing exit sign that I saw while on vacation in Orlando, Florida.

    The sign is in the Epcot Center "Journey into the Imagination" gift shop. The sign seems ambiguous if you are not handicapped and just want to leave the building. The door to the right of the sign is simply an exit that is adjacent to the entrance for another attraction. Most of the people who I observed reading the sign were temporarily confused about which way to go.

    March 8, 2004 12:30 AM

    Broken: Restaurant pricing

    Kelly Thomsen sends in this sign advertising a free meal that's not really free. She writes:

    This chalkboard was in the entry of a Big Boy in Clinton, Ohio. The people who worked there were really confused by the fact that we were so interested in taking a picture of their sign!

    March 4, 2004 09:01 AM

    Broken: Microsoft campus sign

    Neil Brewitt sends in this apparently contradictory sign from the Microsoft campus (which way do you turn for Building 40?), and writes:

    I took this photo about four years ago. Has Microsoft harnessed wormhole space travel?
    Neil also confirms, if you were wondering, that "there really is no Building 7."

    John writes:

    There is apparently a reason for the missing building 7 - from Dylan Greene's blog:

    "Even Microsoft employees sometimes forget which building is where. They weren't built in order, and some numbers are missing. The way the numbering works is that each time Microsoft plans a building, it gets a number. When projects are canceled or delayed, the buildings end up being built out of order or numbers go missing. A favorite prank is to send an intern to a meeting at building that doesn't exist.

    In the distance you can see the recruiting building. ~Dylan Greene"

    Grant writes:

    I work on the MS campus. While the sign looks amusing from that angle, but it's actually not broken at all. The sign is on a corner, so its two sides are being presented to people coming from roads 90 degrees apart. If you're coming from the road on the left, buildings 40-44 are behind you -- but the sign can't exactly tell you to go off in reverse. Thus, the arrow points off to the right, taking you around the block to the buildings. On the other hand, if you're coming from the road on the right, you can just go left and drive straight to those buildings.

    February 19, 2004 12:43 AM

    Broken: Gas pump sign

    J. Michael Riley sends in this picture of a professionally printed label on a gas station pump. (Pity if they're paying by the letter; they could have saved some money.)

    February 18, 2004 12:39 AM

    Broken: Elevator buttons

    Andrei Sedelnikov writes:

    This is a picture of an elevator cabin in our office building in Filderstadt, Germany.

    "U1/U2" mean underground floors, "E" usually stands for "Erdgeschoss" - the ground floor. Up above there is a shield with companies' names on each floor - very useful for an occasional visitor. The problem arises when the visitor wants to get out of the building: which button should he press, [E] or [0]?

    Recently I have indeed observed a visitor, who has pressed both buttons because he didn't know which one would lead him to an exit.

    February 16, 2004 12:22 AM

    Broken: Barcelona sign

    Jesus Encinar writes:

    A friend sent me this picture from Barcelona.

    February 13, 2004 12:17 AM

    Broken: Interstate sign

    Scott Yates writes:

    Here's a picture of a sign over eastbound US 36, the main highway that connects Boulder to Denver.

    The problem is the order of the panels. Any reasonable person would look at the sign and think that the exit for northbound I-25 is coming up on the left side. It turns out that it's a right-side exit [seen in the distance in the picture], so traffic is often terrible because drivers have to cross the through lanes in a real hurry to get to the right side to be able to exit. There have been a number of accidents.

    Scott Yates also sent the "after" picture at right. He writes that "CDOT fixed the sign after MyTrafficNews made a big stink. All the problems with people zooming over two lanes of traffic in 100 yards stopped the first day they made the fix."

    January 5, 2004 03:00 AM

    Broken: No Parking signs

    Eric Hammond writes:

    I took this picture in Monrovia, California. I did park there. I didn't get a ticket. I don't know why.

    December 18, 2003 03:29 AM

    Broken: Santa sign

    I spotted this outside a restaurant in Tokyo earlier this week. A Christmas sign whose English translation went horribly wrong...

    December 12, 2003 03:37 AM

    Broken: Unfortunate store name

    Petteri Lyytinen writes from Finland:

    Here's something we came across on our interrail through Eastern Europe.

    It's a jewellery store in Prague, Czech Republic.

    I wouldn't like to consider myself stupid, but this one left me dumbfounded. Could you, or one of your readers, please explain to me, what the heck is "perky schmuck jewellery"?

    December 11, 2003 03:33 AM

    Broken: Hand-washing sign placement

    Anthony Malloy writes:

    This sign is above the taps in our men's washroom.

    Why do I think it's broken? The intent of the sign is to remind people of good hygiene - wash your hands before heading back to work. Only thing is, it is above the taps, and if you're there you're probably already going to wash your hands. This sign should be on the door that leads out of the cubicle area.

    I also find it funny that the sign underlines hands - as if people are busy washing other body parts, but not hands.

    December 3, 2003 03:00 AM

    Broken: Railway platform door

    Chris Heathcote writes from England:

    I was in Birmingham New Street railway station (England) today - one of the waiting rooms on the platforms had this great combination of signs. I didn't manage to get a picture of the various people that went up to the door and physically tried to prise it open.

    I guess the door is automatic, once you push the button.

    December 1, 2003 12:03 AM

    Broken: Sign typography

    Andrea Emery writes from Ottawa, Canada:

    Every day I cycle into school and on my way in, I pass this building sign. It's been up for quite a while and I couldn't resist snapping a photo of it. It's a perfect example of the Gestalt principle of proximity: things that are grouped closer together are perceived as belonging together. Therefore we tend to read this sign from top to bottom and not necessarily line by line.

    November 24, 2003 12:03 AM

    Broken: Road sign

    Maurice Gaston writes:

    This sign caught my eye as I motored down the main road through town. Some bright soul tried to be as helpful as possible by including all the relevant information on this sign for me. Too bad the the type is too small to see at 30 mph...

    November 21, 2003 12:01 AM

    Broken: Sign for "automatic door"

    Victor Stanwick writes:

    I took this picture over the summer at my eye doctor's office in Ft. Lee, New Jersey. Automatic door, pull to operate?

    I realize that it's a power-assisted door that opens easily with a slight pull, and that the door works perfectly. It's the sign that I think is broken.

    November 18, 2003 01:38 AM

    Broken: Safety sign on door

     Alex Cook writes:

    These pictures are from my work. I think that our safety officer is going a bit far by posting instructions to open doors! Perhaps he has too many acquaintances in the litigation business.

    November 14, 2003 01:25 AM

    Broken: Sign to restroom

    Mark Hall writes:

    I was recently in Zermatt, Switzerland where, after hiking for two hours to the top of the Gorner-grat bahn, I was in need of "the facilities." This is a picture of the sign that is supposed to direct you to them. Maybe it was the altitude, but my first impression was to walk around in a circle (or more exactly a rectangle) and the hope the toilet would magically appear.

    In fact, the sign actually indicated that the entrance to the toilets was around the corner (just one corner mind you, not the three depicted). I guess I'm just used to the one-arrow-at-a-time approach to signage.

    October 23, 2003 08:30 AM

    Broken: Street sign

    Steve Coan writes:

    It's kind of useless to have a brand new, beautiful, blue
    street sign if there's going to be a stop sign in front of it. Picture taken in Colleyville, Texas on 9/22/03.

    October 15, 2003 10:15 AM

    Broken: Playground sign

    Dianna Ott writes:

    What am I supposed to do, now that I know that there's a playground for the next 4,350 feet?
    This unit of measurement is beyond my comprehension while I am
    driving at 35 mph.

    October 14, 2003 10:09 AM

    Broken: New York City signage

    A New York Times article a few days ago covered broken signage all over the New York City area. Pictured at right is one such sign, pointing to Yankee Stadium. The problem: this sign is located in lower Manhattan, and the stadium is in the Bronx - about seven miles away, with lots of street navigation in between.

    As the article states, "signs pointing to destinations miles away in other boroughs are not of much help."

    October 9, 2003 10:29 AM

    Broken: Highway sign

    Stephen Cullar-Ledford writes about a highway sign I've wondered about for years:

    This sign is commonly used to warn drivers that the right lane is ending and that they need to merge to the left. However, the two lanes on this sign only get closer together instead of actually merging. My (unlikely) theory about the design is that we're supposed to see the negative space between the lines as the shape of the roadway, which would make it correct.
    Update: I forgot to mention Stephen's addition: "I'm not the first one to notice this..." - see this page for a report on the sign.

    October 1, 2003 10:41 AM

    Broken: Harvard library dropbox

     Charles Henebry writes:

    These two pictures show the dropbox for Lamont Library, Harvard's undergraduate library in Harvard Yard. A new sign was put up recently to clarify when the dropbox should be used; unfortunately (as is clear from the close-up photo I've attached) the directions don't make sense.

    September 26, 2003 10:54 AM

    Broken: Net connection sign

    Meg Lauber writes:

    We were in Vancouver recently, and while waiting at the Pacific Central train station we noticed these signs.

    I wasn't brave enough to see if there actually was a computer in there, much less whether it was hooked up to an outbound network.

    As always, click the graphic to see the whole story...

    September 24, 2003 10:59 AM

    Broken: Exit sign

    Iain Tait writes from London:

    It's almost surrealist in its absurdity.

    From a recent trip to the States, the photo was taken at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

    September 16, 2003 11:26 PM

    Broken: Hotel exit sign

    Steve Jackson writes in:

    This is from the Tremont Hotel in Chicago. The dueling exit signs appear to point to the door in the middle, which is actually room 607. I'm guessing whoever's in there isn't real happy whenever a fire alarm goes off.

    September 15, 2003 11:27 PM

    Broken: Sign on paint machine

    Julius Welby points us to his photo of a sign on a paint-mixing machine. He writes: "You know what I was itching to do, don't you?"

    September 4, 2003 11:36 PM

    Broken: Office signs

     James L. sends two pictures from his office:

    The first picture is a sign inside the bathroom stall. Sadly, the very reason you're in there doesn't seem to be allowed.

    Second is the sign pointing to the emergency exit. This photo is taken as you come into the office, ie, the exit is behind you. Right now the sign points to an office with no exit.

    September 3, 2003 11:37 PM

    Broken: Bike path signage

     The bike path on the west side of Manhattan is a local favorite. Don't get me wrong - we love the bike path.

    The only problem is that the signage can be confusing. In the first picture, two stop signs compete with two green lights. Should the cyclist stop or go? Also notice that it's hard to tell that the trail isn't for walkers. Painted on the pavement just above the cyclist icon is the rollerblader icon, which looks an awful lot like a person walking.

    The second picture shows the markings on the pavement - triangles and perpendicular stripes - that (I assume) tell cyclists to slow down, stop if necessary, and allow pedestrians to cross at the crosswalk. But that's just a guess.

    Thanks to Peter Frishauf for the photos. He points us to "They are actually taking
    legal action over the stop signs.....apparently they are a violation of state law."

    August 21, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: London airport sign

     Glen Raphael writes from London:

    Imagine a London Gatwick airport passenger in a hurry. He sees the sign pictured below and skims enough to recognize it as saying "This is South Terminal. All airlines operate from this terminal blah blah blah" followed by a list of airlines. Looking down the alphabetical list of airlines, he finds British Air, the airline he's looking for. "Great! I'm in the right place!" he thinks. After wandering about South Terminal for a while and not finding British Air, our passenger goes back to the sign and reads it more carefully.

    As it turns out, the sign is an exclusion list; it features a long and imposing list of all the airlines that aren't in this general area. The full text at the top of the sign says "This is South Terminal. All airlines operate from this Terminal EXCEPT those listed below which operate from North Terminal" (emphasis added).

    August 7, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Neon sign

    Micah Boswell sent in this photo of the Danals grocery store in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, the neon sign wasn't cooperating that evening.

    July 30, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Shop sign

    Joel Varney sends us this sign outside a stationery store in Palo Alto, CA. He writes, "I was so interested in figuring out why I shouldn't touch it that I didn't notice the primary message."

    July 28, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Subway safety sign

    John Payne points out this example from the New York City subway system:

    These signs can be found throughout the NYC subway system when construction is going on. I've always thought it was funny that, to the user, the first sign is really just a setup for the second sign (so people know what RCA means). And somehow, despite the two large yellow signs, people still don't get it!

    July 25, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: (and fixed) Los Angeles highway sign

    Shelley Ross points out this intriguing story: a Los Angeles resident got so tired of a faulty highway sign, missing the mention of I-5 North, that he installed it himself. Here's a video.
    Also detailed on this page (scroll down to the article):

    For years, Richard Ankrom, 46, knew that the word "NORTH" should have been included over an emblem for Interstate 5, two miles before the exit from the Harbor Freeway.

    Finally, last August, Akrom went to work donning a hard hat and orange reflective vest to avoid raising suspicion. His pickup truck had a logo on the side that read: Aesthetic De Construction.

    July 23, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Post office doors

     Matt Youell writes:

    These are two shots taken at the post office in Carmichael, CA. (For clarity, these are a pair of one-way doors at the front of the building.)
    I'd like to think that the problem is obvious. Just in case, I'll point out that the Do-Not-Enter/Do-Not-Exit doors both have pull-handles for your convenience. But hey, at least they're consistent.

    July 10, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Highway signs

     Two today from Amy Dalton in Pittsburgh, PA.
    First picture: Which direction would you turn to get onto highway 19? (Hint: You guessed wrong. Click to see the larger image.)
    Second picture: Can you imagine trying to figure this out at 60 miles an hour (100 kph)?

    July 7, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Sign at a conference

    Eve Andersson saw this sign in at a 1999 conference for 1,300 process consultants at a global consulting firm.
    (Hint: http://)

    July 1, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Airport sign

     From Chicago's Midway Airport... Mordechai Rosner couldn't find the information center, until he finally found it under this broken sign - a chilling example of what happens when users aren't accounted for in the design process. He writes, "even signage needs a proofreader!"

    June 26, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Restroom sign

    Seen at a rest stop between Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC. These signs are on the interior of a bathroom stall door.

    Thanks to Libby Cecchi!

    (Click the image to zoom in.)

    June 21, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Fast food sign

    "Do Not Enter" sign is placed in front of the fast food entrance. It's supposed to be a sign for the parking lot.(Click the image to zoom in.)

    Thanks to Melanie McIntosh.

    June 20, 2003 06:00 AM

    Broken: Harvard Business School reunion sign

    Sign seen at the Harvard Business School alumni reunion 2003, directing alumni to lunch. (How does anyone read this sign? Are they supposed to get food at all?)

    Thanks to Good Experience reader Phil Terry.

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