Making your own Shanghai street sign

At my recent engagement party we had designed some personalised Shanghai street signs! A lot of people asked me how to make one, so I thought I’d provide a tutorial.

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If you’re not familiar with Shanghai street signs, this is how modern signs look! You’ll still find older green signs around Shanghai, but all signs in central Shanghai use the new format.


My first step was to recreate the shapes, colors and fonts in Illustrator. If you don’t have Illustrator you can download a 30 day trial version from Adobe as part of Creative Cloud.

You can download my completed Illustrator AI file here.

For fonts I’m using 黑体-简 for the Chinese text and Helvetica for the English text. You can substitute similar fonts if you don’t have those on your computer.

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It’s best to convert text to outlines before sending to a printer – you can do that in Type > Create Outlines.

Next, I contacted a printer: I can recommend PicJoy in Shanghai – you can email them on print at For 2 copies on A2 sized foam board, 1 side printing, matt lamination, they quoted me just 50 RMB.

In 1-3 days you should receive your street signs! You can easily cut them out of the board using an Exacta knife and a ruler.

If you make your own Shanghai street sign, do send us a picture!

Matt Mayer

Matt Mayer is a founder at ReignDesign. Matt is from the UK and was based in Shanghai for ten years. He is now living in Bangkok, Thailand.

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