How to Determine How Many Menu Boards You’ll Need

When the time has come for you to address your menu board needs there are a number of factors for you to consider.  Some may read this and think to themselves, “isn’t it just one big board?”  Well it could be, although we wouldn’t recommend that.  Having separate menu boards serves two purposes: 1- You are able to more easily categorize your menu items, and 2- It makes it much easier on your customers to find what they are looking for, thus getting them through your line quicker.  Another reason for avoiding one large board is because of the initial shipping costs and ongoing maintenance.  Unlike smaller, modular menu boards, a larger panel would have to be shipped via freight carrier.  Inevitably the cost is greater.  Now consider if you had to make changes to your menu items or pricing in the future.  Would you rather replace the entire, large board or a small piece of a menu system?

So now that I have “convinced” you that you should use a series of panels to comprise your menu board system, here is what you have to take in to account when determining the amount of panels you should go with:

Menu Boards#1- Your available space

Quite obviously, you can’t squeeze menu boards in to an area that doesn’t allow for them.  Make sure you get a good handle on your available height and width.  However, this isn’t the only thing to keep in mind.  You may have infinite width to work with but much of it may be outside your ideal marketing zone.  Put another way, if you have a 10′ counter, you probably do not want to exceed 5′ on either side of that counter.  If they are too far beyond where people queue to order, the boards themselves will be ineffective.

#2- The amount of menu items and their descriptions

If you are only looking to have your menu items and pricing listed, it is pretty easy to determine how many panels you’ll need.  The menu board company you are working with should be able to tell you how many lines you can fit on a board.  For instance, a standard 22.5″ x 32″ panel allows for 24 lines of content.  Where it gets a little hairy is with descriptions.  Descriptions tend to eat in to a lot of your available real estate.  We have discussed ways to avoid this in an earlier blog.   

#3- The size and quantity of pictures

Pictures can be very helpful to identify the certain areas of your menu.  They are also the best way to wet someone’s appetite.  The size of such pictures can range depending on use and objectives.  Your interior design and the brand that you are trying to establish should be at the forefront of your mind when considering what you would like to see on your boards.  If you have a display case and you work as a “pick-and-continue” operation the need for pictures may be null.

#4- The distance from menu boards to your customers  

The distance between the menu boards and customers is important because of legibility.  The further back your customers are from the signs, the larger the font should be.  The larger the font, the greater proportion of space each item will take up.  When measuring, be sure to take the distance from where you envision the middle of the menu boards will be down to where your customers will be standing to order.  This distance will be greater than if you measured from the floor straight out to where they will be standing.

#5- Do you want to leave space for promotions?

Many menu board systems leave a panel or two that are dedicated to limited time offers (LTOs) and promotions.  This would certainly be recommended, however the determining factors tend to be your available space and again, your menu copy.  If you can manage your descriptions and limit your picture usage to identifiers, you should be able to drum up at least one panel to blast your customers with new and exciting offers on a semi-regular basis.

Is there something that we forgot to mention?  What else can help you figure out how many menu board you might need?  Email us at or give us a call today at 888-235-2579 and let us know!