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close this bookTeaching Conservation in Developing Nations (Peace Corps)
close this folderAppendix D: Signs, labels and guides
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View the documentSigns
View the documentLabels
View the documentGuides
View the documentA suggested nature trail guide for Guatopo national park, Venezuela
View the documentSource materials - Appendix D


Labels are usually smaller than signs. They do most of the interpretive work in exhibits and displays, and on the nature trail. The main reason for a label is to identify an object. The label should also tell the visitor something about the nature of the object, or how it affects the visitor's life. A label is best when it is short and simple. Too much information on the labels will discourage the visitor so that he or she may not read them at all.

Planning the labels is part of the exhibit or trail planning, and should not come after the exhibit or trail is finished. This way you will be thinking of what you want to say and how to show it at the same time. If you have a great deal to say and show, it is better to plan more than one short alternating exhibit or trail program.

A good label will be:

- accurate
- interesting
- short
- easy to read and understand

Example of a good label

Labels can be made of paper, plastic, masonite, wood, plywood, sheet metal, cardboard, paper baggage tags. Labels can be backed by wood, metal or plastic to be mounted or be seen better. Materials which could be torn, bent or broken can be glued to wooden blocks.

Lettering on the labels can be inked or painted by hand or stencil, or press-on letters, or a typewriter can be used. The writing should be neat, clear printing.

Paper labels should be waterproofed after they are lettered. To do this, melt some white wax or paraffin in a large can (coffee can, dry milk can); dip the label in the wax to cover it completely; dry. (Be careful: melted wax can cause bad burns).

Dip market baggage tags in hot paraffin

Nature trail labels can be mounted on simple stakes at the trailside.

For indoor use, in special cases where a newspaper clipping, magazine article or photograph needs special protection, a picture frame or plastic lamination, if available, might be considered.