Landscape of light: Chinese typography and visual communication on Hong Kong’s neon signs

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Hong Kong is labelled as the “Pearl of the Orient” and reflects a spectacular night view of neon lights. Before the rise of television broadcasting, neon signs were one of the most pervasive forms of media, assisting all kinds of businesses in communicating with a consuming public. The Hong Kong Neon Signs Archive involves the photo documentation of over 400 still-existing neon signs since June 2015. It prompted a historical, cultural and contextual study of Hong Kong signs and the below exploration of two inter-related graphic components of neon signs, namely, visual language and typography. This article attempts to explore the following questions: What kind of typography (the style and arrangement of bilingual text) is used on signs? What are the visual languages and conventions of neon signs in relation to different types of businesses? What kind of tacit knowledge (of sign makers) informs the making of typographic neon signs?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-97
Number of pages25
JournalHong Kong journal of Social Sciences
Issue number52
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Chinese typography
  • Hong Kong
  • Neon signs
  • Streetscape
  • Visual communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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