Bib Fonts for Photos

We use Google Vision to automatically tag photos in our Race Day Photo platform. We are collecting more data on what works best and what does not.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 7.47.12 AMThis past weekend, Run the Bluegrass used the photo platform and had bad tagging results with Google Vision reading the “7” as a “1” in many photos. For example, this gentleman was tagged as “1412” rather than “1472”. And it tagged him that way in multiple photos.

The previous weekend, Best Damn Race used a new bib color scheme and font for their New Orleans race, and got much better results. For example, Google Vision picked up all of the images of bib 1472 correctly:

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 7.50.47 AM

So what are the recommendations? Here is what we can determine so far:

  1. Use High Contrast between the background and the number. It seems to work for Black on White or White on dark.  Having a dark number on a dark background does not provide enough contrast for Google Vision to pick it up. So be careful with multi-colored backgrounds.
  2. More Spacing Between Numbers. This is called kerning.
  3. Use Thinner Numbers. Thick numbers like the ones used for Run the Bluegrass are not read well. Don’t use fonts in a “Bold”, “Condensed” or “Black” style. Examples: Impact, Helvetica Black, and Arial Condensed Black.

And remember some of our older advice. Use only 4 or 5 digit numbers – that way you can use the ability to ignore tags with 2 or 3 digit numbers where a runners arm may be blocking some of the bib. There are other tricks in our Bib Exclusion algorithms as well.


Author: RunSignUp

RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for race registration, race day solutions, and running clubs. Services include RunSignUp for registration, RunSignUp Go for Race Day, RunSignUp RD Go for Timers, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RaceJoy for mobile experiences. More than 10,000 race directors, timers, running club officers and running stores use these services today, including leading organizations like the Boilermaker Road Race, Crim Festival of Races, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., Fifth Third River Bank Run, Blacklight Run, Bubble Run, Night Nation, Mercedes Marathon, Kentucky Derby Festival, Leone Timing, KC Running Company, Compuscore Timing, Knoxville Track Club, Pikes Peak Road Runners, Gulf Coast Runners, Columbus Running Company, Playmakers Running Store and many more. In 2015, over 10,000 races used the system to register more than 2.7 million participants. In 2016 over 14,000 races will use the system to process over 4.3 million paid registrations. Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions such as race registration or club membership renewal. RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community. For more information, visit

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