Pass the post-its: A definitive guide to making the most eye-catching window sign

Picasso’s got nothing on me


It’s safe to say that university students in Covid-19 self-isolation have been bored out of their minds. It’s a fatal combination of the monotonous passage of the hours, their deliciously cholesterol-inducing diet of exclusively pot noodles and their increasingly infallible memorisation of the entirety of ‘Friends’ as they re-watch it for the 17th time. But out of this monochrome existence has emerged a glimmer of hope. An artistic innovation. A cultural renaissance, if you will. And this has been the discovery of the modern art form that is the post-it note window sign.

I’m sure we’ve all seen those classic pictures of post-it note images on the news or on social media but I’ll clarify if not; this is key cultural knowledge that we all need to know, after all. Students arrange post-it notes in their windows to form various words and images, asking for anything from reduced tuition fees, to booze, to literally any form of human interaction that isn’t five painful minutes in a Zoom breakout room with someone you’ve never met.

But if you thought making these signs was an easy task, think again. It’s time to go on an adventure. A paper-y, adhesive, don’t-leave-your-bedroom kind of adventure:

Step one: Decide whether a post-it note sign is really your vibe in the first place

There’s a lot of considerations to take into account here. The first thing to know about these post-it note signs is they do use up a lot of paper. Each time a student tears off another post-it note, a tree weeps. That big oak tree outside college will know what you’ve done, and the question you need to ask yourself is if you’ll be able to face it again. You also have to make sure you have enough friends to do make one of these signs. Bit sad to be doing it on your own.

Just rope in Gary for a picture with you and the window, and you can pay him later. But seriously, the making of post-it note window signs is generally considered amongst experts to be an extreme sport, and it therefore requires a team effort. This is not for the faint of heart. Can you cope with the months of training, the financial investment in the equipment required, the emotional strain that this will place on you? In short, can you handle the heat?

Proving that I have at least one (1) friend

Step two: Choose the colour of your post-it note

This is an extremely important and life-changing decision. Your choice of post-it note colour is as inextricably linked with your personality – nay, your very soul – as your childhood experiences or your star sign or your Hogwarts house (#Ravenclaws4life).

You are married to your choices here. In this relationship, there is no chance of divorce. You’re in it for life. Will you choose a lurid, neon snot green, a salmon that looks like a bad sunburn, or a yellow that’s far too aggressively cheerful for a hungover Saturday morning? The choice is yours but choose wisely.

Akin to the effect of how you choose to pronounce the word ‘scone’, your choice of post-it note colour will shape the course of your relationships, and indeed your life. Some people may not accept your colour choice. Cut them off. This is serious and we need to be ruthless. Prepare to defend your colour choice with your life – we rise at dawn.

So many colours, so little time

Step three: Select the image or words that you want to depict

The choice is endless really. Will you go for some politically charged slander? Will you invoke a proverbial quote from the prophet that is Gemma Collins? Will you take a minimalist approach and simply place a single post-it note right in the centre of your window?

As seen below, we have gone for a humble smiley face – classic, timeless and universal. The choice is yours. But just know that, like your post-it note colour choice, everyone will hold you to this decision for the rest of your life. No pressure or anything. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules – this is the post-it notes’ world and we’re just living in it.

The only smile you’ll see in this household on day 10 of isolation

Step four: Start a conversation with another window

You know that elusive enigma of a Bio Natsci student who supposedly lives in the block opposite you, but you’re starting to think they might be a literal phantom because you’ve never seen them emerge from their biological cave of a bedroom before? Now is the time to draw them out. Use your post-it notes to ask them how they’re doing/if they can bring you alcohol/if they’re alive. Why not?

Even if they don’t reply, you get a bit of exercise while putting up your sign – I fully had to do some parkour and climb on top of my desk to put mine up – so you’ve got nothing to lose. You never know what you might find. I mean, they might just end up being really bizarre, or, in fact, an actual ghost, but it’s worth a try.

So, with 100g of self-isolation, a spoonful of boredom, and a dash of WHSmith’s current best-selling stationary item, you too can become an artiste like the university students that have gone before us. Go forth and post-it.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Food for thought: How (not) to feed Cambridge students in self-isolation 

38 of the 4,660 Cambridge students tested positive for asymptomatic COVID-19 last week 

Why I’m disappointed that my COVID test was negative 

All image credits to author.