Enhancers and silencers often depend on the same transcription factors (TFs) and are conflated in genomic assays of TF binding or chromatin state. To identify sequence features that distinguish enhancers and silencers, we assayed massively parallel reporter libraries of genomic sequences targeted by the photoreceptor TF CRX in mouse retinas. Both enhancers and silencers contain more TF motifs than inactive sequences, but relative to silencers, enhancers contain motifs from a more diverse collection of TFs. We developed a measure of information content that describes the number and diversity of motifs in a sequence and found that, while both enhancers and silencers depend on CRX motifs, enhancers have higher information content. The ability of information content to distinguish enhancers and silencers targeted by the same TF illustrates how motif context determines the activity of cis-regulatory sequences.