13 Effective Pro-tips on How to Design a Poster
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Posters have been around for a long time and they’re not going anywhere.
They’re the original informational and public notice tool used since the beginnings of papyrus writing mediums and continue up till now to be one of the most dynamic marketing tools available.
Posters became a formidable advertising medium in the 19th century when Jules Chéret revolutionized the lithographic process with a breakthrough technology that allowed artists to create colorful posters.
Since then, posters have been one of the most popular printed marketing materials, as their attention-grabbing size and cost-effective printing options offer you a great return on investment for your advertising.
Posters are everywhere from in-store wall displays to large outdoor displays such as bus stops, popup stands, and trade shows, and of course, inside institutions, entertainment clubs, and schools.
While they have been around for a while, it can still be a tough job to make a poster. That’s why we’re sharing some effective poster design tips that can help you ace your own poster designs.
Whether you’re a business owner, content marketing manager, designer, healthcare professional, intern, event manager, or student, at the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make a stunning poster.
Before we dive in, let’s check out poster sizes.
Dimensions of posters
There are several poster sizes and dimensions that you can choose from Knowing them will help you make an informed decision.
Here’s an infographic on the standard poster sizes used by printing companies all over the world.
Standard Poster sizes
- A4 Paper: 8.5″ x 11″ (21 x 29.7 cm) – Commonly referred to as handbills or flyers, these styles of posters are ideal for personal use. In addition, since they look like postcards and are easy to carry around, you can use them for personalized messages.
- Small Poster: 11″ x 17″ (28 x 43 cm) – These posters are perfect for promotions and mini in-store advertisements that you can place on the wall, street lights, and bulletin boards.
- Medium Poster: 18″ x 24″ (46 x 61 cm)/ 19″ x 27″ (48 x 68.6 cm: These types of posters are ideal for shop window, clinics, university walls and portraits. While they’ll naturally hold more information than small posters, you still want to avoid overwhelming the design with text.
- Large Poster: 24″ x 36″ (61 x 91 cm): Also called wild posting posters (also called wheatpaste posters), these posters are commonly used for lightweight, repetitive mass postings on fences and walls in the city usually used to advertise music concerts, events, and nightclubs.
- 27″ x 39″ (68.6 x 99 cm): This is another large-size poster known as a single sheet or film poster. This dimension is ideal for movie posters.
- 40″ x 60″ (101.6 x 152) : This dimension is the larget poster size. You’ll often see this bus stop advertising.
Some designers and printers within your locale may have other specific terms they use for each poster dimension. Recognizing these sizes can guide you when talking to a designer or printer about your requirements.
US Standard Poster Sizes Table
What size should I use for my own poster?
The poster size you’ll use depends on your goal. Whether you want to create an event poster, conference poster, advertisement poster, political poster, movie poster, information poster, or motivational poster, your designer can give you a more in-depth guide on the perfect size for you.
How to Design a Poster From Scratch
Creating a poster from scratch, you can choose to employ professional graphic designers or go the DIY route.
If you don’t have the design skills, contacting a graphic designer online or a professional design agency would be your best chance to create a stunning poster. They’ve seen it all and know exactly what works and what doesn’t. They can guide you on the best options for your posters.
If you’re tight on budget and think you might be able to create your own poster yourself, we’ve got you covered.
In the following section, we’ll provide detailed information on how to design a poster yourself from scratch.
Identify your brand image and personality
Every marketing material you create is an extension of your brand identity, nonetheless your poster design. Your poster design has to be a reflection of your brand values, and personality.
This can be tedious if you’re not already sure what your brand image is or if you don’t already have a brand style guide.
To get a hold of your brand identity, write down a brief description of your business, then ask yourself:
- What are our core values?
- What do we want people to feel when they think about us?
- What’s our unique selling proposition?
Once you’re able to answer these questions, you’ll be able to create designs ht are consistent with your brand image and personality.
For example, this poser from The North Face reflects the company’s image and personality of ruggedness and outdoor adventure. Check out some business logo design ideas.
Identify the goal of your poster
Once you can pinpoint your identity, before putting anything on the blank canvas staring at you, you need to identify the purpose of your poster.
- Do you want to inform people about your new product?
- Are you inviting people to a concert or a conference?
- Are you hosting a sale?
- Do you want to teach people about an industry or how to handle a product?
- Do you have data to share with people?
A poster can help you address all of these needs. Once you think about the primary goal, you can decide on the size, poster design, and poster content.
For instance, if your goal is to educate your audience, your poster should be designed strategically to provide the necessary information without overwhelming the audience.
Take a look at this educational and informative poster design
The poster uses simple illustrations and easy-to-follow text boxes that make the reader grasp the information instantly. The message in the poster show statistics, following the title that’s written in bold.
Using simple colors and white space also helps make the poster more engaging. This kind of poster can be pinned to a wall or notice board for easy access.
Also, check out these infographic posters:
Like informative posters, infographic posters use graphical elements such as illustrations, icons, or photos combined with text to break down complex information in simple terms and visually-appealing designs. In addition, these kinds of posters can serve as a learning aid.
Identify your goal, and build your design around it.
Consider your target audience
After identifying your goal, consider who you’re sending your poster to and where they’ll be. Knowing your audience will help you decide on the design elements and choice of words to use.
For example, look at this political poster design:
During World War II, Howard Millar created this political incentive poster for Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing. The illustration and text “We Can Do It!” appealed to women and induced female patriotism, reduced absenteeism, and boosted employee morale.
Also, check out these fundraising posters:
Look at both poster designs; while they both seek donations, one requests a donation and includes contact information, and the other is an invitation.
This means that the former targets a wide range of audiences including those who can commute to an event and those who can’t while the latter targets those who can commute to the event.
The key is to create a customer persona for your audience so that you can appeal to the right audience with your design. Check out some creative ideas for posters.
Draft an outline
Once you identify your target audience and the message you want to send to them, it’s time to draft an outline, highlighting key information.
An outline helps you to capture your message in a clean, clear, and concise manner.
Without an outline, you may be tempted to overwhelm your poster with too much information which would confuse the readers rather than inform them.
For example, the poster design blow tries to do too much on a single page:
To make the best of your poster design, you have to recognize that less is more. Include only the information that matters most, such as the name of your company, the headline, body text, call to action, and contact information.
Decide on the medium
The final thing you should do before creating your poster design is to decide where you want to share your poster.
Is it going to be shared in print with people by hand or hung on a wall? Or are you sharing it with followers on social media?
Deciding the medium will help figure out how to optimize your design as there are different approaches to optimizing for print and social media.
- Optimize your poster for print
If you’re planning on printing your poster, you should consider the following guidelines:
Visualize where you will pin your poster
You probably already have an idea of where you want to share your poster. Look at the space and how your poster will fit. This will help you make a decision.
If your poster is going on a wall with other posters, it is better to print it in a large size so that it will stand out.
But if it’s going on a bare wall, you should print in a smaller size and pin up a couple of them to create a better impact. Find the social media image size guide.
Select a standard paper size
When creating your poster design, it’s important to consider the preset sizes. This will help you make a poster that captures your audience’s attention.
While larger posters would definitely require you to find a printer, you can print smaller posters yourself by designing them to fit the standard ISO A1-A5 printer paper.
Set bleed marks for printing
In printing, bleed refers to having the images, colors, and text of your design touching the edges of the page, leaving no margin. When you have a bleed in your poster, your printer will leave a thin line around the edges of the paper where you can cut.
- Optimize for social media
If you’re sharing your poster online, you should bear in mind the guidelines for specific platforms. This will mean you’re designing different versions of your poster to fit different platforms to make it effective.
These are the standard dimensions for each popular social media platform
- Facebook: 1200 x 628, or 1200 x 1200 for square
- Twitter: 1024 x 512
- Instagram: 1080 x 1080, or 1080 x 1350 for portrait
- Pinterest: you have the chance to play with length here, but consider the ratio 2:3 to 1:3:5
However, you should know that web banners are the best digital ads.
It’s time to start creating your poster.
Start with pre-design poster templates
If you don’t have the design skills and experience, making a poster can be neck-breaking. A poster template eases the poster design process, by giving you a blueprint to build on.
There are several places to find poster templates online such as Canva, Venngage, Visme, Piktochart, etc.
These websites offer unlimited access to free templates and premium templates. They also offer editing tools that allow you to create beautiful posters. Once you’re done editing, you can download the finished product and send it to your printer.
Here are some things to keep in mind before you start customizing a poster template:
- Check out if the poster layout fits your brand colors and goals.
- Check out the design elements such as header placement, image placeholders, background images, icons, fonts, and more.
- Choose a poster with the dimension that fits your medium
- Make sure you can customize the template to align perfectly with your brand values and goals.
Bear in mind that your template might as well not be your final design. You can send the template to a professional graphic designer who would use it as a head start to help you create a more beautiful poster.
Pick a relevant or branded color scheme
The color scheme of your poster design has to be eye-catching as it is the first thing people will notice in your poster, so it’s crucial to get it right.
This will be easier if you already have strict brand guidelines that you follow. If you don’t already have one, you can learn from the color theory. One prominent technique you can learn from is the 60-30-10 color rule,
This color rule involves picking a new color palette, then making 60% of the palette a neutral or primary color: red, blue, or yellow then two other colors – one complementary color which will make up 30% of the palette and accent color which will make up the remaining 10% of the design.
If you’re undecided about the colors to choose, you can use a tool like Adobe Color to pick colors that match your primary color.
You can choose to add up to two more colors to your design. The point is to maintain hierarchy in your design.
You can also turn to color psychology to choose colors based on the meaning and emotions that they elicit. For example, orange is associated with energy and playfulness. You can
Use Contrast to create a hierarchy of information
In design, contrast means determining what you want your viewers to notice first. Contrast helps you to draw attention to what matters most in your design.
You can achieve contrast by making one element bigger than the other elements around it.
For example, you can use fonts to create contrast. Look at the event poster below. The designer uses different fonts to highlight the most important message.
While the date is at the topmost part of the poster, you’ll most likely notice the name of the event first. If you’re taking a quick scan through, you’ll also notice the venue and time within a few seconds of looking.
You can also use colors to achieve contrast. Using colors that stand out from the background can help you direct the reader’s attention to what matters. This can work perfectly for your CTA.
You can use the same font but with different colors to grab someone’s attention.
Include a clear call-to-action
Your poster must include actions that you want your audience to take. Regardless of the type of poster you create, you should include a clear CTA.
This may or may not involve reaching out to you for more details. Your CTA can be:
- Register online
- Sign up today
- Purchase now
- Visit our store today
- Download the app
You should ensure that your CTA is easy to spot and distinguishable from other pieces of information in your poster.
You might want to argue that CTAs don’t apply to motivational posters. You’re right. But they’re also calling to action themselves, no?
Use icons to visualize concepts
Icons are representations of concepts. They help you convey information quickly and aesthetically. Icons can replace your texts or become the focal point of your design. Check out the guide for, how to design an advertisement poster.
Consider the following basic principles when using icons in your design:
- Use consistent icon styles: consider line thickness in your icons. If you start with flat, stick to flat throughout.
- Use icons sparingly: don’t overwhelm your poster with icons. Use white space to give your design a breather.
- Make sure your icons align with your messages.
- If icons replace texts in your design, ensure that the meaning is obvious.
Usually, icons are easy to decipher because they are used often in the real word’ However, some industry-specific icons may be hard to understand. So, you might need to add labels or titles to them.
Use high-quality images & stock photos
Images play a crucial role in your poster. They help to convey emotions better than any other design element. If you’re creating a fundraising poster, you want to include images that support your cause and strike emotional chords in your audience.
Images also help you convey professionalism and trustworthiness whether it serves as a background image or the focal image. For example, if you’re creating a business poster or real estate poster, you want to include images of a staff member or images of a house, as applicable to give the readers an idea of what to expect.
You may choose to replace images with graphics or icons. But when you decide to use images, make sure you’re using high-quality images. This may be a stock photo or your own images.
Your posters will not perform well, if your images are not crisp and clear, especially when you have to print them out or enlarge them.
Proofread and download
Now that you’re done with the entire design process, it’s time to download.
Before you download your design from the editor, proofread for errors. Mistakes can damage the effectiveness of your design. If might make you seem unprofessional, or worse, send your potential customers in the wrong direction,
Check for grammar usage, spelling, and punctuation. Also, ensure you’re using words and phrases that aren’t open to multiple interpretations. In addition, check that all information related to your business is accurate.
Once all boxes are checked, download in multiple formats.
Send to a printer
Find a quality printing company, if you don’t have the facilities for printing. You can search online or ask for recommendations.
Remember, the final print plays a crucial role in the beauty of your posters. So, you want to find a printer that’s worth their ink.
Look out for various options. Check for reviews, and ask for past works and rates before you decide on the final option. Also, discuss paper stock and paper coating options with your printer as both are important for the durability of your posters.
Once you have the finished product, you can go on to distribute your poster!
Make your poster with All Time Design
All Time Design has battle-tested designers that can deliver your poster design at lightning-speed time.
What you have to do is provide the necessary details and sit back while we complete your design.
All Time Design provides unlimited graphic design at a flat fee with a 14-day risk-free trial.