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7 Standard Poster Sizes And Their Areas Of Application

Posters have been in use for several centuries. The first-ever posters were called ‘broadsides’, a sheet of paper with print only on one side, and used for commercial and public messaging. Fast-forward to the beginning of the 1870s and the poster was the main tool for advertising and mass communication in American and European cities.

Throughout history, posters have been one of the most effective tools for raising public awareness and influencing people’s decisions. Whether it was for wartime propaganda in the early 20th century or as a medium to sell products and services, posters have consistently been a popular choice for advertising.

Because the objective of each poster is different, they come in different sizes. 40” x 60”, 27” x 40”, 24” x 36”, 18” x 24”, 16” x 20”, 11” x 17”, 8.5” x 11” (in the order of large to small) are the standard poster dimensions.

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How To Choose The Right Poster Size

Your poster size would depend on the volume, budget, the display content, to name a few. 

If, say, you need to produce a couple of hundreds of posters, then a small-size poster may be the right choice for you. 

Marketing posters, for example, are smaller. Smaller posters are cheaper compared to larger ones and easier to create, while they tend to be ordered in bulk as well. 

On the other hand, if you’re planning to order 10 to 20 posters to display only at prominent locations, then a large poster might suit you. Remember, though, that larger posters are expensive because of the size of bigger press sheets. 

8.5” x 11” is the size of Picmaker’s posters and it’s the smallest of the common poster dimensions. The poster size is best for handouts in the streets, help desks, and more.

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Poster Sizes

Let’s now look at the standard poster sizes and when to use them to ensure you achieve your campaign goal(s) while making sure you stay within your budget.

40” x 60” Poster (1016 x 1524 mm)

Also known as the bus stop or subway poster, it is displayed in glass-enclosed hoardings and commonly seen at bus stations, and designed for outdoor display. The size is typically 40” x 60”, although it can be stretched to a larger size. 

The display content is often varied but features attention-grabbing, colorful artwork, printed on paper stock with a matte or shiny finish. The coated paper used for printing this size of poster enhances the brightness of colors compared to that of uncoated paper. 

Best for:

  • Movies, events, advertisements, and promotional posters
  • Posters with big, bold typography and striking visuals to grab people’s attention

27” x 40” Poster (686 x 1016 mm)

This size is standard for movie posters and is typically in portrait format. It is a single-sheet poster—the 40” x 60” poster is two-sided—that is commonly displayed outside movie theaters, promoting the latest flicks.

Similar to the bus stop poster, this, too, is printed on paper stock and you can choose between matte and glossy finish.

In addition to advertising movies, the poster can also be displayed at shopping malls and in high-traffic locations where people can consume the displayed information at a glance.

WATCH: How To Use Meme Marketing For Your Business In 2022

24” x 36” Poster (609.6 x 914.4 mm)

It is the standard size of large posters and is a popular choice for advertisers to capture their audience’s attention with an enticing message or piece of art.

Posters with these dimensions are typically seen at shopping malls, trade fairs, sidewalks, events, and concerts, to name a few. One of the key advantages of this poster is the displayed information can be consumed with ease from a distance (say, 10-15 yards away). 

This poster works well for the display of complex design, illustrations, bold typography, minimalist artwork, and more.

18” x 24” Poster (457 x 610 mm)

This is a medium-size poster that suits both indoor and outdoor display as part of campaigns, small-scale movie promotions, smaller advertisements, celebrity posters, and more. 

The dimensions allow for a combination of imagery, graphics and bold text to be displayed, while the poster information can be consumed from close-up and at a distance of 2-5 yards. 

The compact display size and richness of content mean 18” x 24” posters also work well for in-store promotions and on notice boards at schools and colleges.

16” x 20” Poster (406.4 x 508 mm)

These dimensions are commonly employed for print posters whose goal is to capture the audience’s attention with an impactful message. A 16x20 inch poster can be used to promote events and advertise products, on notice boards, as window signs, or for decorative purposes such as displaying a family vacation photo, artwork, and more.

11” x 17” Poster (279 x 432 mm)

This is a small-size poster, also known as ledger paper and tabloid, that doesn’t take up much space and is ideal for indoor display. Lounge areas, waiting areas, and bathrooms are some of the ideal locations for a poster with these dimensions. 11” x 17” are the typical dimensions of a marketing poster.

For the poster to be effective, its design must be a blend of a minimalist color palette, bold typography, plenty of negative space, and clear illustrations. With these elements of design taken care of, the poster information can be absorbed from a 2-5 foot distance. 

The size and nature of these posters mean that they need to be displayed at the eye level of viewers and passers-by.

LEARN: How To Create And Edit Designs In Picmaker

8.5” x 11” Poster (215.9 x 279.4 mm)

This is the smallest poster, also known as an A4-size poster and poster flyer, that is ideal for display advertisements in small spaces. These posters are commonly seen in helpdesk areas, in art galleries, and on community notice boards.

Posters with these dimensions are best for:

  • Announcements
  • Communicating information
  • Sharing schedule
  • Publishing company policies

Because the poster size is small, it’s important to keep the text to a minimum and complement it with relevant imagery to ensure readability and legibility.

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Poster Design Tips

To ensure your poster helps achieve your campaign goals, you must implement certain key design principles that will help it stand out in the public's eye.

Make It Readable From A Distance

Your poster won’t be able to do its job if the information printed on it is illegible. It should not only be easily readable, but your poster information should be easy to consume from a distance of a few feet or yards away.

How can you achieve this?

Organize your poster information with the help of a headline, body text, and fine print. 

  • Headline: People will either be drawn to your poster because the headline captivated them, or they’ll have turned their attention to somewhere else because the headline didn’t pique their interest. While you must make sure your headline is crisp and enticing, ensure also that your choice of typeface is readable and grabs readers’ attention.
  • Body text: In this section, you must cover the ‘what’ and ‘when’, and, if applicable, also the ‘where’. This helps readers to understand the main focus of your poster and how it’s relevant to them. These details will enable them to decide if they should act on the poster’s information.
  • Fine print: This piece of text must be small and should help the viewers understand what else they must know from looking at your poster.

Consider Placement

Your poster placement will be guided by its dimensions (including the aspect ratio), but it’s important that you know your target audience and where your poster might be at its most effective to drive your campaign. 

Knowing the placement is also key to designing your poster for visibility and persuasion. It means your color scheme, design elements, and typography will be guided by your poster location.

Create Different Dimensions Of Poster

You shouldn’t restrict yourself to printing posters in one size alone, even though your campaign goal and use case might call for specific dimensions with the placement finalized before print.

If possible, create enough copies of your poster in the dimensions you’ve chosen. Then create the same poster in two or three different sizes to target audiences via different channels and in different places.

You might want to:

  • Create an 8.5” x 11” poster to distribute on streets and as handouts
  • Create a mini version to share with your email list
  • Adapt your poster as per your target social channel’s guidelines

Ensure Ample Spacing

That is, between the design and text elements, you must provide ample space to enhance the readability of your poster information. 

This means you should provide space between each line of text and the individual letters. Consider your choice of font and the design elements before deciding the exact spacing between them. 

The right spacing will significantly improve the visual impact of your poster, in addition to making it easily readable from a distance.

Be ‘Bold’ With Your Font Choices

Yes! Be flexible with your choice of fonts and don’t hesitate to opt for two or three fonts if it helps create the visual impact that drives the desired audience action. 

You can choose fonts that are bigger, wider, and bolder if it radiates the right tone for your poster and makes the information easily consumable.

Your choice of poster font would also depend on what you’re selling: whether it’s an event promotion, a product or service launch, or another.

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Conclusion

The poster is a popular advertising tool that helps advertisers drive the desired audience action. Since its emergence as a mainstream form of advertising, posters have helped drive the success of various campaigns, including the wartime propaganda during WWI, the political campaigns in recent decades, and many others. 

Posters come in different sizes, while advertisers also have the option to create custom-sized ones. However, some of the standard poster dimensions are: 40” x 60”, 27” x 40”, 24” x 36”, 18” x 24”, 16” x 20”, 11” x 17”, and 8.5” x 11”.

These posters help promote movies, events such as music festivals and art expos, and product and service announcements, or they can also be used for aesthetic displays at home or in workplaces. 

Designers must ensure their posters are readable from a distance, consider the location before designing and printing, create different dimensions for promotion across different channels, provide ample spacing, and be bold with their choice of font. 

Picmaker is an AI-powered poster creator that enables anyone to create impactful posters in minutes. The library is stocked with hundreds of inimitable, catchy poster design templates that require little customization. Picmaker also empowers you with a suite of intuitive features such as MAD Button and Background Remover to fast-track your poster-making process. Log in and start designing your own poster for free, NOW!

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