Design Tips for a Fabulous Poster
Do you want people to look at your poster? Understand the messages you are trying to convey? These easy tips will help you make sure that your poster is being seen!
You can also download the full Poster Design Booklet for a complete guide!
1. While much of design is common sense, thinking about and drafting your poster on a piece of paper could help you decide how you will design your poster to quickly convey important information, make it visually appealing, and easy to understand for your audience.
Some questions you may want to consider before you sit down to plan your poster are:
- Is it for a conference or a class?
- Are there specific requirements on size, text, pictures, number of colors used?
- What information is vital for viewers to know in order to understand your project?
- What information can be assimilated through handouts or one-on-one conversation?
- When does the poster need to be completed?
2. Design Considerations
- Images and text should be large enough to be seen from a distance. Make sure your text is over 24pt. Anything less, and people probably won't be able to read it from far away.
- Size: Some common poster sizes are: 11”x17”, 18”x24”, 24”x36”, 30”x40”, 36”x40” and 42”x72”. The CTLT requires that one dimension is shorter than 44 inches to print on the poster printer there.
- Layout: There are two main layouts, portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal). Click here to find the questions you should ask yourself when planning your layout.
- Will the poster be landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical)?
- How can your layout make the most important points of your poster stand out?
- How will your audience member know what parts to read first, second, third, etc?
- Will you use arrows?
- Will you use a border
- Color: You will want to make sure you are using color purposefully. Make sure you have a reason for choosing a color—don’t just put color everywhere because you think it looks cool, or you could end up with a rainbow mess! Some helpful hints are:
- Most people find it easier to read light text on a dark background
- Yellows and pale oranges can be difficult to read from far away
- Use different colors to highlight different aspects of your poster Click here to find the questions you should ask yourself when deciding what colors to use.
- Will your poster use color?
- What color will your background be?
- What color will your border be?
- Is there a specific range of colors you are trying to use?
- What color is your background?
- Do different elements of the poster have different background colors?
- What colors are your graphs and charts going to be?
- Text: This is the most important part of your poster. It should be clear, concise and readable. Be careful not to overwhelm your audience with too much text. Also try to divide your poster in sections, use bullet points to break up long paragraphs, and use arrows or lines to guide your reader from section to another. Click here for questions you should ask yourself when choosing and arranging your text.
- What type of font will you use? Serif (Times New Roman) or sans-serif (Arial)?
- How big will your text be?
- What color will your text be?
- Will some of the text be a different color than other parts?
- Will some of the text be larger than other parts?
- What kind of mood are you trying to evoke with your text (Comic Sans looks bright and childish, while Brush Script looks very dramatic)?
- Will you bold, underline or italicize parts of the text to make them stand out?
3. Graphs and Charts: To create a graph or a chart, you will need to enter your data into an Excel spreadsheet and then port it over to Powerpoint with a key. Make sure that you label your graph or chart as clearly as possible. Try to reference your graph or chart in your text to tie it into the overall poster. Click here for questions you should ask yourself when making a graph or chart.
- How many graphs will your poster have?
- Do the graphs help inform your audience on your topic?
- Do the graphs act as attention-grabbers to interest audience members in your poster?
- Do the colors in the graph compliment the other colors on your poster? Do they stand out?
- Does your graph have a border? What color is the border?
4. Images should be original high-resolution pictures (recommend 300 ppi)
- Resolution is the number of pixels in an image. It can be presented in PPI (pixels per inch), by the width and height of the image, or as the total number of pixels. For more information on resolution and how to determine what is high enough resolution, read the brochure: The Essential Details of Image Editing.
- One of the biggest downfalls of posters is the images. Try NOT to use any clipart. Everyone has seen and/or used it. What you can do is take or scan your own high quality pictures. This will prevent your images (such as those found online) from looking fuzzy, pixelated, or downright ugly.
5. The average poster is only looked at for 11 seconds!
- Ask a friend to look at your poster and time them. When the time is up ask them to look away, and tell you want they remember or understand about the subject of your poster. It they got it, great; if not then change the design of your poster. Make sure that you quickly and clearly convey what you want through your poster!
6. If you want to help in planning your poster or would like to have someone make recommendation for your design, email the CTLT@goucher.edu for a free appointment with a Digital Arts Specialist ("green shirt" to help you out!)