A GUIDE to understanding the most common poster sizes

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Billboards are great. Whether for advertising an event, marketing a product or simply for decoration, they can be captivating, beautiful and cost-effective. But choosing the right poster sizes is key. This will depend on where you intend to display your poster, and what it advertises.

It is important to make sure you choose the right poster size. Different printers offer poster sizes, and it can sometimes seem confusing when you are trying to format your design.

But don’t worry, there are a few simple guidelines you can follow to make sure your poster ends up the right size.

To help you, we offer this guide to understanding the most common poster sizes.

Summary of standard poster sizes

  • Small – A3 (29.7×42cm)
  • Medium – A2 (42×59,4cm)

  • Middle – A2 (42×59,4cm)

  • Large – A1 (59.4×84.1cm)

Small poster size

Small – A3 (29,7×42cm)

Although small for a poster, 30x40cm approx, it is still large enough to grab people’s attention and contain a good amount of information.

Often referred to as ledger size or tabloid paper, it is the smallest standard poster size.

It is ideal for advertising events without taking up too much space. These posters are often found on noticeboards, lamp posts and shop windows.

They are perfect for public use and for informing passers-by of upcoming events. They are also often used as pin-up posters to decorate lockers and cupboards.

If you’re designing a small poster, try to use a minimalist approach to text and images, as you’ll want to use space efficiently. Think large font and a simple message. Bold colours and a large font size will help to grab people’s attention.

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Crutsen letter for poster

Medium poster size

Medium – A2 (42×59,4cm)

This poster is a very versatile and widespread format, 40×60cm approx. You may have heard of it as an architectural C-size: it’s large enough to hold a bit more information, and perhaps a more detailed image. That said, we still recommend a minimalist approach to designing posters of this size. You don’t have metres of graphic space to play with.

These posters are large enough to advertise and promote concerts, festivals or sporting events, and are often seen in doctors’ surgeries, on the street and on notice boards.

Large Poster Size

Large – A1 (59,4×84,1cm)

The A1 is by far the most common standard large poster size. When you think of a poster, you most likely picture one in this dimension.

These posters are very popular and ubiquitous. They are perfect for a wide variety of uses, from events to small film posters and commercials.

You’ll often see them in shops, concert halls and public spaces. When designing these posters, you’ll want to attract attention. You can do this by using a carefully chosen central image, with bright colours and a large font.

But also now, thanks to these larger poster sizes, you can afford to include more detail in other parts of your design. Like smaller lettering, which means that people reading carefully can get a lot of information about your product or event.

Large poster sizes

Extra large banner size

Extra Large – A0 (60×118cm)

This is the size most commonly associated with cinema posters. If you’re in a movie theatre, you’re probably looking at a poster of this dimension, what the film industry calls a “Single Sheet”.

These posters are also great for promoting concerts, festivals and music albums. They are ideal for outdoor advertising as they can be seen effectively from a distance.

Please note that if you are creating an outdoor banner, you should use a durable banner paper that is water resistant and will not wrinkle or tear when wet or when glue is applied.

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Using these poster sizes, you’ll be able to create the perfect posters in no time at all.

Custom sizing

If you’re designing your own poster, you can’t go wrong if you use the standard dimensions above. These are used by printers around the world, and are proven to be successful.

That said, you should not be afraid to work with different poster sizes, and customise your own posters. The posters can be cut to the dimensions you want. Just contact your printer and check that they are able to print posters in the custom size you want.

Choice of paper

Choosing the right paper to print your posters on is essential. Cheap paper looks like just that, and will often suffer premature wear and tear. That said, you don’t need to spend a bundle on fancy paper to produce durable or good-looking posters. Choosing the right paper is all about tailoring it to your needs.

The first thing to remember is: always use acid-free paper for poster printing. This is the golden rule. You don’t want your poster to turn yellow over time, so make sure you print on acid-free paper. Beyond this, the choice of the best paper for your poster will depend on a number of factors, including:

Cost

If you are printing in large quantities, you may want to print on cheaper materials to save costs. However, if you are only printing ten personalised posters, for personal or limited use, you can opt for the luxury of high quality paper. Before you place your order, ask if you want to print your poster on expensive canvas or 100% cotton paper. The thickness will determine the quality and longevity of your poster.

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Style

Posters can be printed on glossy paper or matte paper. This is really a matter of personal preference. It depends on what you want to achieve with your design.

Gloss highlights bright colours, making them appear crisp and sharp. It is eye-catching and loud. Matte will create a serene, more diffused and subtle palette.

Some papers also have a specific tone. For example, you can print in cool tones (blue tone) or warm tones (red tone).

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Use

Where is your sign to be displayed and how long should it last? Location and longevity are important factors to consider when choosing your print materials. Posters that will be displayed indoors, or in a display case, will be protected from the elements, and therefore can afford to be printed on thinner paper. However, posters that will be displayed outdoors should be sturdier, thicker and more durable, with the highest possible lbs.

If you are printing in large quantities, we recommend using paper with a minimum thickness of 100gsm. Anything less will cause your posters to look poor quality, or to fall apart. If you’re on a budget, it’s better to use thicker paper. Ideally between 150 and 200 gsm. This will give your posters a more luxurious look, and ensure they last longer.

Conclusion

Choosing the right poster sizes is easy.

  • Exhibiting outdoors? Try an extra-large, text-heavy sign.
  • Advertising a product or event? When in doubt, choose the large size. This is the most popular and versatile size. It’s hard to go wrong with the large size.
  • Promoting a local event? The small or medium size will be right for you.

Whatever your wants or needs, just follow our guidelines, and we’re sure you’ll end up with the perfect sign.

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