poster design tips

Translating a design from your computer screen to the real world can pose a challenge for even experienced designers. Printed colours look very different from their screen cousins, and those differences are exaggerated when the finished product is a larger-than-life poster.

We asked the large format print experts at PrismTech for their take on the five most important things to keep in mind when printing a poster.

1. Check your font size and style.

Posters are intended to be read from a distance, so make sure you choose fonts that are easily seen from farther away - fonts with a bold stroke and clean lines work best. Keep a close watch on font size too. A general rule of thumb is that each letter on your printed sign must be at least one inch tall for every 10’ of distance between the poster and the reader. For more on selecting font size, check out this blog post.

2. Choose a colour palette that is attention grabbing but not overwhelming.

Some colours are more effective on posters than others. Choose a colour palette that conveys the message and emotion you want viewers to experience. Think about whether your chosen colours will have impact even when viewed from a distance or in dim light. Contrast can be an effective tool to amp up the impact of your chosen palette, especially when softer colours are a must.

3. Start with the right file specs.

It’s possible that your original file will be only a fraction of the size of your final printed piece. The key to ensuring that the printed poster is as sharp and clean as your on-screen design is to sort out the technical specifications for your file before you start designing.

Choose a large format printer you can count on to help you, then follow their guidelines to make sure that your original file is the ideal size, shape, proportions and resolution to deliver an optimal result. If you start out with a well planned file, you’ll run into fewer production challenges along the way.

4. Use Space to Your Advantage

White space - the negative space between design elements - is a useful tool in focusing the viewer’s attention on the most important aspects of your poster. The most effective posters are clean and uncluttered. Don’t feel that you have to use up every last pixel; allow your message room to breathe by strategically using empty space as a form of punctuation to highlight your message. Vary the amount of space between elements to indicate when two or more elements are closely related and should be interpreted as a group or to separate distinct sub-points within your key message.

5. Keep It Simple.

Possibly the most important choice you can make to guarantee the effectiveness of your poster design is to keep it simple. Even though your poster will be larger than life, viewers may have only a few seconds to notice it and understand the message you need to convey. Simplicity and focus are key to making sure you get your point across.

Keep your message to a single main idea. Then use bold, clean images and short, direct statements that leave no doubt about what you want the viewer to know (or do).

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