Tips for Powerful Poster Design

Janice Jenkins asked:

When people approach a poster for information, they do not want to spend all afternoon reading it, or trying out how to read it. You need to design a poster that is easy to read and understand, and easy to navigate. People should intuitively know which way to go next to read about the next topic.

You will want to use custom poster printing in most cases for an effective sales presentation or a successful trade show appearance. If you let the poster printing shop design your poster for you, you may end up with something that looks an awful lot like your competitor’s poster.

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when creating your poster:

• Keep the title brief and explanatory.

• Provide an intro or abstract so people know what they are looking at and what information to pay attention to or look for.

• Plan a story if appropriate – stories are the best way for people to recall facts. Make sure your story has context – what, why and how; results and analysis; and the importance of the results. What happened or what’s going to happen in the future because of this story?

• Use concise language and bullet points.

• Use easy-to-understand graphs and tables with clear labels.

• Include an image of a finished product or end result that will impress viewers.

• Make the flow intuitive – people should be able to tell which way to look next very easily.

Basic steps to creating a powerful poster

Before you even pick up your poster board, you need to decide what one concept you want the poster to express to the audience. Make sure all your text and graphics point to that one concept. If you have multiple concepts, you should probably have multiple posters so you do not confuse people.

Next you should determine the size of poster you need. This will depend on how much info you need to present, based on the first step. Then you should sketch out how you imagine the text and graphics will lay out on the poster. Make sure the photos or tables are drawn in scale with one another and with the text. Then you need to gather your supplies – send photo files to the printer, send text files to the printer – and whatever else the printer may need. If you are assembling the poster yourself, make sure you have glue sticks, scissors and a ruler to make sure things are spaced evenly.

Give yourself a week minimum to design and create a poster. Give yourself a few more days after that to practice your poster presentation. Make sure your presentation covers all the key points in the poster and expands on what the poster states – do not just read the poster to your audience.

A note about color

Make sure the colors you use complement each other. Gray and other muted colors are best for the background and brighter colors work well for borders or emphasis. Just do not go overboard with the colors – stick to two or three colors (not counting your photos, of course).

One last thing

And the last thing you should do before sending anything to the printer, and when you get your poster back from the printer? Proofread, proofread, proofread. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a typo or spelling error in your poster.

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