Poster Design

Poster design is a common project for designers regardless of where they work. From small posters that might hang in an office to oversized, huge-scale designs for display in theaters or outdoors, poster design is an art form of its own.

Whether you’re crafting your own poster design or looking for a template to get started fast, we have all the tools you need for the perfect design.

How to Design a Poster: 5 Tips

1. Start with Specs

poster design

Poster design starts with a common canvas. Common poster sizes include:

  • 8.5 by 11-inch letter (or A4)
  • 11 by 17 inches
  • 24 by 36 inches
  • 27 by 41 inches (standard movie poster size)
  • Posters are most commonly designed with a vertical orientation

While most of these sizes have a similar aspect ratio, you’ll probably have to make some design adjustments for different sizes. You should also take time to think about printing from the start. Will the poster be printed with or without a bleed? That can truly determine the direction of the design.

2. Create a Visual Theme

poster design

Since a poster is often a one-off design, you can create a visual theme unique to the project.

Start with one dominant element to drive the design. This can be a photo, illustration or text. The reason you want to create a distinct and dominant visual is that posters are most likely to be ready from a distance. You want people to see the design from across the room and be drawn into the content.

Poster design also tends to “live” in a cluttered space with lots of competition for attention. A strong visual theme can help your poster design stand out.

3. Include Key Text Elements

Most poster designs have three levels of text. You should establish a type hierarchy that provides ample readability for each.


The biggest and most important text in the poster. It should be big, huge even. These words will catch the attention of passers-by from a distance and make them want to know more.


Particularly for events or timely poster content, this text is somewhat smaller than the headline but still of a decent size. This text should answer any question the user has after seeing the headline: Who, what, when, where?

Fine Print

The smallest poster text is often reserved for mandatory information, disclaimers or other small details that only the most interested people will read. It might be there for legal purposes and does not have to carry much visual weight in the design.

4. Play with Contrast

poster design

The most important overall visual element in a poster design is contrast.

Make sure the design provides plenty of contrast in terms of:

  • Size of elements in relation to one another
  • Color of background and foreground elements
  • Visual separation from the location where the poster is located

5. Create Multiple Versions or a Series

poster design

A poster design can be shared on social media to help drive traffic to an event or to boost branding.

While some poster designs are simply made in one size for hanging in various locations, it’s more likely that you’ll need the same, or similar, designs in multiple sizes. Or maybe the poster design is for a series of similar events with a similar, but with a slightly different main image and/or text.

Think about how to adjust your poster design template or custom design to different sizes and for use with different pieces of content for a constituent visual theme.

These different sizes can also extend to use in digital formats as well. A poster design can be shared on social media (often with a different aspect ratio) to help drive traffic to an event or to boost branding.

5 Poster Templates

Not sure where to start with a poster design? A template can provide a great place to start with a preplanned visual theme.

Just find a template that suits your content and style – we have five great options here – and customize it with your colors, branding and information. Be creative with these templates, even though they often have a theme associated with them, most can be used for almost any purpose.

1. Vibrant Music Festival Poster

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2. Hippies Party Poster

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3. Colorphonic Poster

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4. Indie Music Poster

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5. Fashion Show Poster

poster design