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Standard Poster Sizes Guide

Posted by Clash Graphics on

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your choices of poster sizes and printing options? Whether creating a captivating movie poster or an informative academic presentation, selecting the right size and printing method is essential for ensuring your message is effectively conveyed. Fear not; this guide to standard poster sizes will help you confidently navigate the world of poster printing.

In this comprehensive article, we'll explore standard poster sizes, delve into custom sizes for specific purposes, discuss the importance of selecting the right paper and printing method, share design tips for effective posters, and help you choose between DIY printing and professional services. Let's embark on this journey to create captivating posters!

a poster with different sizes and dimensions

Short Summary - Standard Poster Sizes

  • Familiarize yourself with standard poster sizes to plan and benefit from the cost-effectiveness and availability of the best options for your project.

  • The most frequently used poster sizes are 11x17, 18x24, 24x36, and 27x40; these standard sizes can produce nearly any poster you can imagine.

  • Consider the text size and readability; also think of the balance between text, images & white space when designing a medium-sized poster or large poster.

  • Select the right paper and printing method considering the weight, cost, lifespan, and acid-free status. Also, consider digital vs. offset printing when deciding your desired poster quality & budget.

The Most Common Poster Sizes

Understanding the standard poster sizes - small (11" x 17"), medium (18" x 24"), and large (24" x 36" and 27" x 40") - can help you choose the right size for your specific needs. These four poster dimensions will work for nearly any project, so consider them for your next poster printing project.

Standard poster sizes offer numerous benefits, such as the availability of paper rolls, multiple frame options, and print enlargements tailored to these standard sizes. Choosing a standard poster makes printing them cost-effective and readily accessible through online or local poster printing services.

Now, let's dive deeper into standard poster sizes and tips for creating your own poster in small, medium, and large sizes.

11" x 17" - Small Posters

woman holding an 11 x 17 inch small poster

Small posters are often 11 x 17 inches. This standard size is ideal for store windows, restaurants, bathrooms, bulletin boards, and interior displays in high-traffic areas. Known as "bulletin posters," these are the right size for event advertising, indoor notices, around lounges, waiting rooms, and bathrooms.

Their compact size allows them to fit in tight spaces without consuming much wall space, making them perfect for displaying on community bulletin boards or alongside other posters in retail stores. Small posters are placed on doors and street lights for outdoor use, which suits the 11" x 17" poster well.

When designing a small poster, it's crucial to employ large, bold fonts to ensure readability, concise copy, and visually arresting visuals. A minimalist design and simple messaging is the perfect approach to grab attention and convey your message effectively at this size.

Examples of creative uses for mini-posters include music and movie posters, advertisements, personal wall art, promoting events, smaller window advertisements, and subway posters.

18" x 24" - Medium Posters

woman holding 18 x 24 medium sized posters of the standard poster sizes

Medium posters, measuring 18 x 24 inches, are one of the most requested poster sizes. They offer slightly more space than smaller posters for larger images and minimal text. This size provides ample space for promoting events, festivals, and concerts and is perfect for retail advertisements and home decor.

These versatile standard-size posters can be used indoors or outdoors for various purposes, such as medical posters, retail ads, and in bus stop or subway displays. These posters are often used in offices, clinics, and larger bulletin boards.

When designing a medium poster, it's important to consider the proportion of text and images. This poster has a 3:4 aspect ratio, and with more space than a small poster, you have extra room for content. Here are additional tips for creating a compelling and eye-catching medium poster for your next project:

  • Strike the right balance between text, images, and white space

  • Ensure that your text and images are legible and visually appealing

  • Use a suggested minimum height of twelve points for text on a medium poster

These tips help you create a medium-sized poster that grabs attention and effectively communicates your message.

24" x 36" - Large Posters

man holding a 24 x 36 inch large format posters

The large poster dimensions are typically 24 x 36 inches and are ideal in busy areas. It is the most popular large poster and is commonly used for commercial advertising due to its size and ability to grab attention. As a go-to in high-traffic areas, this poster is perfect for trade shows and exhibits, and retail stores often print their posters in 24" x 36" poster dimensions.

This poster has a 2:3 aspect ratio, enabling abundant options if you need your poster framed. In addition, the large poster dimensions offer ample space for incorporating additional details and creativity into your poster design. With the benefit of a larger canvas, you can include intricate graphics and designs to make the poster more eye-catching.

Large-format poster printing on high-quality materials, such as polyester fabric, can ensure the longevity and vibrancy of your large-format posters, whether displayed in retail stores, outdoor venues, or advertising locations.

27" x 40" - Large Movie Posters

a 27 x 40 inch standard movie poster size

Measuring 27 x 40 inches, this large poster is the last of the most-common standard poster sizes. The 27" x 40" is often seen announcing and advertising upcoming movies. These iconic film posters are frequently seen in theaters and malls and framed as signs or billboard posters inside displays.

In addition to being the standard movie poster size, this poster is also commonly used as bus stop ads due to its ability to be seen from a distance. While framing the 27" x 40" poster might not be as straightforward or budget-friendly, it remains an excellent choice for those seeking a very large standard poster.

This movie poster provides enough space for high-resolution images, graphics, and sizable text. When designing, take advantage of the size, and incorporate vivid graphics, but use the white space properly to make it easily legible and ensure your messaging is seen.

Custom Poster Sizes

While standard poster sizes are versatile and widely used, custom poster sizes cater to specific purposes, such as concert promotions, advertising, and academic presentations. In addition to the standard sizes, posters can be printed in many other dimensions and sizes to meet your needs.

Standard Poster Sizes

Size: Inches

Size: Millimeters

Size: Centimeters

Printing Methods

Other Names

8.5 x 11 in. 215.9 x 279.4 mm. 21.59 x 27.94 cm Digital, Inkjet, Offset ANSI-A, Letter
11 x 17 in. 279.4 x 431.8 mm. 27.94 x 43.18 cm. Digital, Inkjet, Offset ANSI-B, Ledger, Tabloid
12 x 18 in. 304.8 x 457.2 mm. 30.48 x 45.72 cm. Digital, Inkjet, Offset Mini-Poster
16 x 20 in. 406.4 x 508.0 mm. 40.64 x 50.80 cm. Inkjet, Offset Portrait Pictures
18 x 24 in. 457.2 x 609.6 mm. 45.72 x 60.96 cm. Inkjet, Offset Medium Poster, Architectural C, 1/2 size
24 x 36 in. 609.6 x 914.4 mm. 60.96 x 91.44 cm. Inkjet, Offset Large Poster, Architectural D
27 x 39 in. 685.8 x 990.6 mm. 68.58 x 99.06 cm. Inkjet, Offset One Sheet Movie Poster (bulk)
27 x 40 in. 685.8 x 1016.0 mm. 68.58 x 101.60 cm. Inkjet One Sheet Movie Poster
48 x 36 in. 1219.2 x 914.4 mm. 121.92 x 91.44 cm. Inkjet Research Poster, Academic Poster
40 x 60 in. 1016.0 x 1524.0 mm. 101.60 x 152.40 cm. Inkjet Bus Stop, Subway Poster

As seen above, custom posters can range in size. Let's explore some unique custom poster applications in detail.

Concert and Band Posters

band concert poster with custom size and design

Concert and band posters come in various sizes, ranging from handbills and flyers to large posters. Handbills typically measure 8.5" x 10" or 8.5" x 5", while large flyers and small letter-sized posters used for promotional purposes outside the venue measure 8.5" x 11". These posters are designed to grab attention and effectively promote events regardless of size.

The most requested size for band posters is 11" x 17" to 24" x 36". One cost-effective large-format advertising medium for concerts and events is wheatpasting posters, frequently observed adorning walls and fences repetitively. These posters allow bands and event organizers to reach a wider audience without breaking the bank.

Academic and Research Posters

Academic and research posters typically measure 48" x 36" and are used to present research findings or academic projects in a visually appealing and informative manner. These posters balance visuals with text, providing an overview of the research project and relevant commentary regarding the discoveries made throughout the process.

Inkjet printing is the most commonly used method for printing academic posters because it produces high-quality images and text. When designing an academic or research poster, it's essential to consider the balance between text and visuals, ensuring the information is presented clearly, and easy for the viewer to consume.

Selecting the Right Paper and Printing Method

Choosing the right paper and printing method is crucial for creating long-lasting, high-quality posters. Factors to consider include the poster's appropriate weight, cost, and desired lifespan. Paper weight is measured in grams per square meter (GSM), and it is suggested that the minimum weight for poster paper should be 90 GSM or g/m2 (60 pounds). If you have a decent budget, choose a heavier paper weight (120-170 GSM). In addition to giving your poster a more luxurious feel, it will make it more durable and longer lasting.

a poster printed on acid-free paper

Let's look at two essential aspects of poster printing: using acid-free paper stock and choosing between digital and offset printing.

Acid-Free Paper

Acid-free paper has a neutral or basic pH, meaning it is devoid of sulfur and lignin, which can cause discoloration if not eliminated. Printing posters on acid-free paper prevents yellowing over time, ensuring the color of your poster remains vibrant and intact.

While acid-free paper may be slightly more expensive than standard printer paper, the investment is well worth it to preserve your poster's appearance long-term. This is especially important for posters displayed in public areas or those with sentimental value, as the colors and quality of the printed poster will remain intact for years to come.

Digital vs. Offset Printing

Digital and offset printing methods offer different advantages, depending on your poster's size and purpose. Digital printing is a more efficient and less labor-intensive process that is ideal for short-run production (smaller quantity) and when a rapid turnaround is necessary. On the other hand, offset printing provides higher-quality results and is more suitable for large-run production (larger quantity) and when a higher quality is required.

When deciding between digital and offset printing, consider factors such as the number of posters needed, the desired quality, and your budget. For small-scale projects or when time is of the essence, digital printing may be the best option. However, if you require a large number of posters or desire the highest possible quality, offset printing will be the better choice.

Design Tips for Effective Posters

The intent and goal of creating a poster is to grab attention and convey a message or information quickly. Good design accomplishes this, and effective poster design incorporates the following to do so:

  • Minimalism

  • Visual hierarchy

  • Typography

  • Contrast

By using these design elements strategically, you can ensure that your poster captures the attention of your target audience and effectively conveys your message. Let's explore these design principles in more detail.

a poster with minimalistic design and visual hierarchy

Minimalism and Visual Hierarchy

Minimalism in design emphasizes simplicity, functionality, and elegance. Using a restricted color palette, basic forms, and negative space, you can create a straightforward and practical design highlighting important elements and attracting the viewer's attention. Minimalism is particularly relevant for small and medium-sized posters, as a high concentration of text can render the poster challenging to read and ultimately ignored.

On the other hand, visual hierarchy refers to guiding the viewer's gaze through the poster using eye-catching graphics and text. You can create a clear and ordered poster that effectively conveys your message by arranging design elements to emphasize and highlight the most important information.

Typography and Contrast

Typography is the art and technique of arranging letters and text to make written language legible, readable, and aesthetically pleasing when displayed. Bold typography can be employed as a singular image on posters, creating an eye-catching focal point that draws the viewer in.

Contrast, on the other hand, can be employed to create visual interest and direct attention to certain aspects of a poster. By utilizing different colors, sizes, and font weights, you can increase the readability of your text and ensure that your poster effectively communicates its intended message.

Combining typography and contrast can create visually appealing designs that enhance your poster's aesthetics and effectiveness.

Printing Your Poster: DIY or Professional Services?

poster printed with DIY or professional services

Deciding between DIY printing and professional services depends on quality, cost, and convenience. While DIY printing can be more affordable, it may result in lower-quality posters, especially for large sizes. On the other hand, professional printing services offer higher quality and a wider range of options, ensuring your poster looks its best.

Let's weigh the pros and cons of each option.

Pros and Cons of DIY Printing

DIY printing can be cost-efficient and require less time and effort than a professional printing company. This may be an attractive option for those on a tight budget or who need a small number of posters printed quickly for their poster printing project. However, the quality of the print may not be as high as that of professional printing, which could impact your poster's overall effectiveness and appearance.

In addition, DIY printing may be limited in terms of the available printing methods and materials, which could affect the longevity and vibrancy of your poster. If you're considering DIY printing, weighing the potential savings against the potential drawbacks in terms of quality and durability is essential.

Benefits of Professional Printing Services

Professional printing services provide higher quality prints and a broader selection of options than DIY printing. They use higher-quality materials and have access to more advanced printing technology, ensuring that your poster looks its best. Professional printing services also offer various finishing options, including lamination, mounting, and framing, which can help protect your poster and make it look more professional.

In conclusion, a professional printing company can provide superior quality, a more comprehensive selection of finishing options, and printing services that include:

  • Higher quality materials

  • Access to more advanced printing technology

  • A selection of finishing options, such as lamination, mounting, and framing - to safeguard and make your poster appear more professional


Throughout this reference of standard poster sizes, we've explored the dimensions and purposes of small, medium, and large posters and specific applications for custom-size poster projects. We delved into the importance of selecting the right paper and printing method. Lastly, we shared design tips for creating compelling, easy-to-read, and eye-catching posters.

By understanding the nuances of poster sizes, design principles, and printing methods, you can confidently create captivating posters that effectively convey your message and leave a lasting impression. Now go forth and unleash your creativity, and produce a captivating poster!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 18x24 a standard poster size?

Yes, 18x24 is a standard poster size as well as the most popular medium poster size.

Is 24x36 a standard poster size?

Yes, 24x36 is a standard poster size, often used at trade shows, exhibits, and to display home decor/art.

What is the standard poster size ratio?

The most common poster size ratios are 2:3 and 4:3. Popular sizes include 18" x 24", 24" x 36" and 27" x 40".

16:9 is also used for widescreen digital posters, with 48" x 36" being the most common size for print posters.

What is the importance of acid-free paper in poster printing?

Acid-free paper is essential to poster printing as it preserves vivid colors and prevents discoloration over time, ensuring your poster remains vibrant.

What is the difference between digital and offset printing?

Digital printing is ideal for short-run production and when a rapid turnaround is necessary, while offset printing is better suited to large-run production and when a higher-quality result is desired.

Clash Graphics Print Shop Atlanta Flyer Printing

2233 Peachtree Rd NE Ste 202 AtlantaGA 30309
(678) 235-3464