The Most Common Poster Sizes

Nowadays the poster is widely used for different purposes all over the world. Embraced by the mass media, the poster serves for promotion and is the most popular way of advertising. Along with the image and text of the poster, its size (format) is very important as well. The right size of the poster adds to its efficiency and effectiveness. It depends on the printed material, the image and colours used in design, the text (size and quantity of letters), the poster's placement and its ultimate goal.

Actually, no strict definition is available for a standard poster size. Several sizes are considered to be standard and mostly used for posters varying according to their content and message.

The smallest poster flyers are 8,5x11" (like with legal paper). They can be used for adds or announcements in space limited areas: comfort rooms, info desks, street posts, and bulletin boards. School or office circulars are usually printed in this size.

Next come 11x17" posters for advertisements and announcements. We usually see them on phone booths, community boards and street posts. You can use a 11x17" poster for advertising a small business like lemonade stands, garage sales, or selling of baked goodies. The less text a 11x17" poster uses, the better.

Tip: Poster Printer - software to print multipage posters, banners and signs

Medium posters come in 18x24" and 19x27" sizes, which are standard indoor formats and best choices for your room. Use them if you have a favourite photo or a picture that you would like to turn into a poster. These are often effectively used with large graphics and one headline message. But you can also place some text below the main heading. Medium poster sizes are commonly used for printing celebrities photos (sports icons, music bands, actors), for family and friends collages with family photos. You can see medium format posters in malls and shops. In fact, they can be used in any point where passers-by will see them.

Large poster sizes are 24x36" and 27x39", best for outdoor advertising. Marketers choose them for services and products promotion using large type sizes for a straight to the point message and eye-catching graphics

attracting people on their way. Large-sized posters are perfect for grabbing people's attention. They can be also placed indoors in heavily populated areas like theaters, coffee shops, book shops, trade shows.

The movie industry became one of the first to use posters. In the days of William Shakespeare, hand drawn posters put up all about the town enticed people to see the latest Shakespeare's play. The entertainment industry keeps on using posters, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The most common and collectible American movie poster size is one-sheet, which is approximately 27x41"(latest posters are often 27 x 40", or even smaller). This is the standard movie poster size, widely used to announce or advertise an upcoming movie. Paper printed, one-sheet posters come in rolls. They are often placed in high traffic areas including bus stops, phone booths, theaters, and malls.

Popular with collectors due to smaller size, insert format movie posters are 14x36". Insert was one of the earliest movie poster sizes and now is rather rare: portrait format, comes in rolls, on thicker paper. Insert posters were quite popular until studios stopped making them in the early 1980's.

Just like the insert, the half-sheet album format (28x22") was first introduced in the 1910's and discontinued in the mid 1980's. Posters in this size are used for special sized displays and remain popular vintage products.

Compared to one-sheet, 30x40" and 40x60" are extremely rare now. Portrait-format posters in these sizes are printed on heavy card stock material. Mostly they featured the same design as their one sheet alternatives and were displayed both inside and outside of cimenas presenting most popalar premiers. Both sizes are no longer in use now.

An extremely popular and a very rare album format movie poster (about 41x54" or 45x60") is known as two-sheet, or a subway, because it was used for subway advertising. Subways are printed on thicker paper compared to one-sheets, so they are more durable. Although posters in this size are somewhat large and cumbersome, they are popular with collectors and highly demanded being extremely rare.

Three-sheet posters (41x81", portrait format) are very large, rare and demanded. Originally designed for small billboards, they were mainly issued folded due to their formatt. Production of three-sheet posters stopped back in the late 1970's.

Six-sheet posters (81x81") are extremely rare nowadays. Very large and cumbersome, they were usually printed on thick paper and used for small billboards. They were usually produced in two or more overlapping sections assembled together for display.

Twenty-four sheet posters (9 ft. x 20 ft.) for billboard advertising are rarely used today. They are produced in 12 or more overlapping sections and are almost always folded.

Bus shelter posters (45x70") are used in glass-enclosed corner bus stop shelters. Printed on coated card stock or vinyl-like paper, they are eye-catching and colourful. Movie studios still use these " mostly double-sided and coming in series.

One of the oldest forms of movie poster art is a lobby card (usually 11x14"). They were first introduced in the 1910s in theatre lobbies. Lobby cards are no longer used in theaters and are rarely printed for movies. But they still are very popular with collectors today.

Window cards (14x22") were typically used by local cinemas for advertising movies in window displays of stores. Often, they had a blank area at the top for a venue and play dates. Window cards are no longer used.

Poster size does matter. And choosing the right one is a huge step on the way to success.