How to Make Posters Look Neat

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Clean poster design delivers a message more effectively
Clean poster design delivers a message more effectively (Image: hot coffee poster image by robert mobley from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

A neat, well-put-together poster can be the difference between whether your poster message is clear or gets lost in the clutter. Making a poster for personal decor offers some leeway, but posters designed for advertising, election campaigns, student rallies, and other public display purposes should have an appealing, professional appearance and entice people to take in the message or enjoy the art of the poster. Creating a neat poster isn't difficult if you plan your design and take the time to apply the elements.

Things You'll Need

  • Poster board
  • Markers
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Paper

Sketch ideas on paper for the content of your poster. Decide what the subject of your poster is. That's the element that should stand out. All other elements should enhance the main focus. Sketching ideas out on paper before you begin designing your poster can help you streamline the process when you begin making your poster.

Avoid clutter. This is the primary cause of posters that aren't neat. If your poster is advertising a sales event, place the name of the event in the center of the poster in big, bold letters that can easily be read. Use a ruler and light pencil lines to mark the areas where your words and other elements will be so you will know the space you need to work with. Place lettering, images and other design elements on the poster within these borders to mark their location and to get a visual idea of the layout before you finalize it.

Avoid using borders. While a border may look pretty, it takes up valuable space on the poster. Beginning poster designers use borders and try to cram everything else into a smaller area. If you use a poster, draw something that's thinner on the edges and save fancy images for border corners. Better yet, draw a corners-only border, with a design or image in each corner and nothing along the sides, top and bottom.

Balance the use of images and text. Determine which is more important to the subject of your poster. If it's an image, make the image large and centered, then place any text elements around the image. Space the text elements at enough distance from your image to allow the image to stand on its own.

Draw top and bottom lines on your poster board to mark where your letters will go. You will need a top line and base line for your letters. A light line in pencil allows you to begin and end all of your letters at the same location. Draw separate top and bottom base lines for lowercase and capital letters, which will help ensure consistency in letter size throughout. Before drawing on your poster, draw a test line on the side of the poster you won't be working on and erase it to be sure the lines you draw for guides can be easily erased.

Stand up and lean over your poster as you work. Your view of the poster as you create it should be the same view as anyone looking at the poster will be. Working at an angle changes your perspective and will affect the way you place lines and lettering on your poster.

Maintain consistency. Avoid mixing several lettering styles that contradict one another. If your lettering is Gothic, mixing a block letter style with shadows won't be appealing to the eye. This can cause a poster design to look sloppy.

Focus your information. You don't want to cram too much onto one poster. If you are doing a poster for a store ad, you want the name of the store centered and large. Pick a few items for sale at the store and place them on the poster in smaller lettering, distributed around the name of the store. Leave room for the store's contact information or a map to the store's location. This can be placed near the bottom of the poster.

Tips & Warnings

  • Work on a large table or any other area that gives you plenty of uncluttered room. Spread your supplies out so they don't get in your way. Be sure you have plenty of bright light.

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