poster for opening sign

Guide to standard poster sizes: The best dimensions for your poster project

Reading time: 6 minutes

Standard poster sizes are much more than just numbers and measurements. Like all design considerations, dimensions are chosen for a purpose and each poster size is particularly relevant for different uses, contexts and audiences.

Understanding the typical scenarios for poster sizes is helpful when deciding which dimensions your poster should be. The common contexts for each poster size can simplify the technical measurement and make it easy to visualize the poster in action. In this guide, we’ll break down eight common poster sizes and provide ideas for using each one. Once you’ve got this down, get started on your custom poster design.

The 8 standard poster sizes

Poster sizes infographic

A4 letter poster size — 8.3” x 11.3”

The letter poster size has the same dimensions as standard paper used in home or office printers. Commonly found stapled to telephone poles or bulletin boards, this highly portable poster size can also be used for flyer handouts and is ideal for bulk printing. Because it needs to be viewed up close, this size works best for text-heavy, informational poster designs.

Poster design for a theater performance

Source: Theater performance poster design by Razvan Postolache via 99designs by Vista

A3 ledger poster size — 11.7” x 16.5”

Sometimes referred to as ledger or tabloid size, A3 posters are often used for window ads, store signage and community notice boards. While similar to letter paper in terms of scale and purpose, this slightly larger size gives a more professional look to a bulletin board poster by marking a clear distinction from printer paper.

Poster design for a tennis tournament

Source: Tennis tournament poster design by vkino via 99designs by Vista

A2 small poster size — 16.5” x 23.4”

The small poster size is nearly twice the scale of standard letter paper but still ideal for indoor display purposes. Roomy enough to accommodate large headlines, but also small enough for tile displays (hanging multiple posters in a creative grid), this size is ideal for sales promotions on store walls to minimalist art prints with high-resolution images.

Travel poster design for Lisbon

Source: Travel poster design by Niza! via 99designs by Vista

B2 medium poster size — 19.78” x 27.84”

The medium poster size can comfortably mix big images and headlines, placing it on the border between up-close and faraway viewing. Because it balances ample canvas space with portability, this is a popular poster size for event merchandise—festivals, exhibitions and concerts—where buyers want something they can easily carry around. With a nearly square appearance, this poster size particularly suits symmetrical designs.

Poster design for a group therapy conference

Source: Poster design by – Anastasia – via 99designs by Vista

Half sheet poster size — 22” x 28”

22” x 28” is the standard size for half sheets, a classic type of movie poster intended for close-up displays in theater lobbies. Although they are less commonly used for that purpose these days, this poster size is still most often displayed in landscape orientation, making it perfect for longer lines of text and wide images.

landscape poster for menu of Taiwanese coffee brand

Source: Landscape poster design by soli.nonics via 99designs by Vista

A1 large poster size — 23.4” x 33.1”

A1 is a highly versatile poster size, popular for both outdoor advertising and indoor decoration. For commercial purposes, the large poster commands attention in busy areas, such as shopping centers and storefronts. What it’s not so great at is displaying text-only content (unless you’re working with a skilled typographer). While singular photographs are also less feasible to print at this scale, collaged images don’t require as high of a resolution.

Poster design for a video contest

Source: Poster design by galschjodt via 99designs by Vista

B1 film poster size — 27.8” x 39.440”

This is the standard size for movie posters. Used for outdoor promotions at festivals and in front of theaters, these designs typically incorporate a large focal image and headline, alongside minor credits. This size can also make a great choice for any poster telling a story with creative imagery.

Film poster design

Source: Film poster design by GemmyVN via 99designs by Vista

Academic poster size — 36” x 48”

The academic or research poster size is traditionally used as a visual aid for presentations. Standing at over half the average height of a person, this poster provides a large canvas for complex visuals and text, such as infographics. It can also incorporate long stretches of text that will not fit on other poster sizes, such as workplace policies meant to be read up close. For advertising, this poster size supports extreme faraway viewing, like stadium posters.

Poster design for a marketing campaign

Source: Poster design by glimmm via 99designs by Vista

How to choose a poster size

To choose the best size for your poster project, there are four main factors you have to consider: budget, design content, the purpose of the poster and available hanging space.

Budget

Larger sizes are going to be more expensive to print than smaller sizes. At VistaPrint, prices range from $3.99 for an 8.5” x 11” poster to $49.99 for a 36” x 48” poster. Although higher quantities will increase expenses, an online printing service like VistaPrint heavily discounts bulk printing.

Design content

The amount and scale of the poster’s content will influence the size, which is why it’s helpful to create a list of the specific text and images required. Although larger posters are more likely to attract attention, excessive blank space will negatively impact the design. Similarly, a small poster design will not work if its content is crowded. If your poster contains raster imagery like photographs, your poster size should match the image resolution.

Poster design for a fundraising event

Source: Poster design by Skilline via 99designs by Vista

Purpose

Consider the context of where your poster will be displayed and how viewers will interact with it. If there is a good deal of text they will need to read up close, a smaller poster with simple images that draw attention without stealing the show might be a better fit. If the content includes more complex imagery and creative headlines, a larger poster can make a statement while commanding attention from across the street.

Physical hanging space

Any poster size you choose will ultimately be confined to a physical hanging space. If you already know where you will hang your poster, make sure to measure the maximum space available. If you don’t yet know exactly where your poster(s) will hang, it’s best to play it safe with a slightly smaller size than predicted. For more on this, read our step-by-step guide on how to hang a poster.

Poster design for a networking event

Source: Poster design by A&V via 99designs by Vista

Print requirements and poster size

Beyond the standard poster sizes, there are additional margins to consider when preparing your design file for print. All print files require crop marks, including a bleed margin, which is at least 0.125 inches beyond the dimensions of the poster design. For example, this means that an 8.5” x 11” poster should be designed at 8.625” x 11.125” for full bleed. Designers must then make sure all background graphics and colors extend to the edge of the bleed.

Poster size can also impact print resolution. 300 PPI is the standard resolution for printing (and is also the minimum resolution that VistaPrint requires for uploaded print files). However, large poster sizes that are meant to be viewed at a distance can sometimes get away with lower resolutions, such as 150 PPI, which can help save money on print costs.

Choose poster dimensions suited to your project

Poster size can make a huge difference in how the content comes across. It influences not only the physical canvas space but also the perception of its function, whether a flyer or a large-scale art piece. While it can be tempting to go for the most attention-grabbing size, consider what makes the most sense for your poster’s design, content and audience.