Know the difference between an eye-catching, action-inspiring poster, and just another piece of paper you’ll pass by? The poster layout!
So long as they’re designed and laid out with intention, posters offer a tried and true way to draw attention to sales, events, fundraisers and more. That said, it’s not always easy to know how to do that on your own.
So today, I’ll be discussing some general layout formats and how you can choose a poster layout that engages and motivates, depending on your goals. I’ll also share some poster design and content tips, along with poster layout templates you can personalize pronto, using Venngage’s Poster Maker.
Click to jump ahead
- What is the poster layout?
- Poster layout examples and poster templates
- 6 tips to consider when choosing a poster layout
- How to make a poster in Venngage?
- Poster layout FAQ
What is the poster layout?
The poster layout refers to the look, feel and organization of elements in your poster.
This encompasses the poster’s design elements and visual qualities — such as the color palette, font choices, design style, contrast and use of white space — as well as how information is laid out on the page.
Take this event poster for example:
You can see how each design element — the headline and accompanying text organized within a single vertical column, the bold, saturated image as the poster background and the interplay between colors — are composed with a purpose.
Plus, these stylistic choices are not just a creative exercise in poster design, nor are they simply eye-catching to look at. They actually reinforce the design principle of visual hierarchy, capturing and funnelling attention down the page towards a desired action. (In this case, registering online.)
That’s right. With the right poster layout, your content won’t just be visually appealing — your message will be strengthened to boot.
Given you have an entire canvas to work with, you have a lot of freedom to make poster layout choices. But don’t let that intimidate you! After discussing general poster layout categories and accompanying advice, I’ll give six key considerations that’ll help you make the perfect choice — no matter if you’re in need of an event, sales medical, scientific or human resources poster.
Related: 55+ Creative Poster Ideas, Templates & Design Tips
Poster layout examples and poster templates
There are a variety of poster layouts out there — and even more terms used to describe them. For now, we’ll take a look at some of the most common types you’ll come across.
Note that you can use any of these templates and customize them to suit your own needs (read more on this here).
One column poster layout
A poster layout that organizes information within a single column is perhaps the most widely used layout around. These designs stack all the information within one vertical column, simplifying the reading experience by streamlining it into one continuous flow from top to bottom — just like how we scan a page.
Here’s an example of an event poster with a single column design:
The bold, fiery background graphic and corresponding yellow text grab awareness from the get-go. Then, by placing all the promo details within a single column, interested readers’ sight lines are naturally drawn down towards to the event details.
Translation: you can be sure viewers see all the information they need to be convinced to attend the event. Same goes for the example below, sourced from our customizable poster templates.
This nonprofit poster utilizes the single column layout to organize all the particulars — the headline, the body text and icons illustrating the benefits of participating — in succession. This makes it easy for attendees to know exactly what to expect.
It follows that posters with a singular, defined goal or CTA in mind are best for this style of layout.
Even without impressive images or icons, single column posters can spark interest.
Design tip: Choose bold fonts and font sizes to make the most out of a minimalistic approach.
Now I know we’ve looked primarily at event poster designs so far. (What can I say, I love going to things). But the same logic applies for any clear message or directive.
Think: sale signs, public service announcements (PSAs) or even a scientific poster, like this one from our free customizable poster templates below.
Process posters outlining a clear chain events can benefit from this kind of layout too:
The bottom line is: so long as you have a clear, focused, uncomplicated message, a single column layout serves you well.
Two column poster layout
Sometimes it takes two to drive your point home. By that I mean, poster layouts featuring two columns of content.
These kinds of designs utilize two distinct zones to distribute information within a single page, like so:
I know what you’re thinking: is this writer really back at it again with the event posters? Why not just use a single column design, if there’s a single CTA?
The key difference here is that this event requires more explanation — e.g. additional details around who the featured speakers are — to entice. Point being: if you need more textual components to explain a concept or or persuade viewers, a two column design might do the trick.
Double column layouts are also a great option for information-rich content, such as infographic posters — i.e. posters focused primarily on telling a story, or explaining a process, through text, visuals and/or data.
Since this division lays out the information within distinct, separate blocks, it’s easier to highlight different kinds of information effectively.
For example, this medical poster provides a definition, a visual illustration, an explanation of the six common types and a call-out for American Heart Month on a single page. Were this a single column design, a microscopic font size would be necessary.
Design tip: choose one (max two) accent color(s) to break up your sections while adding visual interest.
Research or scientific posters are another great candidate for two column posters.
This template uses icons and a double column to 1) Add visual interest, and 2) Break up otherwise-dry study results. If you’ve read many —or any — studies in your life, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Lastly, these layouts are effective if you just want to create a focal point with your text by placing it in the center. By doing so, you’ll let your graphic background shine through.
This example is one of my personal favorites. With a groovy gradient like this, who wouldn’t want to come to this art show?
Related: 12 Types of Posters for Every Business Need [Templates Included]
Multi column or hybrid layout
Of course, the buck doesn’t stop there. Meaning, people may opt to create a multi column, or hybrid, layout for their poster too.
These kinds of layouts are effective if you:
- Have a ton of information to cover
- Want to assign the same importance to distinct components
- Need to consolidate several call-to-actions
- Are looking to add visual icons to several distinct sections.
A multi column design, shown in this telemedicine poster template, uses three or more distinct columns.
If this was a paragraph of text, this information would be all too easy to ignore. But with its bright and relevant colors, headers and intuitive, bite-sized design elements organized into three columns of equally important steps, it’s much easier to absorb.
Design tip: use icons to represent each step in a process, add visual interest and break up the text.
Have even more text you’re looking to include? Check out this triple horizontal column poster template for inspo:
Here, readers can view the definition of the different solution types, as well as an example of each. The design achieves this by varying the value (or opacity) of the navy horizontal text blocks.
Design tip: use subtle value changes to create defined sections for a clean horizontal layout.
A hybrid poster design, on the other hand, borrows elements from single, double, or multi column designs to add more information to the mix.
Check out this infographic poster to see what I mean:
Notice how the layout switches from a single, to a double, to a triple column design. This layout means you’re able to pack a ton of different information on a topic into one page, and adds illustrations to drive it all home.
TLDR: one scan of this hybrid poster, and you have a complete overview of oral hygiene.
6 tips to consider when choosing a poster layout
Take a moment to go through these six tips before starting your design process. They’ll help you narrow down exactly what you need to include and guide you towards an ideal layout.
Let your target audience and outcomes guide you
Before you begin the design process, it’s essential to have a clear idea of 1) who you’re talking to, and 2) what your goal is. Approaching your poster with this in mind will help you know what to include, and how to include it.
Let me explain: if the goal of your poster is to get people to attend a conference, then your poster should be designed strategically to help you achieve this. Meaning, you’ll want to include location details, the title of the conference, and a call-to-action at a minimum.
But, depending on what kind of conference it is — and what your target audience needs to know to be convinced — you’ll get an idea of any more information that should grace the page.
Take this marketing poster for example:
Of course, the main goal here is to have your target audience (marketers) attend. But the subject, location details and a highlighted CTA is likely not enough to draw a crowd on its own…
Since conferences use their speaker panel as a selling point, the poster design is smart to highlight this key information for potential attendees. Not only that, but since growth marketing can encompass a wide variety of sub-topics, you’d do well to include some qualifying information too. (In this case, the future of growth for Software as a Service companies.)
Knowing these facts from the start will help you understand that a two column layout is the right choice. That way, you can deliver all of the above and keep the design clean, polished and professional.
Now, compare that poster layout to this student conference poster template.
Considering the goal is to have the target audience (students) attend a conference for active dialogue and feedback, the message should be precise, direct and include some element of emotional appeal as to why one would join conversation. A single column layout, with a bold title and explanatory icons, achieves this.
Make a priority list of information to include
After pinpointing your goals and audience, the next step is to assign a level of relative importance, or significance, to each component. This is your key to establishing a clear visual hierarchy, and arranging and sizing your design elements to follow suit.
For instance, think of what’s important to know for a post-graduate career expo.
Since this poster template targets post-grad students looking to land a career, the most important aspect is to alert viewers that it’s happening in the first place.
By order of importance, we can say the following information is needed:
- The event title
- Date, time and location
- Where to find more details
A single column layout featuring a bold title and large font size, — complemented by a graphic of the target audience — conveys this information effectively. Afterwards, the eye is funneled down the page to follow up with relevant details.
Add visual interest with icons
It’s a fact that visuals engage people more than text. That’s why including icons in your design is a great call, since they communicate meaning through graphics.
Take this community picnic poster template for example:
Rather than crowd the design by offering a list of what attendees can expect, the bold iconography immediately attract attention while still relaying this info.
Same goes for the PSA infographic poster below. You can see how each icon reinforces the signs outlined.
Icons also cut down the amount of words needed to get your message across. This is especially important when posters could be text-heavy (read: boring) otherwise.
In this social cause event poster template, the icons stand in for concepts that would require a lengthy explanation via text.
Just remember to pick icons with a consistent style — i.e. line thickness, flat or illustrated, line art or filled — and allow for plenty of whitespace to let your design breathe.
Be conscious of your color scheme
Your color palette does a lot more than just offer creative liberties. In fact, it’s key for engaging viewers and making your choice of layout shine.
For instance, this poster utilizes a two-tone palette with high contrast to effortlessly attract eyeballs.
This helps the graphic elements immediately standout against the powder blue background, drawing eyes to the text.
Another thing to consider is how your color palette can speed up the time it takes for the audience to form a connection to what they’re seeing.
One quick glance at this poster tells you all you need to know about this event, since it utilizes colors found in the Ukraine flag. Then, the single column layout emphasizes this connection by allowing plenty of “white space” — or in this case, yellow-and-blue space — to shine through.
Lastly, if its a branded event, you’ll want to abide by your company’s branding guidelines. Venngage’s My Brand Kit feature makes that easy, since you can keep things consistent by automating the colors with one click.
Simplify the process with a pre-made poster template
Look, I get it. Even with all these tips on hand, the thought of designing a poster from scratch can still be pretty intimidating. That’s why a poster template will give you a solid foundation to create your own design!
Keep reading to learn how…
How do you make a good poster layout?
Not a poster-making expert with pre-existing graphic design skills? No problem!
Creating a stunning poster layout is easy when there’s hundreds of professionally-designed, easy-to-edit templates that act as your starting point. From academic posters and event posters to infographic posters and more, you’ll be able to produce an eye catching design that suits your needs with Venngage’s templates and online Poster Maker.
- Start by picking from our library of professionally designed poster templates. To do so, look for premium or free poster templates that reflects the theme, goals and the layout you’re looking for.
- Sign-up for a free Venngage account.
- Now it’s time to make your own custom poster! Start customizing by swapping in your desired poster copy, images, icons and colors to make it your own. For graphic content, select from our library of free and premium images or upload your own photos from a file. Be sure to check out our diverse library of icons too.
Looking to keep your branding consistent? Automate your brand colors and logo with our brand kit tool, My Brand Kit.
- Once you’re happy with your own poster design, you’re welcome to share the link publicly for free. Otherwise, you can upgrade to a paid plan to download your custom poster template. (With a Business Plan specifically, you’ll get access to premium templates and features — like real-time Team Collaboration, and automated branding via My Brand Kit.)
Note: Downloading your poster as a PNG should be fine for exporting to emails or social media directly. But if you want to print out your poster, download it as a PNG HD.
You can also add bleed marks to your design by selecting the option under Settings. This guarantees your poster will be perfect once its back from the printer.
Poster layout FAQ
What are the components of a poster layout?
The poster layout includes design and organizational choices such as the title, graphic(s), text, white space, flow of information, style of graphic elements, and color palette.
What are the qualities of a good poster?
A good poster has the following qualities:
An effective poster size The best size of poster to use will depend on where the poster is being placed in relation to viewers. For instance, the standard size of printer paper (8.5 × 11 inches) will suffice if people can walk right up to it. However, a larger format may be needed if the audience is further away.
An eye-catching title or slogan The most successful posters feature a descriptive title or intriguing slogan — e.g. an explanation, question or appeal to emotion.
Smart use of whitespace Avoid overwhelming viewers and give your design elements room to breathe by making sure there’s enough whitespace used to break up the poster’s components
Consistency in design The graphic and text elements you include should be consistent if you want your design to look polished. Don’t use more than three fonts in one poster, and choose icons and images with a consistent style. If you’re struggling to find exactly the same colored photos, use filters to make things more uniform.
Appealing color palette To ensure your hue selection only embolden your message, be sure to apply the tenants of color theory and pychology to your design.
Overall contrast Strong contrasts in colors and values are the most striking posters to look at.
Focused content Simplicity in poster design tends to win out. Use these tips to decide which information is necessary to include if you want to persuade without going overboard.
How can I design a poster?
While you can technically use any design software of your choosing, the easiest way to design a poster is to begin with a template. For more information, check out this section.
Compel your audience to action with an enticing poster layout
Well, that about covers it! With these poster layout templates and tips, you’ll be able to motivate your viewers at a glance. I hope you’re feeling like a bonafide professional now — no prior design skills needed.
And remember: you don’t have to start from scratch! This is your sign to make the most out of your design time with Venngage’s extensive library of polished poster templates. That way, you can worry less about configuring a layout, and start personalizing your creation faster than you can hit ‘print’.