Designing posters can seem like a daunting task. Especially if you are running a small business or brand by yourself. And to bring more complication to the matter, there is no true standard poster size out there. While many producers adhere to some norms to keep poster printing as standardized as possible around the world, poster sizes are not regulated.
Don’t be discouraged just yet! This guide is here to help. We're going to discuss the most common poster sizes. We’re also going to throw in some extras, like some basic design principles and how to choose the right paper for your project. Let’s begin.
A-type Paper;Size in inches;Size in millimeters
A0;33-1/8 x 46-13/16;841 x 1188
A1;23-3/8 x 33-1/8 ;594 x 841
A2;16-1/2 x 23-3/8 ;420 x 594
A3;11-3/4 x 16-1/2 ;297 x 420
A4;8-1/4 x 11-3/4 ;210 x 297
A5;5-7/8 x 8-1/4 ;148 x 210
A6;4-1/8 x 5-7/8 ;105 x 148
A7;2-15/16 x 4-1/8 ;74 x 105
A8;2-1/16 x 2-15/16 ;52 x 74
A9;1.5 x 2.0 ;37 x 52
A10;1.0 x 1.5 ;26 x 37
Metric paper size guide
Since most printers usually translate industry-standard sizes using the metric system, this is a good place to start.
Metric paper sizes are guided by an international standard of paper (known in the biz’ as ISO 216) which classifies paper into two series - A and B. A is the most common out of these two.
If you live in Canada, the USA, Mexico, or the Dominican Republic, print shops will not use this exact naming convention, but they will use the same sizes.
The best part about metric paper sizes is the fact that they're designed to have the same exact aspect ratio. So let’s say you have the largest size, A0. If you fold this size in half widthways, then you get A1. Fold this one in half again, you have A2, and so on.
This is the beauty of this system. It’s logical. Below are all A-type paper sizes. Note that only some conform to standard poster sizes.
Typical Poster Dimensions
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to poster dimensions. But generally speaking, most printing companies or sign holders accommodate to some standards.
These are the four most common poster sizes:
- Small Poster Size: A3 / 28 x 43 cm / 11 x 17 inches
- Medium Poster Size: ~ A2 / 46 x 61 cm / 18 x 24 inches
- Large Poster Size: Architectural D / 61 x 91 cm / 24 x 36
- Movie Poster Size: either 68.6 x 101.6 cm / 27 x 40 inches or 101.6 x 152.4 cm / 40 x 60 inches
Poster sizing will largely depend on the purpose your poster is going to serve and where you want to display it. So let’s have a closer look at all these dimensions.
Small Poster Size: 28 x 43 cm / 11 x 17 inches
The smallest common poster size is the A3 format. It’s twice the size of a piece of printer paper (aka A4). But outside the metric system, it’s also called the Ledger (when the long side is horizontal), or Tabloid (when the short side is horizontal) and adheres to the international sizing standard ANSI B.
They command the attention you need without requiring too much space. The best of both worlds. That is why this poster size is just right for indoor displays, especially in areas where people meet like cafeterias, lounges, or waiting rooms. They are best placed at eye level so keep that in mind when you’re plastering them around.
This poster size is great if you are designing your poster yourself for your small brand or business, as it’s compatible with most home and office printers.
A poster with these dimensions looks great with eye-catching typography, minimalist illustration, and a simple yet powerful color palette. Also, try experimenting with negative space.
Medium Posters: 46 x 61 cm / 18 x 24 inches
Next up is the medium poster. It’s slightly larger than the A2 format, yet a bit smaller and wider than the standard movie posters you find in theatres. We know it sounds confusing, but bear with us.
18 x 24 inches is also known as the Architectural C dimension, which is the US standard for architectural paper. Why? It’s the best size for displaying blueprints and maps.
This size is great for small-scale or independent movie poster printing. It's great for both indoor or outdoor advertising, and they look excellent in shop windows, retail stores, behind a reception desk, public bulletin boards, construction walkways, around university campuses, or even decorating the walls of your home.
When designing this poster, you have quite a lot of freedom when combining photography, immersive graphics, bold fonts, and a few lines of text.
Large Poster: 61 x 91 cm / 24 x 36 inches
Also called Architectural D Size, this is the most common poster size. You see them basically everywhere. If you go into a store that specifically sells posters, chances are that most of their stock will be this size.
Framing them is also a breeze. You’ll easily find a frame for a poster this size; even Ikea carries a few variations.
If you want to attract attention, this is your ticket. Large format posters are the typical size music artists or entertainment companies use to promote their shows. They’re also great for malls, trade shows, festivals, or any event with high traffic.
Being this large, you have complete freedom when designing. Add photos in there, or some illustrations, bold text, minimal text, sentences, details, or other intricacies.
Movie Poster Sizes
This is not your usual poster size - not many shops and businesses will display or use them. But in the US, there are 2 sizes that have been standardized by the film industry:
- One Sheet Poster - 27" x 40" Inches / 686x1016mm.
These are the official movie posters distributed in theaters. They're typically displayed in portrait format.
- Bus Stop or Subway Poster - are 40" x 60" / 1016mm x 1524mm.
This is the standard movie poster size when advertising in bus or subway stops. Its aspect ratio is exactly 2:3.
If you are designing a poster of your own, you can’t go wrong with the dimensions we described above. They are used by printing companies all over the world. But also don't be afraid to experiment and work with your own custom sizes. Posters are printed on rolls of paper (not on sheets) so they can be cut in any dimension you want. Just talk to your printing shop to see what sort of custom poster you can create.
Poster Paper Weight
Again, there are no rules here either. The poster world feels so rock'n'roll, doesn't it?
The paper you choose depends on many factors, including the capabilities of your printing company. But of course, you have to consider personal preference, pricing, the location of your poster, and the longevity of your campaign.
Paper weight is measured in grams per square meter or gsm. This unit of measurement is determined by the weight of a piece of paper that is 1 by 1 meter in size. While heavier papers are thicker, do not confuse gsm with thickness or stiffness.
Here are the most common gsm’s:
- 90-120 gsm. This is the most common for printer paper. It’s uncoated; making it perfect for writing but not ideal for posters. While it’s cheap, your poster will not stand out nor survive too long outdoors.
- 120-170 gsm: Slightly thicker, and a common choice for posters. Looks and feels good despite the low cost.
- 200-300 gsm: Feels like thick - sturdy paper, and can be matte or glossy. Not the most common choice for posters, but it’s a good choice if you want your posters not to roll or fold. Hence, it’s more ideal for smaller poster sizes.
- 300-400 gsm: This one is very close to card stock. Not really used for posters, but more suited for business cards.
Has this been a master class in poster making, or what? We hope all this information will get you started with your next poster design project.
Speaking of getting started, there’s no better kickoff than using a precise template to set you off on your creative journey! Vectornator offers all these templates as soon you open the app.
And when you’re done, you can visualize your work with our AR Preview. You can virtually place your poster on a wall and check if all details fit the way you envisioned.