There is no true standard poster size. While many paper producers adhere to international norms to keep printing standardized around the world, poster sizes are not regulated. This lack of standardization can sometimes lead to questions from people looking design and print posters with the correct dimensions. Many people want to know, is there a normal poster size? How big should a poster be?
You have many options for poster sizes. To make things easy, we recommend picking one of of a few standardized paper sizes that are commonly used in industries worldwide. Picking a commonly used and standardized paper size will help cut out a lot of the guesswork involved in planning for your poster dimensions and give you the most options for choosing the paper weight or material you like best.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that, while we discuss common poster sizes in relation to international paper size standards here, there is no single standard poster size that is universally used. There are standardized sizes that work well for posters, but “poster size” is simply not a term with a standardized meaning. When designing a poster, always double check with your printing company or paper supplier to find out exactly which poster paper sizes they have available, and always make sure you know exactly how and where your poster will be displayed.
Common Poster Sizes
Small: 11×17 Poster Size
11×17 inches is generally the smallest poster size. Anything smaller won’t look like a poster, but instead like a piece of A4 printer paper tacked up on a wall.
11×17 posters are just the right size for indoor notices and event advertisements. They command more attention and look more official than A4-sized flyers but don’t require too much wall space. 11×17 posters are perfect for indoor display in areas where people often congregate, like in lounges, waiting rooms, bathrooms, or near water coolers. 11×17 posters are best placed at eye-level on a wall where people will generally be within a five-foot distance of.
A poster with the dimensions 11×17 inches looks best when printed with designs that use bold typography, simple illustrations, a limited color palette, and lots of negative space. The aspect ratio of 11×17 posters is also similar to the typical movie poster aspect ratio (just short of 2:3), so these poster dimensions can work quite well if you’d like a miniature poster of your favorite film hanging over your desk.
11×17 inches (279×432 mm) is also known as tabloid (when the short side is horizontal) or ledger paper (when the long side is horizontal), and adheres to the international sizing standard ANSI B. This is good news if you plan to print your small-sized poster yourself. This size of paper is widely available and is compatible with many home and office printers. An 11×17 poster is also convenient if you need to mail your poster without rolling or folding it: you can find ANSI B envelopes at most post offices, and carriers have standard rates for mailing envelopes with these dimensions.
Medium: 18×24 Poster Size
18×24 inches makes for a medium-sized poster that can be displayed both indoors and outdoors. 18×24 is an appropriate and normal poster size for just about any project because it can be appreciated both close up and from a distance. This is also a regular poster size for framing, so you have many display options for 18×24 posters.
18×24 posters look best when displayed on a wall where people will generally be between one and five yards of. For decorative purposes, this average poster size looks great hung behind a reception desk, lining hallways, or in your home. As an advertisement, 18×24 posters are great for public bulletin boards, in-store promotions, college and university campuses, and construction walkways.
18×24 inches is smaller and wider than the standard movie poster size you will find in big box theaters, but it is still a good size for small-scale movie poster printing. Because these poster dimensions are excellent for combining photography and immersive graphics with a few lines of bold text, 18×24 movie posters may work well for advertisements for special screenings or other independently organized film events. Just keep in mind that the aspect ratio for medium posters is 3:4, where official movie posters are designed with an aspect ratio closer to 2:3.
18×24 inches (457×610 mm) is also known as Arch C dimensions, which is a US-standard for architectural paper. Unsurprisingly, these dimensions are excellent for framing and displaying blue prints and maps. If you need to mail an 18×24 poster, the most cost-efficient way is to roll it into a tube.
Large: 24×36 Poster Size
24×36 inches are the dimensions in which large format posters are most often printed. If you were to go into a store that specifically sold posters, chances are a large portion of their inventory would be 24×36 posters. You will find many options for framing posters that measure 24×36, and with an aspect ratio of 2:3, many images (including movie posters) fit nicely at these dimensions.
24×36 posters are the classic choice for posters that need to stand out in a crowd. For busy malls, side walk advertisements, trade shows, festivals, and other locations with high foot traffic, this is a standard poster size that can be seen from a distance. Depending on the design, they are large enough to be legible from up to ten yards away. 24×36 posters look best when the center point of the poster is at eye-level.
This large poster size works with just about any graphic: photos, illustrations, bold text, minimal designs, intricate designs. A design scheme that works well for the large poster size is to attract attention from afar with the main message printed in very large and bold text, but to also include much smaller informative text which draws people closer.
24×36 inches (609.6 x 914.4 mm) is also known as Architectural D sized paper, which is another standardized paper size. If you need to mail an 24×36 poster, the most cost-efficient way is to roll it into a tube.
Standard Movie Poster Sizes
While poster sizes in general are not regulated, the film industry in the USA does have standard movie poster sizes for official advertisements within movie theaters and at bus stops. Standardized movie poster dimensions are as follows:
- 27×40 inches (686×1016 mm) – also known as One-Sheet size, these are the dimensions most commonly used for official movie posters distributed to theaters. The aspect ratio of movie theater poster size is a bit more than 2:3, or a width 67.5% of the height.
- 40×60 inches (1016×1524 mm) – is the standard movie poster size for advertising at bus stops and subway stops. The aspect ratio of this extra large movie poster size is exactly 2:3.
These are the only two movie poster sizes used by film studios for official advertising purposes. Any movie poster measuring smaller or larger was likely created after the fact, like if a poster company bought the rights to the image to sell in its retail stores.
How big are movie posters you can buy in stores or online?
If you buy a movie poster from a retailer, it will not be in the standard movie poster size of 27×40 inches. Rather, mass-market movie poster printing for retail generally uses Architectural D paper. The means the average movie poster size that you’ll see hanging in dorm rooms is 24×36 inches.
If you are trying to get your hands on a vintage poster printed at the time of the film’s big screen debut, check the movie poster dimensions as one way to verify its authenticity.
Are there other poster sizes? Or do I have to pick from common poster sizes?
While the poster size dimensions listed above provide a good guideline for anyone designing a poster because they use paper sizes that are standard worldwide, you do not have to design a poster that fits these measurements.
In many cases, large-format printers use rolls of paper rather than single sheets. This means that your poster can be designed for and cut to any size you like. Just discuss your needs with your printer, and they will advise you!
As we already mentioned, there is no universal standard for the dimensions of posters. While picking one of the average poster sizes listed above may ensure you have the most options for printing, framing, displaying, or mailing your poster, no one is going to be pulling out a tape measure on the street to ensure that your poster is “standard.”