What Are Standard Poster Sizes and Poster Dimensions?

We use standard poster sizes and poster dimensions in our Wild Posting® or other types of advertising campaigns. What does that mean, and how big are these posters?

There are three standard poster sizes:

  • Large —anywhere from 24 inches x 36 inches up to 40 inches x 60 inches
  • Medium —anywhere from 16 inches by 20 inches up to 18 inches x 24 inches
  • Small —anywhere from 8.5 inches up to 11 inches x 17 inches

Anywhere you go around the world, referring to these standard poster sizes means the same thing, even in places that use the metric system. However, you may also hear these poster sizes referred to using other terms. Understanding standard and nonstandard poster sizes and dimensions can help deliver the most effective and efficient outdoor advertising campaign.

How to Decide on Poster Size

The size of the poster used in an out of home ad campaign depends on many things, including:

  • Budget
  • Campaign goal
  • Campaign location

While all three are critical, the biggest determining factor is location. Posters that are too big won’t fit correctly, whether you conduct a wheatpaste poster campaign on urban construction barriers or display a poster in a kiosk at the mall. Posters that are too small won ’t make the impact you ’re looking for and could go unnoticed by passersby. You want a dynamic campaign that looks proportional to the area where you advertise.

We have experience determining the right poster size for all types of campaigns, including subway, bus stops and other transit. It ’s a skill developed by years of practice.

Small Posters

Small posters are most often used in stores and in wheatpasting or Wild Posting ®campaigns. Some people refer to postcards handed out at experiential marketing events as posters, though we don ’t. Images must be fairly small for this type of poster, and you have limited room for words. Small posters may also be referred to as flyers or handbills.

How Big Are Small Posters?

The three main sizes of small posters are:

  • 8.5 inches x 11 inches
  • 11 inches x 17 inches
  • 12 inches x 18 inches

How Can You Use Small Posters?

You can use small posters in:

  • Wild Posting® and wheatpasting campaigns
  • Mall advertising
  • Experiential advertising

Medium Posters

Medium posters are useful in all types of ad campaigns, and they are still affordable and easy to maneuver when pasting up Wild Posting ®posters or adding to a transit kiosk. You can fit an image and more text on a medium poster.

How Big Are Medium Posters?

The two main sizes of medium posters are:

  • 16 inches x 20 inches
  • 18 inches x 24 inches

How Can You Use Medium Posters?

You can use medium posters in:

  • Wild Posting® and wheatpasting campaigns
  • Mall advertising
  • Experiential marketing
  • Transit advertising
  • Movie advertising

Large Posters

Large posters are most commonly used in advertising because they are big enough to fit ample text and imagery. They offer versatility and compatibility with nearly any form of outdoor advertising.

How Big Are Large Posters?

The four main sizes of large posters are:

  • 24 inches x 36 inches
  • 27 inches x 39 inches
  • 27 inches x 40 inches
  • 40 inches x 60 inches

How Can You Use Large Posters?

You can use large posters in:

  • Wild Posting® and wheatpasting campaigns
  • Mall advertising
  • Experiential marketing
  • Transit advertising
  • Movie advertising
  • Event advertising
  • Subway advertising

Standard Poster Sizes in the U.S.

In the United States, you can find a range of poster sizes within the small, medium and large categories. We’ve created this breakdown of sizes, which includes metric measurements (centimeters = cm) and alternative names for many of the sizes.

Poster Size

Other Names for U.S. Poster Size

8.5 inches x 11 inches (21.59 cm X 27.94 cm) Letter, ANSI-A
11 inches x 17 inches (27.94 cm x 43.18 cm) Ledger, legal, tabloid, ANSI-B
12 inches x 18 inches (30.48 cm x 45.72 cm) Mini-poster
16 inches x 20 inches (40.64 cm x 50.8 cm) Portrait picture
18 inches x 24 inches (45.72 cm x 60.96 cm) Architectural C, half-size
24 inches x 36 inches (60.96 cm x 91.44 cm) Architectural D
27 inches x 39 inches (68.58 cm x 99.06 cm) One-sheet movie poster
27 inches x 40 inches (68.58 cm x 101.6 cm) One-sheet movie poster
48 inches x 36 inches (121.92 cm x 91.44 cm) Academic or research poster
40 inches x 60 inches (101.6 cm x 152.4 cm) ubway or bus stop poster
46 inches x 67 inches (116.84 cm x 170.18 cm)ubway or bus stop poster

European Standard Poster Measurements and Sizes

While the U.S. uses these standards across the country, in Europe, sizes are more uniform across the continent. You can find slight variances in France, Italy and the UK. But with those exceptions, most of Europe relies on the  German Deutsches Institut f ür Normung standards, developed to offer a representative standard used across countries in Europe.

Here is how U.S. standard sizes match up with European standards.

European Standard Poster Sizes Table Using DIN

  • European B1: 24 inches x 36 inches (large poster)
  • European B2: 18 inches x 24 inches (medium poster)
  • European A1: 23 inches x 33 inches (medium poster)
  • European A 2: 17 inches x 23 inches (medium poster)
  • European A3: 11 inches x 17 inches (small poster)
  • European A4: 8.5 inches x 11.5 inches (small poster)

Note that European sizes do not always equivalate exactly to American poster sizes. For instance, the European A4 is slightly larger than the letter poster used in the U.S., making it appear narrower than we are used to seeing.

UK/British Standard Poster Sizes

In the UK, people often refer to posters as cards, crowns or sheets, sometimes combined with another word to help differentiate sizes from each other. The A poster size, going from A4 to 2AO, is the most popular in the UK.

Per UK terminology, the smallest posters are called double crown. Posters range all the way up to a six sheet, which is more than twice the size of a one sheet. All sizes are inches or centimeters.

Poster Size

for Poster Size

8 inches x 10 inches (20.32 cm 25.4 cm) Card
20 inches x 30 inches (50.8 cm x 76.2 cm) Double Crown
27 inches x 40 inches (68.58 cm x 101.6 cm) One Sheet
30 inches x 40 inches (76.2 cm x 101.26 cm) Quad
40 inches x 81 inches (101.26 cm x 205.74 cm) Three Sheet
80 inches x 81 inches (203.2 cm x 205.74 cm) Six Sheet

France/French Standard Poster Sizes

Instead of using the DIN standard sizing, France uses International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards, a more globally focused standardization system. When working with a French printer, you will need to work in ISO A and B sizing. The one exception tends to be cinema advertising —there, we have seen DIN used.

As in the UK, France has developed names for its posters, too. The smallest is, appropriately, referred to as petite, while larger sizes reach all the way to double grande (confusingly, that ’s actually more than double a grande; France gonna France). Again, we put our size comparisons in centimeters.

Poster Size

French Names for Poster Size

5.7 inches x 23.6 inches (14.48 cm x 59.94 cm) Petite
23.6 inches x 31.5 inches (59.94 cm x 80.01 cm) Moyenne
23.6 inches x 63 inches (59.94 cm x 160.02 cm) Pantalon
31.5 inches x 47.2 inches (80.01 cm x 119.89 cm) Demi-Grande
47.2 inches x 63.0 inches (119.89 cm x 160.02 cm) Grande
63.0 inches x 94.5 inches (160.02 cm x 240.03 cm) Double Grand

Italy/Italian Standard Poster Sizes

Like France, Italy also often uses the ISO sizing and tends toward A and B size posters. Interesting bit of trivia: The photobusta size has evolved over the years. While it currently measures almost 20 inches x 28 inches, putting it in medium poster range, it used to be much smaller —about 14 inches x 20 inches. This change came because photobusta is often used for movie posters, and starting in the 1960s, those in charge of the creative wanted a bigger canvas to play with for the cinema. Comparisons here remain in centimeters.

Poster Size

Italian Names for Poster Size

27.6 inches x 39.4 inches (70.1 cm x 100.08 cm) Un foglio
39.4 inches x 55.1 inches (100.08 cm x 139.95 cm) Due Fogli
55.1 inches x 78.7 inches (139.95 cm x 199.9 cm) Quattro Fogli
13 inches x 27.6 inches (33.02 cm x 70.1 cm) Locandina
19.7 inches x 27.6 inches (50.04 cm x 70.01 cm) Photobusta

Australia/Australian Standard Poster Sizes

Now you know what standard poster sizes look like in the U.S. and Europe. But what about Down Under? ISO, the aforementioned international standard, has become standard in Australia as well. There are only four main sizes used there, fewer than in other countries/continents.

Poster Size

Aussie Names for Poster Size

11 inches x 14 inches (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm) Lobby card
26 inches x 30 inches (66.04 cm x 76.2 cm) Daybill
27 inches x 40 inches (68.58 cm x 101.6 cm) One sheet
41 inches x 81 inches (104.14 cm x 205.74 cm) Three sheet

Printing Standard Size Posters

No matter how big or small your poster, it will be printed in one of three ways:

  • Inkjet
    : Inkjet printing employs ink cartridges to apply an image directly to the poser surface. It works better on images than a laser printer, which is ideal for text. The clear imagery is a welcome tradeoff from the faster production of a laser printer.
  • Offset
    : Offset printing is a mass-production method of printing that uses metal plates to transfer the image to rubber rollers/blankets, which then print it on the page. The poster never comes in direct contact with the metal plate.
  • Digital
    : Unlike analog types of printing like offset, digital transfers the image directly to the poster without any go-between. It is fast and precise, and its flexibility makes it easy to swap imagery in and out.

Paper Weight for Standard Posters

Choosing the right paper weight for posters ensures you get the best-looking results. For instance, when you pick heavier paper, it will last longer. But your budget may demand you take a tradeoff for lower paper quality to print more posters. Here are a few things to think about as you choose paper weight:

  • Budget
    : Consider not just the cost of the paper but also the type of printing (digital, offset, inkjet) you need to use for the paper and how much that will cost.
  • Location
    : Is your advertisement inside or outside? In hot or cold weather? Near subway steam vents or open to rain and wind? These answers can help you determine how durable the paper should be.
  • Length of campaign
    : The campaign duration, whether it ’s two weeks or two months, also plays into the paper weight you select. A heavier paper weight also stays flat for longer, reducing the chance of rips and tears as people walk past.

Of course, personal preference also plays into the decision. Some people simply like the look of matte over high gloss or vice versa. The tone of the paper (warmer will have a redder tone, cooler will be blueish) also plays into personal preference. You may want to experiment to see what looks better.

No matter what paper weight you go with, make sure the paper is acid-free to avoid yellowing. The older posters get, the more likely they are to fade.

Bottom line? We recommend going with a minimum of a 60 pound paper weight, upgrading to 80 pound or 90 pound if it ’s within your budget. But any lighter than 60 pound, and you risk smudging, tearing and a generally low-quality look.

Let Us Worry About Standard Poster Sizes and Dimensions for You

This is a lot of information to digest, especially if you have never used posters for a campaign before. We can take the guesswork out of it. Trust us with your next Wild Posting ®or other advertising using  posters. Contact us today to learn more about your options.