Tips on Posters and Notices

In any organisation or business, we frequently have to use good-old-fashioned posters to spread information. When done effectively, they can work. A lot of the time, people get it wrong… so here are some tips.

Avoid “Urgent” or “Important” Headlines

If these words had any affect at all at grabbing your attention, why does the multi-billion dollar advertising virtually never use them?

Headlines such as Urgent, Important, Attention, Read Me, etc. don’t give any further information to what the message is about.

It’s quite arrogant to assume that your message is indeed “urgent” or “important” – the reader should be left to make up their own mind. Instead, use a concise and relevant headline.

If it is urgent, put a deadline and time when they need to act by. If it’s important, state the consequences of not acting on the message.

Use Icons and Images

Don’t use generic Clip-Art for the sake of it, but do use specific icons and images that give people additional information faster than using words would.

For example…

  • Use a special health&safety icon on all such notices. You could also print them on the same coloured paper.
  • Have you lost a piece of PC equipment? Don’t waste time trying with a three-paragraph description – just show a photo of it (search Google Images or eBay for the product name).

Take the 20-Foot Test

Stick your poster on the wall, and stand back 15 to 20 feet. Can you still read it all? If not, it either has too many words, you have used small text or you’ve gone for one of those fancy old fonts that no-one born after 1780 can read.


Pick out three or four words that you consider the most important part of the main text, and put them in bold.

Direct Them to Further Information

Don’t expect them to stand there and read your poster for half-an-hour. Refer them to either a webpage, or tell them who to call or e-mail for more information.

“Display Until” Date

On communal noticeboards, many posters stay up for months after they should have been taken down, simply because no-one knows who they belong to, or when they can be removed.

At the bottom of the poster (can be very small letters) write something like: Added by Tony Adams, display until 24th November 2008.

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