There are different types of posters which students can be asked to produce. It is important to attend to the differences in purpose for each poster type and to identify the specific text structures, visual design and language features for each. Common poster types used in classrooms include:
- Promotional posters for films, books, exhibitions, events
- Campaign or awareness raising posters
- Information report posters
Global Education’s Poster Art, while intended for older students (Years 9-10), provides a good starting point for teachers of all year levels in planning a literacy or meaning making unit of work involving posters. This set of three lessons about posters examines the purpose and core elements of posters, the use of health campaigns to raise awareness of health issues, the use of public health posters to address health issues of the day, and different presentations of malaria health posters. Students identify key elements of example posters to compare and contrast the ways in which ideas and art-making processes are used to communicate meaning about a topic or issue. The focus is on the type of message, audience and purpose, appeal, potential impact of message, and the extent to which various aspects such as typeface size and style, design, imagery, colour, symbolism, message, and content, influence the appeal and impact of the poster.
To find posters of all types for analysis, use image search in your search engine and keywords. For example to find posters which have a health message search for poster+health; for environmental issues search poster+environment. To find movie poster examples, search for poster+film or movie. Use the advanced search tools to narrow the search to high resolution images which you can screen in your classroom for discussion and analysis.
This Poster analysis worksheet from the The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration can be easily adapted to suit any poster example; as can this Poster/Visual Analysis Worksheet from the Bringing History Home project.
Designing information flow in an information poster (or a double page spread in a book)
Information posters, for example a scientific explanation, have a lot more information than a typical movie or issues poster. The same design principles also work with the design of a double page information spread in a text book using images and text. The balance and placement of text and graphics within the poster, and the use of headings and sub-headings are important considerations. The poster needs to be divided into logical, sequential sections, making sure the headings and sub-headings stand out to allow your reader to scan your poster quickly.
English speaking readers read text from left to right and top to bottom. This means the spatial arrangement of information on the poster requires careful consideration to logically lead the reader’s eyes through the information. Three basic arrangements are horizontal, vertical, and centered. Column are usually arranged as two columns for portrait orientation and three for landscape orientation.
The flyer template in The interactive Printing Press from ReadWriteThink can be used to create information poster layouts. This interactive tool enables the user to chose a template and then add text and images, choosing font size, position and colour. The final result can be printed. A basic planning sheet is also available.
Scootle resources for Australian Teachers (Education Services Australia)
This digital learning objects introduce some of the design concepts that help shape meaning in posters.
Design a layout: movie poster TLF-ID L8745
Tools for making digital posters
How to Make a Poster provides simple guidelines for making a poster in print, with PowerPoint, and with Photoshop. How to Use Different Fonts on Your Posters offers further advice about use of fonts and the need for design clarity.