Designing for large format pieces

Instinctively, one’s thought is “the larger the piece, the more content is needed to fill all that area,” but it’s quite the opposite. There are a couple of factors that you will need to take into consideration:

  • How far is the reader going to be from the piece? The greater the distance, the larger the fonts and images need to be. Therefore, the more space the content will use.
  • How will the consumer be viewing the piece? Are they driving by with little to no time to take in information, or are they strolling down an aisle at a conference, expo, or event? The more time someone has, the more content they can absorb.

Large format design is considered anything more than 18” in width. UF/IFAS Communication’s (ICS) most common requests for large format design are conference posters, informational posters, and retractable banners.

Here are some helpful guidelines to use while designing for these types of pieces:

Conference posters

Conference poster size can vary depending on the conference requirements, but 36” tall x 40” wide is the most common size we use. Content can be lengthy, but you can still do things to improve the design.

  • The main attention grabber for posters is the Draw attention to it! Use a bold, extended font, such as UF’s branding font, Obviously Wide or Extended, so that the font size can be adequate length-wise and without using too much vertical space. Play around with the colors and graphical elements from UF’s Branding Guide,
  • Break the poster into multiple columns; 3-4 columns are usually adequate. Doing so makes the paragraph width shorter and more comfortable to read.
  • If possible, streamline the data into short points to allow for some eye-catching design and typography. If simplifying is not an option, pull out some data and draw attention to it with a font change, a larger size, and a change of color. See the samples below.

These guidelines will make your poster and data stand out among the rest.


ample layouts 2 conference posters using big, bold, and colorful fonts for the title. Large and distinctive data points formatted to draw extra attention to that area.

Retractable banners

The retractable banners that ICS designs are 33” wide x 79” tall. Content should be brief and to the point. It takes a person just a few seconds to decide whether they will spend valuable time reading or looking at something. Even though people have more time to read these pieces, they don’t spend much time doing so. Banners should have exciting imagery and eye-catching graphics to draw people into your booth. They should identify your department, the program, and the topic and even brighten up an area in your office.

  • The main attention grabber for posters is the title. Draw attention to it using big, bold fonts and colors.
  • Choose attention-grabbing images that represent what you are communicating.
  • Keep the content to a minimum. Ideally, no more than a brief description and a list of 5-7 bullets allows for exciting design elements that draw attention to your banner and ultimately to your table for further conversation. At this point, give the consumer supplemental material, such as brochures, with much more information and value so they can read at their leisure.

The rule of thumb when designing for large format pieces is JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY!


A collection of 3 sample layouts of retractable banners that use big, bold, and colorful fonts for the title, large, interesting photos and text appropriately spaced out and broken up into different shapes to add interest.

NEW PRODUCT AVAILABLE – Retractable Tabletop Displays

A product photo of the retractable table top.

We have a new product available through the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore, an 11.69” x 17.12” retractable tabletop display.

Unit cost: $25. Printing cost: $26.95. Shipping cost: $9.95.

We use the same design techniques for these as the larger retractable floor display.


Posted: September 16, 2022

Category: , UF/IFAS Graphics
Tags: Banners, Communications, Graphic Design, Posters

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