Different sizes of poster paper rolled up ready to be used in in Bestype Printing NYC's local print shop

Step-By-Step Poster Printing Guide

October 9, 2023

Executing a truly great poster takes planning and patience. This blog post will tackle poster printing basics and guide you through getting your art ready to send to your local print shop.

Custom poster printing can be tricky! Getting extra help in printing posters of any size, including scaling vector graphics upwards or downwards for standard 18 X 24 poster printing, is part of Bestype Printing’s commitment to you. We’ve shown thousands of clients how to print a poster, and we’re determined to make it easy for you! When New Yorkers ask, “Where can I print a poster?” the design community points them to Bestype Printing.

7 Step Guide to Printing a Poster

Thinking about what you want your poster to look like when it rolls off the press will help guide your design choices. Deciding how to print a poster means selecting methods and media. Your poster printing methods include standard-size digital printing, but traditional poster printing techniques abound. Screen printing, lithography, flexography, and letterpress produce outstanding, memorable posters. Your media, the material you print your poster on, can be glossy or matte poster paper in many weights, card stock, or foam core board.

While this blog post will focus on digital custom poster printing, most of this information applies to other printing technologies. Even hand-drawn poster art and traditional photography are often digitized for modern poster printing.

1. Select a Digital Color Process

Are you wondering how to print a poster using the best digital color process? CMYK will offer you the best color accuracy. If you’ve already begun your design in RGB mode, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign offer options to convert RGB to CMYK within their settings files. Online illustration and design applications like RGB-based Canva are inexpensive alternatives to pro-level design packages like Adobe CC Suite. However, you’ll need to convert Canva-type files to CMYK using an external converter. Afterward, review your color output. You may find that you need to spot-check and re-color some areas of your design. This may be true when you photograph hand-drawn poster art, as well — digital retouching may be necessary.

2. Set Resolution, Size, and Orientation

Poster printing’s minimum resolution is 300DPI (dots per inch). If you go lower than 300DPI, you’ll notice blurry images and text when you print.

Set your poster size before you start designing. You can select standard poster sizes in your settings, or you can scale your design to fit even larger sheets.

In the United States, standard poster size settings are:

  • 24″ x 36″ (Large)
  • 18″ x 24 (Medium)
  • 11″ x 17″ (Small)
  • 8.5″ x 11″ (Letter)

Special poster sizes include:

  • 14″ x 22″ (Theatrical Window Card Poster)
  • 27″ x 40″ (Movie/Theatrical One-Sheet)
  • 40″ x 60″ (Bus Stop/Subway Poster Size)

Posters destined for pop-culture retail usually print as 24″ x 36″ or 22″ x 34″.

Whether portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal), designing in the correct orientation mode is critical to design success, regardless of size.

3. SetBleed and Trim

Bleed and trim settings show printers exactly how to cut your posters down to size.

The trim line is the edge around your printed product. Planning how you distribute content within the trim line’s borders prevents important content from being accidentally sheared off during the printing process. It would be best if you left 1/8th of an inch around all four sides of your poster for your trim line.

The bleed is additional space beyond the trim, providing extra room for trimming errors.

4. Conduct Spellcheck and Font Check

Because design applications normally don’t check for spelling, grammar, and font consistency, you should enlist a second set of eyes to review these problem areas. Your friends and colleagues will catch mistakes that you may not notice.

5. Prepare for Transfer

This step in pre-printing makes sure that the font files you need for your poster are included within your print file. This process also ensures that your text elements scale upwards and downwards in proportion to the vector images in your poster design. It also ensures that your files print correctly if your print shop doesn’t own licenses for the fonts you used in your custom poster printing project.

The common poster design apps each have different methods of locking-in fonts to appear correctly in custom poster printing. Briefly, InDesign uses “Package,” Photoshop uses “Flatten Image,” and Illustrator turns fonts into shapes within the design through “Convert to Shape.”

6. Export Your Files into Appropriate Formats

Poster printing files need to be exported into PDF or TIFF format. When submitting your file as a PDF, you should check your print resolution within your application to ensure it’s set to 300DPI. If you’re submitting your file as a TIFF, you will need to check that your file remains uncompressed and that the DPI remains at 300.

7. Begin the Print

Now that your poster is formatted and ready, the final step is to print! The final step is to pick a material for printing. Popular poster materials include:

  • Paperbard
  • Foam core
  • Vinyl
  • Polyester

Choosing the right material for the job is critical. If you plan on displaying your poster outside in NYC, then a vinyl poster can weather the elements better than other options. If you’re going to set up your poster inside as part of a display, then paperboard should work great.

Bestype Makes Vinyl Poster Printing Simple

If you’re new to poster design and printing, you may have scrolled down to this last paragraph, overwhelmed and wanting to get to the last word on poster printing settings help. Rest assured, our print design team is here to help you print your poster. We can even help design your poster! We’ll show you real-world samples of many custom poster printing projects we’re developing for our customers. It’s an advantage of partnering with a local print house. We know poster printing inside-out, having worked with commercial poster designers for over 40 years. And we’re here to help you turn your poster printing project around quickly and perfectly. Contact us today for your complimentary project consultation. We’ll show you how to print your next poster quickly and accurately.

Vinyl Poster Printing FAQs

Is vinyl good for posters?

Vinyl is much more durable than other materials, making vinyl posters perfect for anything that needs to be displayed outside. Vinyl withstands rain and snow incredibly well, making it an ideal choice for New York posters.

What is a vinyl poster?

A vinyl poster is a poster that’s digitally printed onto vinyl. Vinyl is often the best option for anyone who plans on placing a poster outside.

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