How to create a poster (without needing to be a graphics expert)

Knowing how to create a poster is a must-have skill in today’s times. Posters, banners, and flyers are essential tools to grab attention, convey our thoughts in an easy-to-understand, visually appealing manner, and brand ourselves better.

Though ‘How to create a poster is the title of this post, the steps mentioned in this post can help create banners, flyers, mailers, or backgrounds for your social media pages. I picked this topic since many of my colleagues come to me for help related to this topic, and have even seen friends pay designers to create simple posters for them.

At work, we have opportunities to embed a neatly designed poster in an email to announce an event or send an update. If you take the Social Media sites that we frequent, they all let us (in fact, demand us to) customize backgrounds and banners.

To create a poster, we don’t need to pay tons of money to graphic designers, nor do we need to be graphic experts ourselves. The tools we use in our daily lives have options to create posters and banners. Or, there are free web-based applications that we could use too.

Simple ways to create a poster

We can create simple, elegant, and stunning posters using one of the many tools available in the market today and keeping a few simple guidelines in mind. So, in this post, let us see how to create a poster easily.

While there are numerous options, let me keep this post simple and discuss two simple ways. (If you would like me to cover other popular options, please leave a comment, and I will write another post for that).

Guidelines for poster design

Before getting to the two tools, let us go through a few simple guidelines for poster design:

  • Firstly, the size. Knowing what you are designing for will decide the image size (Width and Height in pixels) of the poster.
  • Next, following a few simple guidelines:
    • Keep it crisp: Don’t overload the poster with information.
    • Alignment, Spacing, and Distribution: Arrange your content so it looks neat. Try to be consistent with spacing between the different components (text, images) in the poster
    • Colours and Fonts: Don’t use more than three fonts. Don’t use too many colours and gradients (Note: Colours and gradients reproduce differently when projected or printed. So what you see when you create a poster may not be what you get when you project or print)
    • Progression: Our natural gaze follows a left to right, top to bottom pattern. Consider this in your design
    • Composition rules: Basic composition rules used in photography, like using leading lines or the Rule of thirds, can also be used in poster design. Look those up if they are new to you

Now, let us come to the tools. The two tools I will talk about are a) your everyday tool: Powerpoint and b) a web-based tool: Canva.com.

How to create a poster using PowerPoint:

  • Open Powerpoint (I am using Windows10 here). On the left panel, click ‘New,’ and you will see many templates
Powerpoint
  • In the search bar, search for ‘Poster.’ You will see various pre-designed templates. You can choose to pick one closest to what you want and then add elements to it. Alternatively, you can create a blank sheet, adjust the size as you want, and start editing it. Here, I am choosing a simple prebuilt template:
  • You can now add text or images to the poster in Powerpoint
  • Once done, click Save as, choose format as .jpg and save the file. This is the image file you can use. If you want to send this as a mailer, you can compose a new email in Outlook and embed the image.

How do I make a poster using Canva?:

Canva.com
  • Here, you can select the kind of poster you want to create, and Canva will set up a template with the recommended size for that kind. For example, here, I will go with an Instagram Post
Canva.com
  • Now, I can choose a pre-built template and edit it or start with a blank page. Here, I am selecting a simple template to edit
  • Once you finish editing, you can click ‘Download’ to save the file or click one of the available option buttons to post directly to Social media (here, Instagram)
  • That’s it!

Summary

Now, I have kept this post extremely simple, introducing you only to a couple of tools and basic guidelines. Many of you may already know these, but I hope this will help absolute beginners to get started in the world of poster design. I have created banners, posters, emailers, blow-ups, brochures and newsletters using these two tools. You can play around with these ideas and learn more complex operations yourself.

If you need more information or would like me to write further about anything mentioned in this blog post, please drop a comment, and I will get to it as soon as possible.