Types of Poster Paper: Which is Right for You?

Promotional window poster

Do you need to make a poster for your business, company, or organization? Posters help communicate important information to customers. Whatever your intention for your printed poster, it’s essential to make sure you use the right type of paper. 

But how can you tell what the best paper for posters is?

Three movie posters

What is Poster Paper Used For?

All posters present information in a visual, eye-catching way. But specifically defining your poster’s purpose will narrow down the best l types of paper to accomplish your goal. For example, posters can advertise a new movie, announce a community event, or communicate scientific research.

Posters used as marketing material or educational materials will come in handy at a career fair or farmers’ market. Professors can hang up or hand out mini posters to explain a university course. Posters as advertisements in shop windows can sway passersby to come in and sample a new product, purchase a service, or vote for a local politician. 

Get 20% off your first order at Printivity banner ad

Wall posters in school hallways or office buildings can call attention to a particular organization or event. Exhibition display posters at trade shows and conferences must be able to stand upright, communicate your brand effectively, and anticipate questions from attendees.  

In all these contexts, vibrant color is key to a good poster. Posters catch attention with more visuals than text, so the best types of poster material should support crisp lines and compelling visual contrast. 

Types Of Poster Paper

So, what type of paper are posters printed on? 

Paper for printing posters may be composed of a number of different materials, both synthetic and natural. Text paper (also known as copy paper), card stock, or sturdy paper board may include wood pulp or soft cotton fiber. Synthetic poster materials include vinyl, foam core board, aluminum composite, polyester, acrylic, and other varieties of plastic. 

You may come across vellum as an option, though this translucent, parchment-like paper is more common in the fine art world and not suited for commercial needs.

Poster paper with lamination or a special finish, like satin or gloss, has a plastic coating. Standard poster paper may be laminated or not. Generally, single-use advertisements and marketing materials won’t be laminated, but wall posters with the goal of longevity will benefit from a protective coating. 

The use of the poster will help determine the right kind of paper material. For example, a foam core board or a sturdy tri-fold board makes for an effective exhibition display poster. A poster hung indoors for a short period of time can simply be plain, unlaminated copy paper. A tough, synthetic material is ideal for a poster intended to be used year after year.  

It also helps to understand what paper weight means when selecting your poster’s paper material. Paper weight refers to its thickness. The heavier and thicker the paper, the better suited it will be for long-term or repeated use. 100 lb paper is slightly thicker than 80 lb paper, for example. Poster paper stock labeled “cover stock” or “cardstock” is thicker than text paper, which is essentially copy paper.  

Poster in a window display

How To Choose The Best Paper for Your Posters 

There is no singular best paper for poster printing; it truly depends upon your needs. The same is true for the type of finish you select. A finish can protect the paper from wear and tear or simply be an aesthetic choice. 

Uncoated (no finish) is appropriate for single-use posters. With temporary posters hung for a limited amount of time, there isn’t as much of a need for protection or style. Matte coating is an understated, sophisticated finish. A matte finish is flat-looking, with no shine or sheen. Sometimes that’s all you need. A semi-matte finish provides a bit more sheen than matte but is less shiny than a gloss finish.

A gloss finish reflects light. This type of finish offers an overall layer of shine to the poster, making colors stand out very well. Be aware that the shine of gloss paper may be too reflective for your needs, especially if the light hits it at an angle that causes glare.  

Another coating you may consider is the waterproof, tearproof, and disinfectable 10 mil synthetic option. Mud, wind, rain, and sticky hands are no match for this coating! Outdoor posters will be exposed to the elements for hours, days, or even weeks at a time. UV coating for outdoor displays protects from sunlight damage. You can also choose matte and clear lamination for a soft or glass-like protective coating. 

Printing single-sided is appropriate if you are attaching your poster to a wall. Print double-sided if the poster will hang from the ceiling and have viewers on either side. Print the same message on either side or switch it up. 

Still not sure which types of poster paper are best for you? It may help to think about how you will hang the poster. Tape, thumbtacks, or sticky tack will do for thin paper, but tape may rip uncoated paper upon removal. A laminated finish protects posters from tears and water damage and is a great option for signs requiring protection during removal (or in general). Thicker paper is more resistant to tears, but tears still do happen. 

Tips for Designing Your Posters 

Like with any document design, following some basic design tips when customizing your posters will ensure effectiveness. Make sure that you are utilizing blank space intelligently and that you’re aware of your margins. Ensure that the images and text are the appropriate sizes for the dimensions of your poster. 

Mini poster dimensions may be as small as 11 by 14” or up to 13” by 19” or a custom dimension. Regular posters go from 16 by 20” up to 26 by 39”. 

You’ll have the option for “no bleed” or “full bleed.” Full bleed means no margins. This is an aesthetic choice. People have come to expect margins on the sides, top, and bottom of any type of printed material. So when there are none, it helps to grab attention. It shows that your event or organization thinks outside the box, or colors outside the lines, so to speak. A more traditional look for a poster will have margins. Think about which option best fits the style of your organization or event. 

With Printivity, you can choose between rounded corners or traditional 90-degree90 degree corners! Rounded corners, like full bleed, make for a subtle yet unexpected design choice since 90-degree90 degree corners are the norm. 

Get 20% off your first order at Printivity banner ad

Even if you have a large poster with lots of room, don’t fill the whole thing with images and text. The eye won’t know where to rest or look when there’s too much to absorb. Minimalist designs are often more eye-catching. 

Choose a color that pops, a bold typeface, and include a way for people to find out more, such as an email address, website, or QR code. With advertisements everywhere, everyone is competing for attention. When in doubt, keep it simple.

Shop Printivity’s Paper for Poster Projects

With Printivity, you can choose the best paper type, size, finish, and other elements to create unforgettable posters. Our design experts and customer service reps are standing by, ready to assist in your next project. Shop mini posters, posters, banners, and compare signage options for all your franchise and marketing needs. Browse all customized products today.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here