While the visual design of a poster may seem paramount, knowing the basics of type hierarchy is a key component to
compelling design. Your poster must get its message across quickly and accurately, and your type choices are essential
for this. And since you only have a few seconds to catch their attention, knowing these valuable type tips are a quick way
to ensure success.
Type hierarchy is a tried-and-true way of organizing text from the most important to the least. It creates a contrast between
elements, using typefaces, font sizes and weights, capital and lowercase letters, orientation, bolding and italicizing,
placement, and colors. Proper hierarchy adds structure, creates visual organization, reinforces messaging, and makes
it easier for people to read your content. Most importantly, make sure the most crucial text, the heading, is first. The title
is what attracts the viewer’s eye. You don’t want the main message on your poster to get lost in a sea of text. An eye-catching
design will create a logical progression from point A (heading) to point B (subheading), and finally, to point C (the
final message, or body copy).
Following are the three critical levels of typographic hierarchy (heading, subheading, and body copy) that will make your
poster something to remember!
The heading should be the most prominent and commanding part of all the text in your design. Make the heading visually
stimulating with a large type and a font that matches your poster messaging and personality. The rest of the copy doesn’t
stand a chance if the heading doesn’t grab and inspire your viewer. This is your chance to catch their eye and draw them
in, so make it count!
The subheading is located below the heading, often in a smaller font. It’s essentially an expansion of the title. It should
further engage the audience, but without telling too much. The subheading should be visible and stand out from the body
text without overpowering the heading. You may use a different font but be sure that it complements the font used in the
The body copy should have the smallest type size in your design, and it should expand on what you communicated in the
heading and subheading. Using a simple typeface consistent with the overall design would be your best option. Make sure
the spacing and point size are large enough for easy readability and avoid using all capital letters, which can make the
copy harder to read.
Now let’s take a look at some samples of poster designs that implement the three levels of text hierarchy.
As you can see, each poster successfully uses the three levels of type hierarchy. You know where the heading,
subheading, and body copy are. Each header grabs the viewer’s eye with a carefully selected font type, size, thickness,
and color. Directly below the headings are the subheadings. They are still on the larger side, but don’t distract from the
title or get lost amongst the body copy. And finally, the body copy is set in a smaller, yet easy to read, font that encourages
the viewer to continue.
As you can see, this reliable method of type hierarchy is a relatively simple way to create a truly eye-catching poster. So,
what do you think? Want to give it a try? Start with a dynamic visual to draw them in, amp up the color, fill the space, focus
on complementary typography, and have fun!
Need poster design inspiration? Check out our 2022 Design Trends post and see if one of these current trends would
work for your poster!
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