The Different Types of Posters and Their Unique Characteristics

Posters have been used as a form of communication for hundreds of years. From ancient times to modern society, some forms of posters have been used to advertise events, sell products, promote causes, express political opinions, and more.

Today, these tools don’t use their relevance. They are used in different industries, from advertising to education, and everyone can make them with a free poster maker — StoryboardThat is one example of such a platform.

It’s no surprise then that there are several distinct types of posters according to their topic and purpose. Here is an overview of the various kinds and their unique characteristics:


Commercial posters are created to promote a product or service that is for sale or available for rent. They typically feature bright colors and eye-catching graphic elements to draw in viewers. These posters often include information about the product’s features and prices as well as contact information or website links so that potential customers can learn more.

The three main types of commercial posters are point-of-sale (POS) posters, direct response posters, and promotional posters. 

  • POS posters emphasize visually attractive elements that help capture people’s attention while they are shopping. 
  • Direct response designs focus on providing detailed information about a product or service, typically including a call to action for the viewer. 
  • Promotional ones emphasize discounts and special offers in order to entice viewers into purchasing the product or service being showcased.


Educational posters use compelling visuals to educate audiences on topics ranging from science and history to art and politics. Teacher classrooms are traditionally decorated with such designs, while they are also often seen in museums, libraries, places of worship, workplaces, airports, and other public spaces.

The main types of educational posters are instructional, informational, motivational, and decorative. Here is a quick explanation of their peculiarities:

  • Instructional posters feature diagrams, charts, and other visuals that guide students through specific topics. 
  • Informational designs provide concise summaries of a particular topic and can be used for review or to introduce new concepts. 
  • Motivational ones often include inspirational quotes and messages to help keep students focused or on track with their studies. 
  • Decorative designs come in a variety of colorful designs that add visual appeal to any learning environment.
types of commercial posters


Political posters convey a particular point of view about a political issue or candidate. They aim to inspire people to take action by voting for a certain candidate or joining a cause that supports their beliefs. Political posters generally contain slogans or messages about important issues along with the name of the candidate or political party being promoted.


Event posters are used to advertise gatherings such as concerts, conventions, festivals, and conferences — just about any type of event that requires promotion can benefit from a poster campaign!

These promotional pieces typically include detailed information about the event including date/time/location/prices/list of performers etc., as well as a catchy slogan or memorable image designed to attract attention.


Movie posters act like mini advertising campaigns for films before they hit cinema screens. A good movie promotion should be able to accurately capture the feeling and tone of the story while also enticing potential viewers enough to get them intrigued enough to purchase tickets at their local theater (or streaming platform). 

Great cinematic examples include Jaws’ iconic arched shark fin over an unsuspecting beach scene or the bright red umbrella above two silhouetted lovers in Casablanca’s classic postering image — both instantly recognizable iconic images that perfectly encapsulate their respective films’ stories.

Digital vs Traditional

Nowadays, most posters we see are created with the help of computer software and then printed out or posted online. However, it has not always been so. Traditionally, they were printed on paper or cardboard.

Digital posters are created using computer software and displayed on electronic devices, and although they can be printed out, the methods of their creation are different from the ones used for traditional designs. 

Generally speaking, traditional posters require more labor-intensive processes such as designing, manually printing and assembling the materials. Conversely, creating digital designs is often a faster process as it involves less manual labor and has the potential to reach an unlimited audience on a variety of digital platforms.

Additionally, traditional projects tend to have limited customization options whereas digital ones can be easily altered and updated.

Traditional posters offer a more tactile experience that can be framed and hung in prominent places, while digital ones can be easily shared online, reaching hundreds or even thousands of people with just one click. Plus, digital posters are quick and easy to make using online tools and templates.

No matter what kind you’re looking at — commercial, educational, political, event, or movie, in digital or traditional form — each type of poster has its own unique characteristics that help you bring your specific project to life.

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