What Features Should Appear On Any Production’s Poster?

What are some good features that any production’s poster should include? Title, dates, venue, and how to get tickets I assume, but is this all? And is there a best way to format for biggest impact on those looking at it? Thanks


My gut reaction…

My first thought is to make sure that your poster conveys what is compelling about your show. Of course the dates and ticket information are critical, but none of that matters if your poster joins the glut of forgettable marketing material in local store windows and on community bulletin boards.

There’s an assumption that creating a poster is something you just have to check off your marketing to do list. To a point I understand this. It speaks to credibility. If someone is trying to figure out whether or not to take your show seriously, learning you don’t even have a poster might cause them to assume that no one is putting much effort into the show. I understand why any poster – even a mediocre one – is better than no poster at all.

BUT you’re putting in the effort of creating a poster anyway. You’re paying to have the posters printed, which is usually a significant chunk of your marketing budget. Why not put in the extra brain power to figure out what’s noteworthy about your show? Amazing costumes, brilliant dancers, well known source material, an award winning script? Whatever is amazing about your show, put that on the poster.

The more I think about it…

Okay, so, given that your poster needs to be compelling in someway, I think(?) the intent behind this question was understanding all the little details that should go on the poster. With that in mind…

What DOES belong on the poster

  • title of the show
  • venue
  • open and closing dates
  • how to get ticket information (probably a phone number and/or a website)
  • some kind of imagery (if you think you’re poster should just be text, you better get a rock star graphic designer to make that text look amazing)

What DOES NOT belong on the poster

  • NOT every individual performance date and time
  • NOT information about where to park
  • NOT ticket prices (unless that’s one of the compelling things about your show – and I doubt it is)

Beyond that you’ve got some leeway. Depending on your show and crowd, there may be things you want to include. The litmus test should always be does this make someone interested in either seeing the show or talking about the show.

If the proceeds of your show are benefiting a local soup kitchen, should that be on the poster? It depends. Is the best audience for your show people that want to help out a soup kitchen and seeing a little entertainment is an interesting bonus? Or is the ideal audience people who will see the show for the amazing entertainment value, and just feel that much better telling friends about the show later when they learn in the curtain speech about the soup kitchen?

Formatting the poster

I won’t insult you by claiming that I have all of the skill and education to be a graphic designer. At the end of the day, getting a professional involved is probably your best bet, however there are certain things that you can tell your designer you want (or if push really comes to shove that even an amateur with no experience can keep in mind while flirting with poster design).

The poster needs to be interesting from a distance. It doesn’t (necessarily) have to be legible from across the street, but it should be eye catching. That’s where having amazing imagery comes in. That’s also why you want to limit the amount of text that appears on the poster. Check above the very short list of what belongs on your poster. If you’re adding words that aren’t on that list, please have a good reason.

It also needs to grab people’s attention at a glance. Wherever your poster ends up, people are probably only going to scan it for a moment as their eyes move on to the next things. What is going to grab their attention and cause them to come back and look for longer?

As far as formatting rules such as, “the title should always be in the top left corner and the dates should always be on the right side,” I don’t have any insight to offer there. In fact, most rules in that vein would probably keep your poster from sticking out and capturing attention.

My best advice…

Walk through a theatre district and notice what posters jump out at you. I do not recommend just copying the ideas on the posters – especially the ones in your home town – but hopefully it can spur ideas as you develop your own poster concepts.


Thanks for the question, Scott. And if you’ve got a question you want my take on, just ask.

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