In my “other role” as Secretary of Blackfriars (Agnes Scott’s very own theater troupe), I am in charge of all publicity for this years’ productions. It has often occurred to me that many of the things I do are related to the non-writing side of writing—editing and publication. Sometimes how your words are laid out is just as important as what they say, especially in the realm of publicity and general attention-catching-awesomeness. So for all of you aspiring publishers, even if the extent of that ambition is making posters for campus events, here are some tips to make them dazzle.

 
1.    Layout : Keep it neat. The less number of words you can use to get your point across, the more likely it is that people will pause on their way to get a biscuit and read about your event. Humans are simple creatures, and our eyes are attracted to large or bold words first—but watch out for the catch. IF ALL YOUR WORDS ARE EQUALLY HUGE NONE OF THEM WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE OTHERS AND YOUR SIGN WILL NOT ATTRACT ANY MORE ATTENTION THAN IF ALL THE WORDS WERE TINY. The golden answer to this conundrum is to increase the size and prominence of important words in order to draw your viewer’s eye to the title, time, or place for your event. Keep the witty catch phrases and less important details smaller—you’ve got to hookem before you can entertain ‘em.

 
2.   Font: The best kept secret about publishing regards serif fonts versus sans serif fonts. Times New Roman has little ticks at the tops and bottoms of every letter—serifs! Arial does not. Hence, Arial is a “sans serif” font. The human eye naturally is drawn toward sans serif fonts, but prefers to read blocks of text with serifs neatly in place. This is so important for fliers—put your title in a large clear sans serif font, and other info smaller and be-serif-ed. I promise that this is the rule all professional publications go by, and it will greatly improve the readability of your signage. One last warning: don’t go font crazy. Use two or three fonts, tops, on any one sign. Your readers will thank you.

3.   Images: Everyone loves cutesy clip art and lolcats (well, I don’t, but I’ve been told that I may be the only exception in the world). Images are a great way to draw attention. However, they work best as single, large, clear image, particularly something vivid that can become emblematic of your event. Think of the most memorable posters for movies or plays--The Silence of the Lambs, The Phantom of the Opera, The Dark Knight--all of these have a single image associated closely with them—the white face with the moth over its mouth, a half-mask, the Joker’s creepy image. Go simple and memorable, and you won’t regret it.
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Multiple images and no main focus make for a distracting poster
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Clear memorable image and fewer words tend to draw an observer in much better
With these ideas about layout, font, and image, you can bring the masses in to your events and have them stealing the posters off the walls. To frame. Because they’re just so great. 

 
Promise.

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Molly Saunders is a sophomore English Lit major and Writing Center tutor.
Elizabeth Berkstresser
2/3/2010

Wow. This will really help me when publicizing my next event!

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2/3/2010

Molly, thanks for this post! I think visual communication (as in images) is becoming just as important as written communication. I hadn't heard of the sans-serif vs. serif fonts for titles vs. text--where did you learn this? these are important tips!

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2/3/2010

thanks molly! this is very useful.

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Molly
2/9/2010

Thanks guys! Shannon, I was an intern at The Red Mountain Review, which is a literary magazine published out of Birmingham, AL, and the editor was always going on about serifs...it really is true, though!

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Lucia
2/15/2010

Great tips on the fonts!!! Also, I don't like lolcatz (is that how you say it?) either.

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