One of the most essential elements to consider when making your poster is the number of words you are using. Too many, and you risk losing the reader’s interest. Too little, and you won’t be able to explain the topic adequately. This raises an important question. How many words should a poster have?

The truth is that there are no hard and fast rules. Instead, there is a range of guidelines that you will need to follow. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind. 

Your Audience

The most important element that you will need to consider is your audience. This will determine how many words you will need to use. For example, if you are trying to create a poster for an academic audience, you will often need to use a few words to explain your research and the conclusions you reached. 

On the other hand, you might be making a poster that will appeal to the general public. They will often have a lower attention span. As a result, you will need to get to the point more quickly. This will mean using fewer words. 


The fonts you choose will have an impact on the overall feeling and aesthetic of your poster. Typography is not easy and picking the wrong fonts could jeopardize your project.

Picking the right fonts that complement each other could be the icing on the cake. It’s important to have a good understanding of typography but the topic is vast and I highly suggest this article:

Number of Words for an Academic Poster

In most cases, you will need to ensure that the number of words you are using is kept to a minimum. This helps to create a snappy poster, which can be read and understood very quickly. However, the most significant exception to this rule is when you are making an academic poster. 

This can often cause a lot of confusion. To help clear things up, here are some of the most common word counts: 

  • Introduction. This is to introduce the hypothesis and methods. Try to keep this concise. You should try and keep this section around 150 words long. 
  • Body. This is where you will explain the bulk of your experiment and conclusions. Break this down into different sections, each one covering a different part of the experiment. Each of these sections should be 100 words long
  • Results. You could try to explain the results using words. But it’s better to explain it visually. Ideally, you will be able to use a graph. If you need to put some text with this, make it short. Break it up into dot points. 
  • Conclusion. Quickly summarize the experiment and what you found. Talk about any conclusions you came to. This should be done in under 150 words. 

It should be noted that these are just guidelines. If you can get it done in fewer words, you should do it. Remember, it’s common for you to be there to explain the content. Because of this, you should only be providing the basics in the poster. 

Getting to the Point

When you are designing a poster, you need to have a core subject you want to explain to the audience. Sometimes, this will be as simple as telling them about an upcoming event or a hot new product. At other times, it will be more complicated, like explaining a scientific hypothesis. 

You need to be clear about what your central point is. Keep this in mind when you are writing the text for the poster. Nothing should go on the poster that doesn’t back up this central idea. If there is a lot of interesting side material, find another way of including it. You might want to create a website and link to it via a QR code. 

Typography Principles

Keep Titles Short

Often, the title on your poster is one of the most critical elements that you have at your disposal. It should be the primary way of grabbing the viewer’s attention. Because of this, it’s best to keep the title short and snappy. When designing your title, try to use the least number of words possible. It’s also best to make this text larger, helping it stand out on the poster. 

Color Theory

Color is going to play a huge part in the overall poster design. You will have to make sure your type is legible and easy to read. Sometimes have a less busy background with a less saturated color palette will help. Other times using complementary colors will do the trick.

Plus the use of different color palettes will induce different emotions which need to be considered. This quick article called, “How To Use Color Psychology To Trigger Emotions With Your Poster” will help get you up to speed.

Break up Large Text Blocks

Regardless of what type of poster you are creating, you don’t want to have large blocks of text. These will take longer for the reader to digest. As a result, there is a chance that they will walk away from it without absorbing your message. 

Instead, you will need to break up the text. There are a few ways that you can do this. You might want to split it into multiple sections. You can try replacing it with a graph. The best option, though, is to break it down into dot points. These will contain a lot of information, but they will be easy to read. 

Consider Text Readability

When you are designing a poster, you might ask yourself can posters have words? The answer is absolutely; they are needed to send the message. But it would help if you made sure that the viewer understands what you are saying. This is why text readability is so important. 

In this area, the most important thing you have to consider is the size of the font. This will depend on the type of poster that you are making. If you are making an academic poster, you will be able to have slightly smaller text. But you should be able to read it from a few feet away. 

On the other hand, if you are creating a poster advertising an event, you want the text to be as large as possible. It should be able to be read quickly, in less than 45seconds. To achieve this, you’ll need to limit the number of words that you are using. 

It’s also important to consider the color of the text. Pick something that contrasts with the color of the background. This will help you make sure that it stands out and is easy to read. 

Format Text Properly

You’ll also need to make sure that you format the text to make it easier to understand. Here are some of the tips you can use are: 

  • Don’t use too many fonts. Only use one or two fonts throughout the poster. Using more than this will distract the viewer, making it harder to process your information. 
  • Use bold or italics. This is a good way of emphasizing words or phrases. But it should be used sparingly. 
  • Keep the same heading size. If you have broken the text into headings keep the size and style of the heading consistent. 
  • Left-align text. Some people will want to center-align the text. But this can be awkward. It might make the words difficult to read. 

Using a Template

One of the best ways to judge the amount of text that you are using is by using a template. This will make it easier for you to rework or re-organize to reduce the number of words that you are using. This takes the headaches out of the editing process. 

Ask Your Friends and Family

Finally, if you are still in doubt about the number of words you are using, print out the poster and ask your friends and family for their opinion. They might be able to give you tips about the layout. They can also suggest where you can cut back on the number of words you are using.

Final Thoughts

In general, when you are making a poster, you want to be able to convey your thoughts using the fewest words. If you are making an academic poster, this might be between 400 to 500 words. On the other hand, if you are making an advertising poster or event poster, you might only need to use 20 to 35 words or less.

What about a movie poster? Well, it depends on the type. For instance, if it is a Teaser Movie Poster, you sometimes only need the title, a date when the movie will premiere, and some copy. If you are making a payoff, then you will have a title, date, actor names, copy/tagline, and the billing/credits, which have numerous names. If you are curious about the seven most common types of movie posters, you will want to read this article:

Plus, if you really want to dazzle your viewers with words, you have to read this post:

Genogram posters will have an assortment of different words that is dependent on your subject. Sometimes you are dealing with a large family tree, and others it could be characters in a TV show like Game of Thrones.

If you are ready to start making your own posters and want to skip Photoshop, then you will want to check out this article which lists the Top 11 Google Apps for Making Posters.

Regardless of which type of poster you are making, it’s best to use visuals rather than words to convey your message.  After a while, you will learn this art!