Distilling Information

Posters are meant to communicate quickly and the key to achieving this is being able to distill information into the most necessary parts. For many people this goes against their natural inclination to include all the details that someone might ever want to know about the subject. Full information has its place in appropriate materials, but never on a poster. To help you decide what information is necessary, you should always ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this poster?
  2. What is my audience?
  3. What is the core message?

What is the purpose of this poster?

Posters are intended to sell something, promote an event, promote services, or develop ideals. The first step to successfully distilling information is to ask yourself what is the single purpose for the poster? Understanding the primary goal will help you to make decisions about what information is pertinent.

What is my audience?

The second thing you need to decide is who your primary audience is. Just as we discussed in the previous unit, this involves compiling a short demographic profile. Luckily, you’ve already done that and should have a solid answer for this question!

What is the core message?

Finally, knowing the purpose and audience, you have to decide what is the core message, or what information is crucial to fulfilling the purpose. If your goal was to promote an event you would want information that would get someone to the event: date, time, and location. If you were promoting a service you would want information that allows someone to obtain those services: contact information.

If you feel that supporting information would be nice, but not necessary, a poster can always point someone to additional resources for more information. If you have a webpage with the full contents you could put the web address on the poster. That way the poster doesn’t become cluttered with information, but the information is still available if someone is interested.

The distilling of information has really been a popular theme in contemporary poster design. Minimalism and simplicity are really strong themes because the convey one message really well without clouding the information. Take a look at some examples of modern posters that distill information and focus on very simple design.

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