Well designed posters usually use striking visual images, and often communicate a message
in a provocative, inspiring or humorous way. In their simplest form, posters can be hand
drawn in small numbers and displayed within a community to publicise a local issue or event.
More sophisticated posters may be designed to convey a message to a larger number of
people, over a longer time period. The production of durable posters will require access to
printing services and may require the skills of a graphic artist.
Advantages of Posters
Simple posters can be designed and produced by adults and children in any community. They
can be designed to communicate local issues using images which are familiar and appropriate
for that location.
Communicate visually which can be good for non-literate audiences.
Can be publicly displayed to reach a wide audience.
Are often used to decorate homes and offices, thereby serving as a constant reminder
of the message.
How to use Posters
Be clear about the message to be conveyed, and
the intended audience. Ensure the design
effectively conveys the central message.
Think about the visual impact of the design, use
eye-catching or interesting images and colours.
Work out what resources will be needed to make
posters (large sheets of paper, paints etc.) or the
costs of design and printing for producing larger
Consider designing posters on a computer, but
remember the size will be confined to the paper
size in the printer.
Posters may be displayed indoors or outdoors on
walls, trees, etc. remember that wind and rain
will damage posters placed outdoors.
Constraints of Posters
A poster encouraging the use of
techniques which reduce the
use of firewood
Posters are limited to conveying simple
messages. They cannot communicate complex
issues or processes.
Posters communicate ‘one way’, the audience cannot ask questions or receive direct
Production costs may be prohibitive.
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Real Life Story
Posters Help Promote Women's Participation in Kenya's Governance
Kenyan women’s groups from Kakamega in Western Province have used posters to address a
wide variety of issues affecting their lives. Under the guidance of Professor Khasiani the
groups started out by encouraging women’s involvement in the democratic process, and to
enable up to 30,000 women learn how to access information via computers.
On a brightly coloured poster, a woman wearing the traditional
Kenyan village attire of a kerchief, a wrap-around skirt and
cotton blouse is doing something untraditional: using a
computer. The poster reads in Kiswahili, 'Be educated through
computers’. This poster is a humble but significant step in
encouraging rural Kenyan women to increase their
participation in the democratic process.
In December 1998, the project team asked a sample of
women's group leaders to identify the civic education needs of
their communities. These women were later invited to Nairobi,
along with local chiefs, for a meeting. After the meeting, the
group leaders began developing education materials. They
chose posters as the best medium because of the semi- pro A poster promoting family
literate nature of their communities. The women identified
10 issues of concern, and those issues dictated the design
of the posters.
One poster reads in Kiswahili: 'Vita nyumbani bado ni vita' ('Violence at home is still
violence'). It shows a man with one hand on a woman's throat and the other brandishing a
lash. The women leaders also felt that transportation issues should also be addressed, so
another poster states; 'Roads are good, they bring development’. A third poster shows rural
women in a bank manager's office, with the caption; 'Give credit to women to promote
Real life story by kind permission of IDRC adapted from writing by Mike Crawley that
appeared in IDRC Reports, the online magazine of the International Development Research
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The Schumacher Centre
Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ
Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400
Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401
This document is based on the Micro Media Card Pack: A Tool Kit for Community
Development Workers produced by Practical Action in October 2003. Reproduced
as a Technical Brief in October 2007.
Practical Action is a development charity with a difference. We know the simplest ideas can have the
most profound, life-changing effect on poor people across the world. For over 40 years, we have been
working closely with some of the world’s poorest people - using simple technology to fight poverty and
transform their lives for the better. We currently work in 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin