Bathroom Poster No-Nos
You’ve seen them. The perfectly placed posters. The ones that are right at eye level... as you sit on the potty in the restroom. Churches are famous for these – at least in the women’s restroom. You enter the stall to do your business, and there’s the latest flyer, advertising the next Bible study or fun event. Historically, these happy little posters are filled with every dazzling typeface (font) the creator could think of to grab someone’s attention (as if there’s anything else more interesting to read in a restroom). And thus the reputation is born: bathroom stall flyers are generally cluttered and unattractive in spite of good intentions and information. Here are a few tips to keep things tidy, yet still eye-catching (in case someone tends to stare at the floor instead of the back of the stall door).
Keep your fonts to a minimum! Pick one or two. If you’ve found a “fun” font that’s got crooked letters and curlicues, use it for headers, but not the main body text – you may like it, but it’s hard to read within a paragraph. If you decide to use one font for headers, and one for body text, make them different enough from each other to notice. In other words, create contrast. This goes for size, too. Make the headers stand out and draw the eye in to direct the reader to the important parts.
It might be your first instinct to use center alignment for all your text, but use this sparingly. It can be much more attractive (and readable) to use left alignment. If you’re using Microsoft Word, the default is left alignment. Leave it there unless you feel center alignment adds to the design (in many cases though, it does nothing but make the reader’s eyes work harder).
Use graphics wisely. It’s super easy to throw a bunch of clipart onto flyers in order to give them color or attract attention. But beware – the clipart you’re using may not all match in style. For example, if you’re preparing an ad for a Valentine’s banquet, you may find a variety of clipart heart images. Some may be pink, some may be red, some may use thick lines, or thin, some may look like they were painted with a brush or colored with a crayon. Do they look good together? Do they clash? Take time to really look at the clipart you’re using. If you can’t tell the difference, find someone who has an eye for that sort of thing and ask them if the styles match or clash. Consistency is key. That said, use your images in tasteful amounts. Don’t overpower your flyer with balloons, flowers, hearts, or smiling faces. Let them be accents in and around your text. Let them draw the eye but not be the center of attention (unless there is a specific reason you want them focusing on an image first).
Keep your information short and sweet. Don’t add a whole paragraph just to fill up space. Flyers are meant to be glanced at quickly to gain the pertinent information in passing. Unnecessary words just make clutter – now is not the time to show off your novel-writing abilities. Consider bullet points instead of a paragraph, and don’t scatter your chunks of information around. Stay focused.
We’ve made up a mock half-sheet flyer to demonstrate some of the things listed above. Look at the one on the left. (It goes to a few extremes, but you see the point.) Now look at the one on the right and notice all the changes. None of them were hard, but they make all the difference. Of course, there could be even more improvements made, but this shows the basics. (click picture to enlarge)
Don’t have any fancy layout programs? Both of these were created using only Microsoft Word.
Keep it simple. Keep it clean. And remember... these suggestions apply to all flyers/posters – not just the ones posted in restrooms.