Five Factors to Consider: Designing for Large Format

I was inspired to write this blog while driving down the highway. It’s no surprise that marketers and advertisers aspire to reach consumers where they are, and yesterday, they got me in my car. 

I have a unique perspective on design and follow-through of print projects. As a graphic designer by trade, I understand all of the principles of design. As a printer, I understand the logistics that come with printing for large format. Combining that knowledge with my experiences as a visual consumer, I present to you five factors to consider when designing for large format.

Viewing Distance

This particular factor was the one that triggered the ideas for this post. As I was driving, I passed a large semi-trailer-truck on the highway. This semi had advertising on the back panel.

The placement was perfect and the printing looked fine, but one element that designers didn’t remember was viewing distance and size. The font size on the advertisement was unusually small – in order to read the words, I had to get uncomfortably close to the barreling semi.  

One of the fantastic appeals of large format printing is that it is large – understanding letter visibility is important when designing such a large graphic. Research conducted by the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, Penn State University and the United States Sign Council suggests: 

Custom Color Five Factors to Consider Designing for Large Format


Substrate Size

For us, it’s all about yield. Many creatives despise math, but calculating print size to the substrate may increase yield. Sometimes decreasing print sizes by a quarter of an inch can increase the amount of prints per sheet of substrate. Consider adding additional artwork in the salvage of the material to decrease your price-per-piece.

Understanding the substrate environment is crucial as well. If you’re designing for multiple stores, consider ceiling height and wall space for every store and not just a model.


We ship with UPS and FedEx. Both companies have standard size requirements that packages must meet – if the packages are larger than these specified charges, the package will accrue an oversize package charge.

Packages being shipped by UPS must be 150 pounds or less, up to 165 inches in length and girth (2x Width + 2x Height.) FedEx requires packages to be 150 pounds or less.

If your size or shape is larger than these requirements, we can work together in a research and development phase to come up with a printing solution that reduces packaging.


Printing with Custom Color means that you have endless options for finishing and additions to your print. We can make prints three-dimensional with cutouts and standoffs. We can add glitter laminate or make your surface dry-erase.

 Having a plan for your prints is paramount. You want a big bang for your buck. By talking with your account executive or your Happiness Hero, we can ensure that you understand the cost breakdown for each element.


With custom digital printing, we are able to make your prints fit a multitude of occasions. Many of our solid substrates can be printed on both sides. This means that one substrate can serve as two prints – either as a 360-degree view or flipped to reveal a different marketing message for another campaign.

With the functionality of prints comes the logistics as well. Considering finishing for prints, hardware for displaying and store-level employee set-up are all concerns one must think of when designing large format prints.

That’s a Wrap

I used to work as a designer – the millions of facets that you have to manage can be immense. For me it was helpful to fully understand the medium that I was designing for – and hopefully it helps you too.

Have any further questions? Contact me.

Brett Saunders is the Vice President of Finance and Development at Custom Color Corp. Brett spends part of his days wondering how to combine his loves of product research and development, Haribo gummy bears, large format printing, and all things Disney. The rest of his time he oversees the company finances and productivity. Connect with him on LinkedIn