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Original Movie Poster Terminology

One Sheet Posters

These are the most common type of original movie posters that collectors usually come across, and therefore are the most collected ones as well. These movie posters usually measure around 27 inches by 40 or 41 inches, though this does not necessarily mean that all one sheet posters are of this exact measurement. One sheet movie posters from the pre-1980s were mostly shipped folded, and if there are posters from this time that are rolled instead of folded, their value is usually very high now because of their rarity. Since the mid-1980s, most movie posters are shipped rolled instead of folded. All one sheet posters are vertical in nature (in portrait format).

D/S - Double Sided

Double Sided means that the poster has a mirror image (everything is backwards) on the back. These posters are to be used in lighted poster frame boxes most often found in movie theaters. Studios started issuing double sided posters in the 80's but these became very prevalent in the 90's. Double sided posters are harder to produce counterfeits from (but there are some) and are therefore more desirable for a lot of collectors.  On rare instances, DVD Posters or Smaller Promo Posters can be double sided but they generally have a completely different image on the backside. 

S/S - Single Sided 

Single Sided Posters are just that....the image is one side only. It is a huge misconception that modern movie posters that are single sided are counterfeit. This is not true. While single-sided posters are easier to "copy", the studios do release single sided copies as well.

Promo Posters/Mini Sheets

As its name implies, the "mini-sheet" is simply a small poster, printed on poster paper. They come in a variety of sizes, depending on the studio and the film. In many cases, the mini sheet is an exact duplicate of the one-sheet, only smaller. Currently the most common sizes are 11"x17", 11.5"x17", 13"x20", 13"x19", 14"x19" and 14"x20". But these too can vary. Quite often, mini sheets are printed as advances to help generate interest in the film.

While the mini sheet can be displayed in the lobby, it is most often used in connection with special promotions or giveaways. Since mini sheets are frequently given away at movie premieres or special screenings, they are printed in greater numbers. While promo posters may not increase in value because of this, they are gaining popularity with many new collectors because of their frameable sizes and because they most often look identical to the one sheet.


Bus Stop/Shelter Posters

These movie posters are the ones that are usually seen at a bus stop or shelter area, pasted inside a glass-enclosed display. They are printed on coated card stock or vinyl-like paper, and usually measure 45 inches by 70 inches (vertical format). Due to their large size, bus stop/shelter posters are difficult to handle, but some collectors still take a liking to them anyway. They are shipped rolled and continue to be used as a form of advertising in the present day.

Half-Sheet Posters

Half-sheet posters are horizontal format (landscape format) type movie posters that are usually printed on thicker paper than one sheet posters. They usually measure 22 inches by 28 inches, and were issued both rolled and folded in the past. Half - sheet posters are no longer used in the present day, thus they are very rare and highly collectible.

Insert Posters

Insert posters usually measure 14 inches by 36 inches in size, and are in vertical or portrait format. No longer issued by studios, they were issued rolled and were usually made from thicker stock paper or cardstock. However, inserts from the 1960s and earlier were usually issued folded. Insert posters are extremely rare, and their small size makes them highly popular among collectors due to the ease of handling them.

30 x 40 Posters

These extremely rare posters are named after their size and are in portrait format. They are usually printed on heavier stock material and feature the same artwork as their one sheet counterparts for the same movie. It’s very rare that a 30 x 40 poster is found in near mint condition as the card-like material creases easily. They are no longer produced by studios.

40 x 60 Posters

These posters are exactly the same as 30 x 40 posters except for their size, which is 40 inches by 60 inches. 40 x 60 movie posters were usually printed only for major motion pictures because they are large and expensive to produce. They are also no longer in production.

Three Sheet and Six Sheet Posters

These huge posters are very rare due to their size and the fact that only a limited number were produced. Three sheet posters measure around 41 inches by 81 inches, while six sheet posters measure around 81 inches by 81 inches. Both were always always issued folded, were printed on thicker paper compared to one sheets, and were meant for small billboard use. They have not been used by studios since the 1970s. They are very troublesome to handle, but their rarity makes them desirable to movie poster collectors. There are also 24 sheet posters which were meant for large billboard use, measuring around 9 feet by 20 feet, with all the same features.

Window Cards

These vertical movie posters were used in years past for display in glass windows of stores and other locations to promote a movie. They usually measured about 14 inches by 22 inches, and were printed on thick stock paper. These posters usually possess a blank area at the top for the movie venue and date to be written, and collectors may come across vintage posters with this information written on the poster already. This does not lower a window card’s value as that was its purpose at the time. Sometimes the blank area is trimmed off before being sold, but this lowers the poster’s value. Window cards are usually unfolded, though occasionally a collector may come across a very old folded one.

Lobby Cards

Lobby cards were small posters, measuring about 11 inches by 14 inches, which were printed on cardstock and in horizontal format. They were usually printed in a set of eight cards and were used for display in the theatre’s lobby (thus their name). A set usually contains one Title Card that displays the credits of the movie or the key stars to represent the whole movie, and seven Scene Cards which each display a different scene from the movie. There were also mini lobby cards (also known as stills), measuring 8.5 inches by 10 inches, which were sometimes printed on photo paper instead of card stock. Mini lobby cards were meant for press use instead of lobby use. Lobby cards and mini lobby cards are highly collectible and easy to handle due to their smaller size and are generally no longer printed by studios.