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Rena PattonMay 19, 2021 7:00:00 AM6 min read

Best Practices for Booth Design and Art Submission

Trade show booths are as unique and varied as the businesses that use them. However, the best practices for designing an effective booth are consistent every time.

If you’re preparing for your first trade show, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of exhibit design options you come across. Fortunately, with a little research and planning, you can turn that anxiety into excitement about all the possibilities for your new booth.

Use these guidelines to help keep your design efforts on track, and create a beautiful and effective trade show exhibit:


Tip 1: Pick the Right Booth Type to Set Yourself Up for Success

The type of exhibit you choose depends on two factors: 1.) The activities you will be completing in your booth, and 2.) exhibit space sizes dictated by the event organizers.

Here are the most common trade show booth types, and when to use them:

INLINE BOOTHS: Inline booths are very common because they are affordable, effective options that allow a business of any budget to participate in a trade show. Inline booths are typically 10x10 or 10x20, with other booths on either side and behind the booth, and one side open to the walkway.

While their scale is small, inline booths can pack a punch when it comes to marketing. By strategically using colors, graphics, and signage, you can effectively stand out from the crowd, demonstrate your brand, and show off what you do.

If you need a budget-friendly way to meet prospects and and collect lead information, an inline booth can be very effective.

PENINSULA BOOTHS: A peninsula booth is open to aisles on three sides. Typically, peninsula booths are 20x20 or longer.

Because a peninsula exhibit encompasses about as much as space as four inline booths, this size offers more room for things like private meeting rooms, lounge spaces, presentation seating, or demonstration areas.

ISLAND BOOTHS: With walkways on all four sides, it’s impossible to miss an island booth. The 360° open space allows for an immersive trade show experience, and constant opportunities for connection with showgoers.

Choose this type of booth if you have a flexible budget, ambitious trade show goals, and plans to use the space efficiently. An overly empty booth can look barren and uninviting, while an overly crowded booth leads to frustration and confusion. Plan your interior space accordingly.

TWO-STORY BOOTHS: Rise above your competition (literally) with a booth that features two separate levels. Two-story booths are almost always island booths.

Choose a two-story booth if you want to make an impression on trade show attendees, and if you have more ideas than you can fit onto one floor. Setup, teardown, shipping, and other costs can be higher for this booth, but you’ll also experience a higher ROI from this eye-catching structure.

PORTABLE BOOTHS: Simple assembly, lightweight materials, and an emphasis on transportability make portable booths a fantastic option for frequent exhibitors who are cost-conscious.

Booth staff can set up and tear down on their own, and often, even take the booth elements with them as they travel from show to show. Portable booths minimize or eliminate shipping, drayage, and labor costs which can quickly add up for brands that frequently exhibit at trade shows.


Tip 2: Make it Easy for Attendees to See What You’re Offering

Imagine the people walking past your exhibit. How will they know that they need what’s inside those booth walls? Trade show booth design helps you show them. Use a combination of graphics, text, and signage to show who you are and what problems you solve, at a glance.

Avoid being vague with statements like “the best in the business” or images that aren’t easily associated with your offerings. Instead, get specific. The more specific and clear you can be about your product or service offering, the better.

For example, a booth for a new type of toothbrush for dogs might show images of happy owners brushing their dog’s teeth, with text that reads “doggie dental care has never been easier.” A poor choice would be a regular picture of a dog, with the text “show your dog that you care.”


Tip 3: Brand Consistently from Top to Bottom

Everything associated with your exhibit should be clearly branded. Use colors, logos, and graphics that work together and correspond to your brand personality. From the hanging sign above your booth to the pamphlets on your table, all the elements of your booth should be coordinated. Additionally, your booth branding should also match other marketing funnel elements such as your website and outreach materials.


Tip 4: Focus on the Details (Because Showgoers Will)

Don’t make the rookie mistake of overlooking impactful, but less prominent, elements of your exhibit. For example, new exhibitors sometimes underestimate the importance of attractive, well-padded flooring and high-quality lighting.

After all, no one will be able to find your booth if it’s not well-lit, and no one will want to hang out at your booth if they’re uncomfortable standing there for an extended sales pitch. Plus, both of these details can make a visually impactful statement without taking up extra space.


Tip 5: Safety First for No Worries Later

Leave some room in the budget for things like signage, stickers, partitions, hand sanitizer dispensers, and more to accommodate post-pandemic health safety measures. You may need directives to help visitors stay six feet apart in your booth, or shields to divide private meeting spaces.

Additionally, be mindful of spacing in and around demonstration, lounge, and presentation areas. The safer people feel in your booth, the more likely they are to engage with your brand. The last thing you want is to make the situation more stressful than it needs to be for your booth visitors. Always be sure  to have their safety in mind right from the state.


Tip 6: Be Mindful of and Adhere to Art Submission Guidelines

Booth design professionals need files and images delivered in specific sizes and formats in order to render them properly into your finished product. Be sure to ask for art submission guidelines well ahead of time so you and your graphic design team are not scrambling at the last minute. 

For example, here are some of our art submission guidelines:

ACCEPTED FORMAT: Photoshop • Illustrator CS6 • Acrobat XI or below

LARGE SIZE: Recommended 150 dpi at full size — add 2” bleed min. on all four sides

POSTER SIZE: Recommended 300 dpi at full size — add 1” bleed min. on all four sides

And here's a handy reference you can use to make sure you're always providing your designer with clearly laid out, ready-to-go graphics.


  • 3D & vinyl cut logos must have key/path line
  • Required bleed 2” for large, 1” for small
  • Fonts & strokes outlined
  • Embed image links
  • Notate scale if any
  • Number files per graphic frame views
  • Check visibility around counter, monitor, door, or product display
  • Check image resolution at 100% print size

Even with best practices in place, it can still be helpful to seek professional assistance in designing an impactful, high-quality trade show booth. If you have a show coming up, please give the experts at Exhibit Options a call. We’d love to help.