Choosing the Best Flip Chart Paper for the Classroom

Choosing the Best Flip Chart Paper for the Classroom

There are a variety of flip chart paper pads on the market. The key is getting the one that is right for you and your desired purpose.

Choosing the Best Flip Chart Paper for the ClassroomChoosing the Best Flip Chart Paper for the ClassroomChoosing the Best Flip Chart Paper for the Classroom

The average flip chart paper size is approximately 27 X 34 inches (appx .68meters), which fits correctly on most standard easels. Each has pros and cons depending on your intended use. Generally spending a bit of extra money in order to get a heavier quality paper type is worth it since some of the less expensive types are akin to the porous writing tablets often used by children in elementary school.

Such paper is more difficult to work with and often extremely difficult to tear from a pad. Additionally, it may allow ink to “bleed through” onto subsequent pages when marker ink seeps through the paper and damages or leaves marks on the next sheet. This wastes money since you can end up throwing away half of your pad due to damage.

Choosing the Best Flip Chart Paper for the Classroom by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Author

You can either purchase plain white or lined paper in yellow or white. There is even one type with light blue grid lines. All three types work well but the lined and grid paper works best for those of us who have difficulty writing in a straight line and those needing to make technical presentations using graphs.

Alternative Paper

Many years ago, I needed to create a running series of images for a program I was conducting over a period of months. Initially, I tried taping pages together, side-by-side. After I put them up and took them down several times, I realized this was not the best idea. They kept falling apart, the glue on the tape failed, and after a while, I had to recreate them (approximately 8-9 pages). That’s when I hit upon an idea when I was at my local meat market. I noticed the butcher tearing white paper from a large roll — AHA! I saw an alternative to pad paper and the rest, as they say, is history! It worked beautifully.

So, if you want to use long sheets of paper to line a wall for a special activity or presentation, you may want to consider going to a grocery supply store to purchase a roll of plain white butcher paper (not the waxed kind). You can also cut the paper to any length desired so that you can create individual sheets for participants to write or draw on for activities. This is a less expensive but more labor-intensive way to get the standard-sized paper. Even so, it saves precious budget dollars. You can even create makeshift pads for your easel. Do this by cutting sheets at the standard pad size (27 by 30 inches, or appx .6-.7 meters), punch holes at the top edges, and attach them together with a clip, staple, or any other device you can think of.

Self-Adhesive Pads

Another update to the standard newsprint flip chart paper appeared on the market a number of years ago. This new format has a self-adhesive edge along the top of each page pad (similar to the Post It Notes with which you are probably familiar) and is sized comparably to standard flip charts.  These easy to use pads simplify wall posting since you just tear a sheet from the pad and can affix it to most wall surfaces without tape, and with no damage to walls. The pages can be also removed easily and relocated.

There is a downside to these pads if you plan to create your pages in advance. Since they are literally stuck to one another, they must be separated and there is often a sticky residue along the top edge which makes writing on them a slight challenge sometimes. Also, once you have created your charts, if you desire to reuse them in subsequent sessions, they are difficult to roll evenly or to store.

If you would like creative ideas and techniques for buying the right flip chart materials and using them to create impactful flip charts for your learning events and meetings, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators.

Creatively Using Images on Flip Charts

Creatively Using Images on Flip Charts

People have preferences in the way they gain and process information. This is known as learning modalities or styles (e.g. visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). You can capitalize on their needs and expectations by including visual images on your flip charts and other visual aids in the classroom. This is especially important since various studies indicate that the majority of a given population prefers the visual modality. Thus, if you place images such as clip art, photos, graphics, or drawings on your flip charts, you can potentially better attract learner attention and help them better comprehend your written and spoken messages.

Creatively Using Images on Flip Charts by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

Like all other aspects of your training program design, images, and everything else you use should be directly related to session content and help facilitate the accomplishment of the stated learning objectives for the event. Otherwise, you waste time and potentially distract learners from the key concepts of the session.

When using an image on your flip chart pages, consider that the further an image (or word) appears from the center of your page, the more it seems to draw attention in that direction.  For that reason, there are two common design formats to consider when displaying your material on a page — formal and informal balance.

Formal Balance

Creatively Using Images on Flip Charts

Formal balance means that items are equally matched or displayed in a symmetrical pattern so that the participant’s attention is not pulled in one direction or the other.

Informal Balance

Creatively Using Images on Flip Charts

On the other hand, an informal balance shows objects that are asymmetrical or includes objects that are not equal in size, shape or pattern. This technique attracts attention to one area or another and can add contrast.

Care must be given not to distract from your intended objective when using this method. This can occur when the informal balance is too extreme.

To get the feel of formal and informal balance and what the concepts look like on your flipchart, draw and cut out a variety of images and shapes that you may want to continually use in the future (e.g. smiley faces, boxes, rectangles, simple people figures, or whatever). Spray them with repositionable artist’s adhesive and then practice placing them at various locations on your page. Next, try adding some lettering and move your images around.

For more creative ideas for designing, using, transporting, and storing flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators.

Be Creative with Your Flip Charts

Be Creative with Your Flip Charts

Be Creative with Your Flip ChartsIn my forty years of experience of facilitating training programs and teaching at the university level, what separates good flip charts from the bad (and in some cases, the ugly!) is always the ability of the facilitator to use creative techniques to share information. It is also their willingness to go beyond simply writing words on the flip chart paper.

I don’t know about you, but when I take the time to create professional-looking flip charts to support a presentation or learning event, I somehow feel more fulfilled as a facilitator. Maybe it’s because I don’t consider myself artistic or creative, so when I have a finished product that I think looks good, I feel a sense of accomplishment. This is amplified when someone else comments on the quality of my flip charts.

Also, in creating a series of pages for a session, I get to practice drawing simple characters and using some of the techniques I have learned over the year,s and to experiment with new ones. This practice enhances my skills even more. These, of course, are just side benefits. The main reason for using flip charts is that they help me communicate better.

Be Creative with Your Flip Charts by The Creative Trainer 

Research is done by the Wharton School of Business to determine the effectiveness of using visual aids when presenting found that using visuals in a presentation can cut meeting time by 24%. Here’s what they found:

  • When visuals were used, audience members perceived presenters to be more effective. Some comments following presentations were “better prepared, “more concise,” “clearer,” “more interesting.”
  • Following a visually supported presentation, 64% of participants were able to make a decision. Those in the non-visual group took longer to make a decision.
  • Of those audience members in a visual presentation, 79% reached a consensus, compared to 58% in a group with no visual support.
  • Of the participants in the visual presentation, 67% found the presenter convincing, compared to 50% in the group without visual support.

Notes + Flip Charts

If you have ever tried to take notes in a session as the facilitator rattles on, seemingly oblivious to the people in the room, you will understand the value of flip charts. Since participants can refer to a posted flip chart page without interrupting the facilitator to ask him or her to repeat a point, they are able to review material or catch up at their own speed. Additionally, the flip charts that the facilitator creates provide a vehicle for reinforcing what participants heard, or thought they heard.

Even though flip charts are not high-tech pieces of equipment, and have been around for decades, they are extremely flexible tools and can be surprisingly complex—and powerful, if used thoughtfully. As such, a degree of knowledge, ability, and creativity are required to use them effectively. What that means is that you must spend a bit of time reading books and articles about how to effectively create and use flip charts to get better at the skill. Once you have learned tricks for making your flip charts more colorful, visual, and professional-looking, spend some time practicing on pieces of copy paper. After perfecting the layout, language, and images you plan to use on your final flip charts, beginning transferring them to your flip chart paper. This method saves a lot of money that you will spend on expensive flip chart pads.

Be Creative with Your Flip Charts

Flip Chart Use Secrets

Flip Chart Use Secrets

Any trainer, presenter or facilitator who has been using flip charts long has likely developed a few tips that they could share with others on how to effectively use a flip chart.

Flip Chart Use Secrets

Flip Chart Use Secrets by The Creative Trainer

The following are three tips that I often share in train-the-trainer programs when participants ask for some basic flip chart usage strategies.

1.   If you create flip charts in advance. Plus, if you have prepared key concepts that you will discuss as you display a page. It can make small lightly penciled notes in the upper corner of each flip chart page.

These comments should be key points that you want to make about your topic. As you turn to each new page, briefly glance at these notes to remind you what you planned to say.

From a distance, participants will not see these small notes and will think you are a master facilitator!

2.   Rather than having to deal with a large roll of masking or painters tape each time you want to tear a flip chart page and have it posted on the wall, wrap a small amount of tape around one of the markers that you place in the flip chart tray at the bottom of the easel. You can then simply unroll a small amount of tape each time it is required.

3.  An alternative to the last tip is to tear off several pieces of tape and place them along the edge of the flip chart easel so that when you are ready to post a page, you simply grab a couple and hang the sheet.

Preparing for Effective Flip Charts Use

Preparing for Effective Flip Charts Use

The beauty of flip charts as a training aid is that with a bit of planning and practice most people can deliver and record information like a professional with them.

Preparing for Effective Flip Charts Use by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Creative Training Author

Here are three flip chart tips that will help you in your quest to look like a flip chart expert:

Preparing for Effective Flip Charts Use

1.  Create a colorful cover sheet that introduces your topic and have it showing as participants walk into the room.

2.  Place 2-3 inch strips of masking tape along the edge of your flip chart easel before learners arrive so that it is ready when you are to post pages on the wall with minimum effort and lost time.

3.  Put tabs made of 1-2 inch masking tape (this works better than the blue or green painters tape for visibility) or sticky note paper strips on each page and write the flip chart page topics on them. This allows you to quickly identify content on-page that you want to flip to during your session.

BONUS TIP: When using tip number 3, print the content topic on both the front and back of each tab so that you can read them whether the page has been turned or not.

Creative Strategy for Transporting Your Flip Charts

Creative Strategy for Transporting Your Flip Charts

Transporting flip charts can be a problem, especially if they are attached to a flip chart easel. To ensure that the masterpieces you have created for your learning are not damaged when transporting them to class, either tie a piece of string or wrap a large rubber band or thin elastic bungee cord around the bottom of the pad and easel. This will help prevent damage from the wind. Turn the pad over so that the cardboard backing faces out for additional protection against tearing.

Creative Strategy for Transporting Your Flip Charts by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas

Creative Strategy for Transporting Your Flip ChartsFor additional creative ideas on designing, developing, using, transporting, and storing flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Gide for Presenters, Trainers ad Team Facilitators.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog