Public Service Announcements and Posters

Public service announcements

Public service announcements, or PSA’s, are short messages produced on film, videotape, DVD, CD, audiotape, or as a computer file and given to radio and television stations. Generally, PSA’s are sent as ready-to-air audio or video tapes, although radio stations (especially community or public stations, such as campus radio or National Public Radio affiliates) sometimes prefer a script that their announcers can read live on the air. They can be done very simply with a single actor reading or performing a message, or they can be elaborate, slickly-produced messages with music, dramatic story-lines, and sound or visual effects.

Basic guidelines for PSA format:

Most stations prefer 30-second spots. If you’re writing a television PSA, you’ll want to keep the announcer’s copy 2 or 3 seconds shorter than the entire length of the PSA. Television stations run on a much tighter, more rigid schedule than radio stations, and you may find that if your PSA runs exactly 30 seconds, for example, the station may sometimes cut off the end.

Length of PSA 10 seconds 15 seconds 20 seconds 30 seconds
Number of Words 20-25 words 30-35 words 40-50 words 60-75 words

Your copy should be typed, double or triple-spaced.

You can put more than one spot per page for the shorter ones, but with 30 and 60 second spots, put them on separate pages.

The top of the sheet should list:

  • how long the PSA should run (i.e., “FOR USE: November 18 – December 20” or “IMMEDIATE: TFN” [til further notice])
  • length of the PSA
  • what agency or group the PSA is for, and
  • title of the PSA.

The script itself should be split into two columns; the left column will list all directions, camera angles, sound effects, etc. and the right column lists all dialogue.

Don’t use hyphenations or abbreviations.

The bottom of the sheet should be marked with “###”, the standard ending used in releases to the media to let the media outlet know there are no further pages to the script or story.

Your script can be sent as “live copy”– a simple script that’s ready to be read by a live on-air announcer — or as a pre-recorded tape. While live copy is inexpensive and is used extensively in radio, television stations rarely use live copy scripts.

Below is an example of a live copy PSA script for radio. Two longer scripts — one for radio and one for television — are shown with the other examples at the end of this section.

Example of PSA :

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States (2005-2009). Breast cancer deaths are going down the fastest among white women compared to women of other races and ethnicities. Black women have the highest death rates of all racial and ethnic groups and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. The reasons for this difference result from many factors including having more aggressive cancers and fewer social and economic resources. To improve this disparity, black women need more timely follow-up and improved access to high-quality treatment.



A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to a wall or vertical surface. Typically posters include both textual and graphic elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or wholly text. Posters are designed to be both eye-catching and informative. Posters may be used for many purposes. They are a frequent tool of advertisers (particularly of events, musicians and films), propagandists, protestors and other groups trying to communicate a message. Posters are also used for reproductions of artwork, particularly famous works, and are generally low-cost compared to original artwork.


Here are some ways to use posters in literacy program :

  • to advertise events or products
  • to display information or instructions
  • to teach about some kinds of information

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