The best software to use when designing a banner would be Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, or CorelDraw.
Adobe Illustrator works well because it is a vector-based program. Vector-based art can be scaled to any size without loss of clarity or detail. Photoshop works well because it is a photo manipulation program, meaning it was made to make images at pretty much any size, so you can set your banner up at the correct size. CorelDraw can do a little of both — mostly vector-based text and shapes along with some photo manipulation.
Programs to avoid: Paint Shop Pro and Microsoft Office programs like Word, Works, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher. Paint Shop Pro does have lots of clipart and can do page and banner layouts, but when you select a “banner” file type, all this does is tell your desktop to print the same image across several sheets of paper.
Microsoft Office programs are good for text-only banners because your banner printer can copy and paste the text into a better file format. Office programs are designed to work with letter paper and simply can’t make a file big enough to work for large-scale printing.
Tune in again next Friday, when we will be discussing how to choose the best fonts for your banner.