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Show Rules for Linear and Inline Exhibits (Part 1)

08/26/15 by Brandon

This is the first part of our two part series on show rules for linear, or inline exhibits. Our goal is to clear up a lot of confusion about what you can and can’t do within your exhibit space. We’ll focus on linear exhibits, as they are some of the most common, as well as restrictive, exhibits you would find at a show. So what is a linear or inline exhibit?

What Are Inline Exhibits?

Inline ExhibitsThe term, linear exhibits or inline exhibits, is derived from that there is a straight line of exhibitors that are side by side. It means that you have neighbors beside you and, probably, behind you. They are designated by terms like 8’x10′ which means 8 foot deep by 10 foot wide. Other linear sizes that you hear frequently are 10’x10′, 10’x20′, 10’x30′, and so on. Regardless of the size of your exhibit space, you will most likely be limited in 2 ways: height and line of sight. Let’s focus on the height limitation.

The show usually provides an 8′ tall drape line or other 8′ structure to separate the exhibitors back to back and to provide a visually uniform backdrop. The height of the drape line determines the allowable height of your exhibit structure. Most portable (or pop-up) exhibits and banner stands will be between 78″ to 95″ (96” is 8’) tall easily meeting the show rules for height in a linear configuration. The show rules usually specify a maximum height at 8′ tall.

Show rules can be stretched depending upon the type of show. A public show like a home and garden show or a jewelry show will have a much more lenient policy of enforcement than a Business-to-Business event like a Government or Information Technology show. The rule of thumb that I always tell our clients is this: if your neighbor complains, the show organizer will use the show rules, as stated in the exhibitor manual, to settle any disputes. If you plan to stretch the show rules then you need to be able to conform to those rules without compromising your message.

Regarding the height restriction, the reasons are pretty clear. If your exhibit is taller than 8 feet, then the backside of your exhibit will be exposed in the exhibit space behind you. The backside of inline exhibits are usually not very pretty. If you plan to go taller, I would suggest that you get the exhibit height preapproved by the show organizer to get a space along the perimeter of the show where the show rules may allow you to go to the 12′ height maximum.

A variation to the 8′ tall exhibit that usually do not impose a problem is a header that sticks up slightly taller, is not directly against the backwall, and has a finished backside. As you move forward in the booth space you are usually not confronted about going a little taller as the sightline from the booth behind you looking up is at a pretty steep angle. So if your header is, let’s say, at 9′ tall but is two feet forward from the backwall, your “back drop” neighbor (meaning the exhibit behind you) probably will not see it anyway, much less complain.

In our next blog, we will discuss line of sight, the other show rule for linear exhibits which deals more with the exhibitors on either side of you.