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Creating Effective Posters

Use this guide to get ideas for designing scholarly research posters.

What is a Research Poster?

"A large-format poster is a document that can communicate your research at a conference, and is composed of a:

  • title
  • introduction to your research question
  • an overview of your methods/novel approach
  • your results
  • an insightful discussion of your conclusion
  • previously published articles that are important to your research  
  • an acknowledgement of the assistance and support you received from others"

Credit: Colin PurrintonSwarthmore College

The Periodic Table of Poster Elements

Example layout of a poster

Credit: Penn State University Libraries. 

I: Introduction and Research Question

Your introduction sets the stage for the project and serves to give the reader an overview! It should peak their interest.  Best practices include:

  • Put your topic within context of published literature
  • Provide a description and justification of your experimental approach
  • Hint at why your subject is ideal for such research
  • Give a clear hypothesis
  • Minimize the background information and definitions - include just what is relevant!
  • Don't repeat your abstract

Approximate word count:  200 words  

Font size for your introduction:   

Headings: about 44 pt

Main text:  about 32 pt

II: Methods

Here, describe your experimental equipment and the research methods you used.  In addition to the text, you might want to add:

  • Figures or tables to help describe the design
  • Flow charts to describe the experimental procedures
  • Pictures or labeled drawings of the organism or the equipment used

Approximate word count: 200 words

Font size for your methods or research question section:  

Headings: about 44 pt

Main text:  about 32 pt

Captions for your figures:  about 28 pt

III: Results and Findings

This section analyzes your data and explains if your experiment worked out, or if you were not doing an experiment, what your research findings were. Things to include are:

  • Data analysis
  • Supporting charts, figures, images, or tables
  • Supporting information for your argument
  • Legends or pictures that can stand on their own and help the viewer with an understanding

Approximate word count: 200 words.

Font size:  

Headings: about 44 pt

Main text:  about 32 pt

Captions:  about 28 pt

V: Conclusions and Future Research

This is where you will sum up your poster and remind readers of your hypothesis and the results of your research. A few things to include:

  • Focus on the take home message
  • Was your hypothesis supported? 
  • Why the results are conclusive & interesting
  • Relevance of your findings to other published work

Approximate word count: 300 words 

Font size:  

Headings: about 44 pt

Main text:  about 32 pt

VI: Acknowledgments and References

This is the part where you will credit those who helped you produce this research. Key things to include are:

  • Those who funded your research
  • Sources that you used during your research
  • Credit for those who provided supervision and mentorship
  • Credit for any figures used in your poster
  • Links to a full report, if necessary 

The text on this section will vary with the number of credits necessary, but will generally stay under 100 words. 

Font size:  

Headings: about 44 pt

Main text:  about 32 pt

Note

Your poster can be customized to what your research looks like! Not all posters have each section - it depends upon what you are communicating. Some posters will have more or less text, some will have more figures and photographs than others, some will have sections detailing specific parts of their research not included in this template. 

Remember - people will be viewing your poster from multiple feet away! Include only the most important points about your research. 

Credit: University of California, San Diego Libraries. 

Poster Creating Tips

How to make a better academic poster