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Poster Creation and Presentation

A guide to resources for creating visually engaging posters to present your academic research at research fairs or academic conferences.


woman presents research poster to viewerResearch posters are a visual representation of your paper or project. They typically include both small blocks of text and images (photos, charts, graphs, etc.). A poster will quickly educate the viewers it attracts about your work, as well as serve as a visual aid when you present your work to your viewers ("As you see in this graph... ").



Image on flickr: CAFNR; Photo by Kyle Spradley, c2014 - Curators of the University of Missouri - licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


General Layout

  • Posters are typically laid out in "landscape" (48" wide x 36 " high), but may be done in "portrait" (36" wide x 48" high). It's important to decide this before you start designing your poster.
  • Make the flow of the poster obvious to the reader. Typically, one would read down, then across--like a newspaper or magazine. Often there are 3-4 columns across with 1-3 blocks of text and image in each column, but there is no one right way.
  • Find your central point and consider the text, charts, or images you will need to convey that. A good poster will convey the essence of your paper without your explanation and also serve as visual aid to support your verbal explanation.
  • The title of your poster may be slightly different from your paper's title. Choose a poster title that will attract viewers and convey your central point. Use 100+ point font for the title and keep it to 1-2 lines. Use slightly smaller font for your name and affiliation.
  • Follow the organization of your paper to plan the layout of your poster. The sections of your paper can be translated to blocks on your poster.
  • Aim for a total of 300-500 words on your poster. You won't simply be pasting large blocks of text from your paper or your abstract onto your poster; you need to boil it down to the essence, with explanation and visuals as needed. Use a font size slightly smaller than your name for the section headings on your poster. The rest of the text should be approximately 28-point to 36-point font.
  • Use visuals that will attract viewers, but also illustrate your central point(s). 
    • Visualize your data with
    • Illustrate poems or critical passages of text using Wordle
    • Create simple flowcharts and other diagrams using Gliffy.
    • Create high quality graphics using Canva.
  • Use color on your poster, but use it smartly. Use only 2 or 3 colors in easy-to-read combinations. Make use of white-balance or leave open space on your poster help delineate sections and make your poster more visually appealing (less cluttered and overwhelming to the viewer).