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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

Layout and Flow

  • 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). 

​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).

The following resources can help you create powerful visuals: