Effective Poster Presentations


A poster session is the presentation of research information by an individual or members of a research team. Poster presentations or sessions have become a major format of communication at academic conferences or meetings.  Check with the sponsoring conference, association, or agency for guidelines and deadlines for submission.

Designing a Poster Presentation



Poster Elements

Title - Includes author, institution.

Abstract - Summary of hypothesis, process and findings.

Introduction - Rationale, purpose, hypothesis.

Methods - Procedures used to conduct study, collect and analyze data.

Data/Results - Analyses and findings illustrated by graphs, charts, tables, pictures.

Conclusions -  Statement of the main research outcome(s).

Acknowledgements -People who have supported researcher such as an advisor, collaborators and grant support.

Reference(s) - Work cited, using discipline specific format (MLA, CBE, APA, etc..).


Layout & Design

Font size and lettering
  • Title should be legible from a distance of 5 -10 feet. Text should be legible from 1- 2 feet.
  • Try to establish a hierarchy of importance using the font size: 
        -Title:  Largest font size  - 65 -108.pts

        - Subtitles:  Next largest font size : 36- 45 .pts

        - Body text:  18-27 pts

       -  Avoid using  all caps 
  • Font selection is critical.  Sans serif fonts work well for titles and labels because of the clarity and simplicity 
  • All text should be at least between 18-27 (Preferably  24) font size 
  • Refrain from using more than two font styles 
  • Use bold, italics or underline to emphasize a word.
Colors and white space
  • Colors should be limited to 2 or 3 - If you choose to use multiple colors, use them in a consistent manner
  • Use consistent spacing between each element of the poster.
  • Map out the sections of the poster. Consider using gray-filled boxes as a placeholders for graphics or text. 
  • Most people read left to right and top to bottom.
  • Avoid the common mistake of including too much information. Additional information can be included in handouts or on websites.
Statistics and graphs (illustrations, photographs, charts and graphs) 
  • Make sure the lines on any graphs are labeled correctly.
  • Graphs and figures should be the same size for consistency.

Design Tips

Advice on Designing Conference Posters - Colin Purrington, Department of Biology, Swathmore College.

Guide to making posters with PowerPoint.

The Oceanography Society provides examples of 'good and bad' posters

Changing the Size of Your Slides

Saving PowerPoint Presentations as PDF Files 

Sample Layout

Use grayscale to plan your poster.  In this example the layout was created and then the photographs were entered first.


Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools allow a user to organize and retrieve information, such as citations for books, articles, and Web sites.  Two popular tools are Zotero and Mendeley.  

Zotero Reference Manager
Mendeley Reference Manager
  • Give citations on a poster when paraphrasing other's work as you would in a research paper.
  • Always cite image sources.