How to Design a Research Poster

Posted: July 28, 2006 in How to...?
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What is a Research Poster?
A poster is where the researcher directly presents their research results as a visual display, which is positioned on poster board. The poster is usually a mixture of a brief text, mixed with tables, graphs, pictures, and other presentation formats. The researcher stands by the poster display during an assigned time, while other conference participants can come and view the presentation and interact with the author.

Planning the Poster

  1. Determine the size of the poster. This is usually given in the poster specifications.
  2. Make a rough sketch of the poster. The title should appear at the top. A brief introduction should appear at the upper left. The conclusions should be at the lower right. Methods and Results should fill the remaining space.
  3. You may find it helpful to use graph paper and small pieces of paper to better visualize where the components of your poster will go.

Creating the Title

  1. This part of the poster includes the title of the work, the authors’ names and the institutional affiliations.
  2. The title banner should be readable from 15 – 20 feet away.
  3. If space permits, use first names for authors to facilitate interactions, otherwise use initials.
  4. City names, or even states, often may be dropped from the institutional affiliations.
  5. Use a simple, easy to read font. A san serif style, such as Helvetica (Mac) or Arial (PC), is ideal.
  6. Use boldface and all-caps for the title itself (about a 96 point size).
  7. Use boldface and mixed upper/lower case for the authors names (about 72 point size).
  8. Use plain text, no boldface, and mixed upper/lower case for affiliations (about 36 – 48 point size).

Poster Layout

  1. Muted colors, or shades of gray, are best for the background. Use more intense colors as borders or for emphasis, but be conservative – overuse of color is distracting.
  2. Determine a logical sequence for the material you will be presenting.
  3. Organize that material into sections (Methods, Data/Results, Implications, Conclusions, etc.).
  4. If there is about 20% text, 40% graphics and 40% empty space, you are doing well.
  5. There always is too much text. When in doubt, rephrase that text or delete it.
  6. Use active voice when writing the text; “It can be demonstrated” becomes “The data demonstrate”.
  7. Remove all material extraneous to the focal point of the poster.
  8. Since graphs & figures will have explanatory captions, there is no need to label the graphic with Figure 1, Table 2, etc.
  9. Self-explanatory graphics should dominate the poster. A minimal amount of text materials should supplement the graphic materials.
  10. Use regions of empty space between poster elements to differentiate and accentuate these elements.


  1. Graphic materials should be visible easily from a minimum distance of 6 feet.
  2. Restrained use of large type and/or colored text are the most effective means of emphasizing particular points.
  3. Remove all non-essential information from graphs and tables (e.g. data curves not discussed by the poster).
  4. Label data lines in graphs directly, using large type & color. Eliminate legends and keys whenever possible.
  5. Artful illustrations, luminous colors, or exquisite computer-rendered drawings do not substitute for CONTENT.
  6. Lines in illustrations should be larger than normal. Use contrast and colors for emphasis.
  7. Use colors to distinguish different data groups in graphs. Avoid using patterns or open bars in histograms.

Poster text

  1. Use short sentences, simple words, and bullets to illustrate discrete points.
  2. Double-space all text, using left-justification; text with even left sides and jagged right sides is easiest to read.
  3. The text should be large enough to be read easily from far away.
  4. Section headings (Introduction, Methods, etc.); use Helvetica, Boldface, 36 point
  5. Supporting text (Intro text, figure captions, etc.); use Helvetica, 24 point (boldface, if appropriate)
  6. If you must include narrative details, keep them brief. They should be no smaller than 18 point in size, and printed in plain text.
  7. Be consistent. Choose one font and then use it throughout the poster. Add emphasis by using boldface, underlining, or color; italics are difficult to read.

Most of the information above is available online and from personal experience. The following 2 websites are also very useful:

  1. smsm says:

    nice steps amoor


  2. Random T. says:

    I follow your posts for quite a long time and must tell you that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

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