Effective Poster Design

creating a poster to effectively convey content


  • Academic posters are utilized as a method of promotion and explanation for research
  • They are most commonly intended for use as a complement to another presentation of your research, such as...
    • an academic talk
    • a scientific paper
    • a publication
  • Of lesser importance than the material they are supplementing, hence their serving more of an introductory purpose

Poster Sessions

  • Juried presentation of research
  • The jury is typically comprised of persons from various research teams with an academic or professional focus
  • Poster sessions are an expected element of most scientific conferences, wherein one finds a dedicated zone for this function
  • As far as scheduling goes, one will often find that each project is presented in as short as 10 minutes, or as long as a few hours.
  • Poster session zones often look the same, regardless of the particular conference, in that they usually consist of portable walls, upon which the posters are affixed; the researcher(s) stand next to their respective posters, answering questions
  • postersession1.jpg


  • Stay visual, avoid dense amounts of text
  • Use a large typeface
  • According to the University of North Carolina,
    • An effective poster is:
      • Focused >>> on a single message
      • Graphic >>> lets graphs and images tell the story; uses text sparingly
      • Ordered >>> keeps the sequence well-ordered and obvious
    • An effective poster will help you:
      • engage colleagues in conversation
      • get your main point(s) across to as many people as possible
    • An effective poster operates on multiple levels:
      • source of information
      • conversation starter
      • advertisement of your work
      • summary of your work
    • "A penny for the thought" regarding effective posters:
      • An effective poster is not just a standard research paper stuck to a board. A poster uses a different, visual grammar. It shows, not tells.
      • Are your posters attracting large audiences, or are your posters examined only by your most avid competitors or admirers?
    • An ineffective poster is often marked by one or more of the following traits:
      • objective(s) and main point(s) hard to find
      • text too small
      • poor graphics
      • poor organization