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How to Design an Effective Poster
If you are presenting a poster during Celebration of Student Research and Creativity, mark your calendar for one of the poster preparation workshops for ideas and guidelines on how to create a poster. While attendance is not required, these workshops are an important resource.  You can also stop by the office (FH 255) to see examples and for personalized assistance designing your poster.

Poster Template
Download the preferred PowerPoint Template 3x4ft.pptx.  Please note that these are not displayed on trifolds and do not have to be in this format. Students can use whatever creativity they want to display their project - please note, it is your responsiblity to ensure they will print on a 3x4 poster.

Scientific Research Poster Design

General Poster Design
Your message should be straight forward in a common and meaningful language.  Start thinking about how little of the content is needed to deliver the message effectively. Include as little content as possible yet make it complete.

Consider the audience.  During Celebration poster session, you will not have a captive audience.  Since the event is open to the entire University and general public, you will not only be sharing your ideas with individuals in your discipline. 
The use of jargon, abbreviations or symbols familiar to your discipline or locale should be limited to those that are meaningful for your poster.  The use of discipline specific language is appropriate if you are using this information to prepare a poster for a professional event limited to your discipline.


Your title should tell the "gist" of your research or creative project.  Should include concise and interesting language not more than 10 words or longer then two line.  Print size should be large enough for people to read that are standing in the next aisle over (ten feet away).

All elements
You should have enough information to answer the viewer's question and make them feel comfortable enough to ask you questions.  Complete sentences are not always necessary.  Charts, graphs, pictures and other graphic elements help draw attention.  Do not repeat information.  Remember, information is essential to achieve the purpose of the poster.

Think about where your eye goes first and how it travels in a circular motion to see all information on a poster.  You will need to achieve unity while at the same time be able to identify separate parts.  All your headings should be the same color, font and size.  

A brief overview of your findings may be helpful to handout to people as they pass your poster.  Handing out business cards or contact information may be helpful to get some feedback on your project or to answer the audience's questions even after Celebration has been finished.  Candy is always a helpful tool to bring an audience in to your project.

General Steps to Follow

  • Develop concept, including message, purpose and objective.
  • Think about composition configuration, including lines, color and other visual effects.
  • Arrange elements of the poster. 
  • Don't glue anything down or print out anything until you are 100% happy with it.
  • Print out a paper copy in 8x11 in. format to proofread your poster.
  • Make sure you spell check!
  • Solicit critiques.
  • Remember that people will make assumptions about your project based upon the appearance of your poster. While those assumptions may not be accurate, they nevertheless make lasting first impressions.Work carefully on your poster.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to create it, arrange it, and get it right. Make it look professional.
  • Enjoy the experience.

Printing - STEM and Education Departments

Posters may be submitted to CINSAM for printing on large premium matte paper in mid-March. Early submissions are greatly appreciated.  The last day to submit a CINSAM poster for printing is April 1, 2024. Posters submitted after this date may not be printed.

CINSAM will print the posters for projects in the CINSAM departments (see faculty sponsor department list below).

Please let CINSAM know that you are a Celebration student.  Use of PowerPoint is strongly recommended for poster creation although only PDF formats should be submitted for printing. In PowerPoint, set your page to 36" height and 48" width.  This helps to avoid distortion of images and text.

Files can be submitted by students from the Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physics/Geology/Engineering Technology, Mathematics & Statistics, Teacher Education or Computer Science departments to CINSAM.      

  • Once you have finalized your poster with your faculty sponsor, have her/him save it on the K drive “STEM Posters” folder.  Posters submitted via a flash-drive or email will not be accepted.
  • If you do not have a faculty research advisor at NKU but you are a major in one of the departments below (e.g. if you are presenting research conducted elsewhere), contact Tracy Kaeff directly at to get your poster into the STEM Posters folder.
  • File naming convention: ",faculty last name and first initial>-Celebration24-<Student last name and first initial>". For example, "PowersC-Celebration24-SmithJ.pdf"
  • Posters should be in PDF format set to 36” x 48”. All posters must be reviewed and checked for errors prior to submission. Once a poster is printed, reprints will not be offered unless the problem arises from the printing process. No other reprints are permitted.
  • Once the file is saved there, send a notification of submission to Tracy Kaeff (
  • Printed posters will be put in the SC 240 office suite for pickup.

Printing - All other departments

Use PowerPoint to create your poster. In PowerPoint, set your page to 36 inches for height and 48 inches for width. This helps to avoid distortion of images and text.

Files may be submitted by students from all departments except STEM for printing - if your faculty mentor is in a STEM discipline see above:

  • Create your poster in Power Point and save the file for submission in PDF format.
  • File naming convention: "Student last name and first initial>-Celebration24-". For example, "PowersC-Celebration24-SmithJ.pdf"
  • Submit via email to by April 1st at 4:30pm. Submissions after this time may not be printed.
  • All submissions must be in final format because we will only cover the cost of printing one poster.
  • Finished posters can be picked up in the SC 240 office suite.