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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.  

Poster Template

Download the preferred PowerPoint Template 3x4ft.pptx.

STEM Poster Design - ScientificPosterBasics.pdf

General Poster Design

Your message should be straightforward 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.

Title - 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.

Rule of thirds.  The tri-fold posters are already broken down into three separate sections; use the different sections to your advantage.  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.

Additional Materials
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.