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Workshop Series

Modules for 2017-2018 workshops

Getting started

What is a research poster?

Research posters are widely used in the academic community, and most conferences include a poster session. In a poster session, the author stands next to their poster and talks with attendees. They answer questions and discuss research methodology, results, and future directions.

What makes a good poster?

  • Title is short and draws interest
  • Word count of about 300-800 words
  • Writing is clear and concise
  • Effective use of bullets, numbering, and headings make it easy to read
  • Appropriate images, tables, and charts to summarize results
  • Size, layout, and colors are eye-catching, not distracting or hard to read

What makes a good presentation?

  • Check and double-check the conference requirements 
  • Know your topic! 
  • Prepare talking points and anticipate questions
  • Dress professionally
  • Speak clearly and use eye contact
  • Coordinate with your group members on presenting research and answering questions

How do I make a research poster?

  • PowerPoint: A popular, easy-to-use option. Available on all library computers. 
  • Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign: Professional design software with loads of features. Available in the Library Tech Rooms
  • Open Office: OpenOffice's Impress is a free alternative to PowerPoint.
  • Gimp and Inkscape are similar to Adobe products. 

Planning a poster presentation

1. Read the submission instructions carefully.

Review the guidelines for poster content as well as size. 

2. Create a text-only outline. 

Posters should contain only 300-800 words total (not counting your works cited). Some sections may only be one or two sentences; this is OK. Use bullet points, tables, and graphs to convey information when you can. Avoid long paragraphs. 

3. Design your poster.

Using a poster template or starting from scratch, create your poster presentation. Add in images and graphs. Follow the style guidelines on fonts and colors. 

4. Print your poster.

Print and copy centers can print your poster in a variety of sizes and materials. It can take time, especially if they are backlogged, so plan for delays.


Readers are used to scanning columns from left to right. Keep your content organized in clearly delineated columns to follow natural eye movements. 


  • Avoid using more than 2 fonts in your poster. 
  • Be consistent. All of your paragraphs should be in the same font, as should all of your headings. 
  • Avoid gimmicky and hard-to-read fonts.
  • Size your fonts correctly. Fonts that are too small will not draw readers. Fonts that are too large limit how much information you can fit on the poster. 

Title area:

  • Poster title: 90-100 pt. font
  • Author and affiliation: 60-100 pt.
  • Contact information: 48 pt.


  • Headings: 48 pt. 
  • Paragraphs and bullets: 36 pt.
  • Captions: 12-24 pt. 


To determine whether comic sans is ever appropriate for academic writing. 


  • Conduct anonymous survey of faculty, staff, and students
  • Analyze sample papers
  • Graph results


For your color scheme, stick to basics: light background, dark text, and one or two accent colors used sparingly. Avoid bright or patterned backgrounds or brightly colored text. If using an all-white background, box borders and lines can break up text and guide the reader.

Creating a poster in PowerPoint

You can create a poster using a slide in PowerPoint. You must start by resizing the slide to match your print requirements.  


Open the Design menu. Click on Slide Size and select Custom slide size. Change the slide width and height to poster specifications (standard poster size: 48 inches wide x 36 inches high). Keep a one-inch margin on all sides.

Adding text

Open the Insert menu and click Text Box. Click and drag to draw a new box. Start typing to enter text. 

Adding images

Open the Insert menu and click Pictures. Select the image you want to add. Remember that images copied from the web are low-resolution (72 dpi) and will look very fuzzy when printed on a poster. Your images must be at least 150 dpi to render clearly. 

Adding charts

You can copy and paste charts from Excel to PowerPoint.

Exporting for printing

Save your PowerPoint as a PDF file. You can save this file on a USB drive and take it to any print or copy shop for printing.

Templates and examples