Creating a Research Poster
The presentation below provides an introduction to designing and printing a research poster. The presentation is targeted towards students in the humanities and social sciences, but provides some general tips and best practices for research poster design for all disciplines. Special focus is placed on designing posters for MCUR's Undergraduate Research Day which is held annually in late April on the University of Maryland campus.
Designing a Humanities/Social Sciences Research Poster
(PDF of slides)
Resources for Creating a Research Poster
Adapted from the University of Nevada (Reno) Libraries Poster Resources and Design Tips
A Good Poster Will
- Summarize your work
- Convey a message visually
- Be readable from about 4 feet away
- Be clearly organized
Poster Design Tips
- Use large text (your text should be at least 18-24 pt.)
- Do not use more than 2-3 font styles total
- Use fonts that are easy to read
- Avoid too much text (no more than 800 words max)
- Organize your content with columns, sections, headings, and blocks of text
- Choose a title that illustrates what your poster is about. Your title should be at least twice the size of your regular text.
- Choose colors carefully and pay attention to contrast. If in doubt, dark print on light background is best.
- Selectively incorporate charts, graphs, photographs, and other graphics that support the theme of your poster
- Avoid fuzzy images; make sure all graphics are high-resolution and easily visible
- Include your name on your poster and the UMD logo
- Edit your poster carefully before the final print-out
Templates and Logos
- Office University of Maryland high-resolution logos for download
- Colin Purrington has some simple poster templates on his blog in both PowerPoint and Open Office Draw formats. This is also one of the best of the online research poster blogs.
- Free PowerPoint Poster Templates and More Free Templates
- LaTeX Templates (LaTeX, pronounced "Lay-tech," is a document-preparation software commonly used in STEM disciplines)
- PhD Posters
- Poster Design Templates, The Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication, Rice University
- Poster Genius, Sci-Gen Technologies (Can download free trial of software)
- Scientific Posters, Michael Alley, School of Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
- A step-by-step guide to creating an academic poster, Cornell University from the Haas Scholars website, University of California, Berkeley. This page has other downloadable PDFs on various topics related to undergraduate research.
- Check your academic department's website or undergraduate studies office or advisor—they may have some templates with the department/university logo available for students to use
Examples of Posters
Sample Humanities Poster by Elizabeth Tobey, "The Festival of St. John the Baptist in Renaissance Florence,"
36 x 48 inches, landscape layout
Poster Preparation Resources and Articles
- Advice on Designing Scientific Posters, Colin Purrington blog, Swarthmore College
- Academic Posters from Edinburgh Napier University
- The Basics of Poster Design from the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium
- Creating Anthropology Conference Posters: A Guide for Beginners by Jason E. Miller, MA and John K. Trainor, MS (University of South Florida), American Antropological Association
- Creating Effective Posters from North Carolina State University
- Build a Research Poster, Office of Undergraduate Research and Artistry, Colorado State University (click on link underneath How Do I Build a CURC Poster?)
- Poster Presentations - Designing Effective Posters, Fred Stoss, University of Buffalo Libraries
- “Effective Poster Design,” Alex Galvez, Teaching Support Services, University of Guelph.
- Erren TC, Bourne PE (2007) Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation. PLoS Comput Biol 3(5): e102. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030102
- Guidelines for Poster Presentations, Whitman College (useful section on image resolution)
- How to Make an Effective Poster by David Shelledy. Respiratory Care October 1, 2004 vol. 49 no. 10 1213-1216
- Poster and Presentation Resources, The Graduate School, University of North Carolina
- Poster Design Guide, The Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication, Rice University
- Poster Presentations, The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Poster Resources and Design Tips, University of Nevada, Reno
- Poster Sessions, The Writing Studio, Colorado State University
- Preparing a Poster Presentation from Northeastern University via the WebGuru
- Preparing and Delivering Presentations, Academic Support Services, Amherst College
Poster Preparation Online Tutorials, Workshop Slides, and Web Conferences
- Designing a Poster, online tutorial, University of Leicester (UK) (20-minute free online tutorial which takes you step-by-step through the process of poster design)
- InDesign CS5.5: Creating Poster Sessions, Mississippi State University Library (Step-by-step webcast on creating a poster in Adobe InDesign. InDesign is a popular design software)
- PowerPoint Slides from 2014 Poster Design workshop.
- So Your Poster Got Accepted-Now What?, Screencast presentation by Tracy Volz (Rice University), April 11, 2012, National Library of Medicine Training Center/National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The screencast has be taken down, but the handouts are still available:
Presenting your Poster
Check your Poster
- After you have created your poster, review it using the checklist created by the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium. Look for the link under Tips for designing your poster on the University of Washington Undergraduate Research Program site
- Poster Checklist, Tracy Volz, from "So Your Poster Got Accepted-Now What?," NLMTC/NNLM website
Print your Poster
- The Engineering Copy Center on campus prints posters (cost around $40) and has a 24-hour turnaround time.
- There are two posters printer on the 2nd floor of McKeldin Library in the Learning Commons. One of the printers can print out posters of the 36 x 48 inch dimensions that are required for Undergraduate Research Day (cost around $40).