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How to Create a Research Poster

Reproduced with the permission of the author Ingrid Redman of Bern Dibner Library of Science and Technology.

What is a Research Poster?

Posters are widely used in the academic community.  Research posters summarize information or research concisely and attractively to help publicize it and generate discussion. 

The poster is usually a mixture of a brief text mixed with tables, graphs, pictures, and other presentation formats. At a conference, the researcher stands by the poster display while other participants can come and view the presentation and interact with the author.

It typically contains the same components as an academic paper, but modified for the different medium. This means:

  • Less text
  • Shorter sentences
  • Bullets and graphics when possible
  • Don't forget your References section! (Even if it is in a small font)

What makes a good poster?

  • Important information should be readable from about 10 feet away
  • Title is short and draws interest
  • Word count of about 300 to 800 words
  • Text is clear and to the point
  • Use of bullets, numbering, and headlines make it easy to read
  • Effective use of graphics, color and fonts
  • Consistent and clean layout
  • Includes acknowledgments, your name and institutional affiliation

    Where do I begin?

    Answer these three questions:

    • What is the most important/ interesting/ astounding finding from my research project?
    • How can I visually share my research with conference attendees? Should I use charts, graphs, photos, images?
    • What kind of information can I convey during my talk that will complement my poster?

    What software can I use to make a poster?

    A popular, easy-to-use option. Available on all library computers. (More tips from the University of Alabama: Advice for creating a poster with PowerPoint).

    Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign:
    Feature-rich professional software that is good for posters including lots of high-resolution images, but they are more complex and expensive. The Adobe Creative Cloud 2017 package is available on the Macintosh computers in the Computer Commons (8), PLZ310 and MIW133.

    Open Source Alternatives:
    Canva is an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere. Free accounts are feature rich.
    Gliffy for charts and diagrams
    Inkscape and Gimp are alternatives to Adobe products. 

    A sample of a well designed poster

    effective poster

    Image credit: Poster Session Tips,

    A sample of a poorly designed poster

    ineffective poster

    Image credit: Better Posters