How to Create a Research Poster

  • Poster Basics
  • Design Tips
  • Logos & Images

What is a Research Poster?

Posters are widely used in the academic community, and most conferences include poster presentations in their program.  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.

What Makes a Good Poster?

A Sample of a Well Designed Poster

View this poster example in a web browser .  

Three column blue and white poster with graphs, data, and other information displayed.

Image credit: Poster Session Tips by [email protected], via Penn State

Where do I begin?

Answer these three questions:.

What software can I use to make a poster?

A popular, easy-to-use option. It is part of Microsoft Office package and is available on the library computers in rooms LC337 and LC336. ( 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.  NYU Faculty, Staff, and Students can access and download the Adobe Creative Suite .

Open Source Alternatives 

A Sample of a Poorly Designed Poster

View this bad poster example in a browser.

Poster marked up pointing out errors, of which there are many.

Image Credit: Critique by Better Posters

research article poster presentation

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How to prepare a scientific poster

A poster session from 2021 SPIE Optics + Photonics

Poster presentations at scientific conferences can provide early-career researchers with valuable opportunities to practice their communication skills, receive feedback on their research, and expand their network. “By discussing my work one-on-one with other researchers, [I’ve found] I can identify what worked well and what needs improvement,” says Aura Alonso-Rodríguez, a Ph.D. candidate in natural resources at the University of Vermont. “These conversations can also inspire new research ideas and can often lead to new collaborations.”

Yet, there are times when poster sessions don’t go as hoped. “I remember this one time that I worked for months on a poster—and only two people came to talk to me,” Alonso-Rodríguez recalls. “It was a bit disheartening.” She chalked up the lackluster turnout to the poster session’s placement at the end of the conference schedule, and she tried to focus on how valuable it was to prepare the poster in the first place. “Presenting that poster created the pressure that I needed to analyze my data and advance in my project. Through that experience, I learned that the work that goes into preparing a poster is just as valuable as the presentation itself.”

Crafting an effective poster presentation isn’t always straightforward. The best approach may depend on whether the conference is being held in person or virtually. Strategies and preferences also vary widely among scientists. So, Science Careers asked researchers in a range of disciplines and career stages to share their tips for making the most of presenting a poster at a conference, including any adjustments they’ve made for conferences held online. The responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

How much time and planning do you usually dedicate to preparing a poster?

Poster design typically requires 1 or 2 weeks for me. I first decide what findings I want people to focus on and what figures would help me convey that information. Then, with paper and pencil, I make three to four rough sketches of possible layouts. Once the backbone is set, I go digital and compose my poster, keeping everything black and white at first. My last step is adding the text and deciding the color palette for my poster.

—Martina Maritan, staff scientist in computational structural biology at the Scripps Research Institute and visual science communicator at 3D Protein Imaging

In total, I spend approximately 4 days to a maximum of 1.5 weeks full time to prepare a poster. I start by outlining the content and then making a quick template on paper of how the poster could look, keeping freedom for visual creativity. I then ask for advice from a colleague with visual design skills. I reserve at least a week for printing, to be sure everything is checked and can be reprinted if necessary.

— Mendy van der Vliet, r emote sensing scientist at VanderSat

I work backwards from the latest I need to have my poster ready by, taking into account how much time I need to print it. Many departments have their own printer, which can allow more flexibility. I can usually put together a poster within a day if it’s something I’ve presented before, by tweaking or adding new data. If you’re preparing your first poster, though, you will probably want to start at least a week or more in advance to ensure that you have enough time to get multiple rounds of feedback.

—Maxwell Shafer, postdoctoral fellow in evolutionary genetics and neurobiology at the University of Basel

I will always try to prepare at least a few weeks in advance. Conferences may have slightly different formatting guidelines, so it is important to check them and consider how much time you may need to reformat a poster if you’re repurposing a previous poster you created. With the move to digital conferences, make sure that you also give yourself enough time to properly navigate uploading portals.

—Jack Chan , Ph.D. candidate in cancer immunology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the University of Melbourne

Since I have to coordinate with collaborators and mentors, I usually start preparing the poster about 20 days before the conference starts so I have time for feedback.

—Luis Queme , research instructor in anesthesia at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

How do you select and structure your poster’s content?

The main sections I try to include in a poster are background, methods, results, and key takeaways. In these sections, I pick the aspects of my work that are directly linked with the research narrative I want to convey. If possible, I focus on answering one research question and include up to three main results. In a recent poster, I also decided to include the main goal and main findings in a separate section above the rest, to highlight these key messages as much as possible.


At the beginning of my science career, I thought I had to include as much data as possible and completely fill up all the available space on my poster. But then I learned that less is more! Now, I prioritize the findings I want to talk about, trying to include a maximum of three major topics and to keep the text as concise as possible. My posters are generally structured around a short intro, the results, and a brief conclusion, using titles that are self-explanatory and deliver a message.


I try to tailor my presentation to who will be attending the conference. If I expect the audience to be very interested in the scientific details, I will put more emphasis on explaining the background and showing my research steps. If the audience will be more interested in the applied side, then the visualization of the applications will become the main part of the poster. I will add the background and specifics about the methods at the end for those who want to know the nitty-gritty.

—van der Vliet

I don’t think a poster needs to follow the traditional paper structure—in fact, I think that can hinder poster design. I try to keep the text as brief as possible and use uncluttered figures to communicate one main finding and why is it interesting. I avoid tables of data at all costs, as it is difficult for visitors to quickly extract information from them.

—Joanna Ramasawmy, AtLAST scientist at the U.K. Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

I start by asking myself: 1. What narrowed-down topic am I presenting? 2. What are two to three important background knowledge items to contextualize the research? 3. What are my key findings? 4. What data back up these findings? Each of these questions will then be tackled in a separate section of the poster. I also add a small conclusion section, references (no more than six), and acknowledgements. 

—Marissa Clapson, postdoc in organometallic chemistry at the University of Windsor  and CEO of ChemEscape Consulting Inc.

I’ll pick the aspects of my data that are most relevant to my audience. Generally, I limit myself to around three figures, as it lends itself to a basic storytelling structure with a beginning, a middle, and an end. In my most recent posters, my results section did not contain any explanatory text beyond the figure legends, as I believe that the data should speak for itself. I also try to limit the number of variables that are presented in the figures so they are easier to interpret.


In the last couple of years, I’ve switched to the #betterposter format, which includes less content and has a more conversational tone. It has a single-sentence description of the conclusion that takes up almost half the total area of the poster. It’s significantly more readable and approachable than the typically dry poster titles. Then, I strive to use only three or four figures, with text explanations and captions to enhance and deepen the story.

— Seth Just, principal software engineer at Proteome Software Inc.

How do you go about constructing your poster? What tools and software do you use? 

I usually use the open-source software Scribus to make my poster. I start with a three-column grid, but I’m pretty flexible about this. Margins and white space are important, and so is the content hierarchy. The title should be clear, succinct, and by far the largest text on the poster. I make my research question and conclusion stand out, and I lay out the rest of the content in a way that is visually intuitive to follow in the correct order. I also spend a lot of time on typography. The right typesetting can turn a dense-looking wall of text into something much easier to read. And while my work doesn’t lend itself to nice pictures, a key plot or an infographic can be effective. There are lots of useful resources online with premade illustrations that you can also use with attribution, including the Noun Project and Bear in mind accessibility as much as possible by ensuring that plots use colorblind-friendly color schemes and that the text is legible.


I use vector graphics editors such as Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer to make my posters. PowerPoint or Google slides also work well in a pinch. Overall, you want the poster to be visually balanced while giving your data sufficient space. Instead of including an abstract, use the space you save to make your results big and clear. Make sure that the text and labels are legible for someone standing several feet away. Also make the entire poster easy to read by putting big numbers next to your sections to indicate the order in which your audience should read, and by using bullet-point introduction and conclusions.


I love to be creative and experiment with funky layouts. I decide on the layout based on my data—for example, I will design my poster around a cool visual or try to arrange the figures in an unconventional way to grab visitors’ attention. I make the important findings stand out by using a font that is big enough and easily readable. Over the years, I have used various 2D graphic software including Affinity Designer, Adobe Illustrator, Pixelmator, and Inkscape, depending on the licenses available at my institution. I like to use the website to choose my color palettes.

I use LaTeX for poster layout and Inkscape for drawings and graphics. I like to use bold text to emphasize key terms and drive the reader’s focus. And I spend a lot of time on the colors and shapes of my figures to ensure readability and consistency.

— Just

Do you have recommendations on how to find advice for preparing posters?

If you need layout ideas, do a simple search online for scientific posters. Also check with your supervisor to see if your institution has any templates you can or need to use, which may include logos and particular color schemes.

—Mangala Srinivas, professor in cell biology and immunology at Wageningen University & Research and chief scientific officer of Cenya Imaging

I’ve drawn heavily on my mentor and collaborators and would also recommend reading as much as you can about data visualization and the tools you’re using. For example, the Matplotlib library has some in-depth and well-written documentation about how to build effective graphics and use coloring. I also spend a lot of time looking for inspiration anywhere I can find it. Twitter’s #betterposter hashtag is a nice place to look. I also dig into conference proceedings, relevant papers, and even textbooks to see how you can design your poster to be attractive and emphasize the right things.

I find Zen Faulkes’s blog Better Posters so useful, with lots of advice, resources, and ideas about good academic poster design. Ellen Lupton’s book and website Thinking With Type are also great introductions to typography.

I usually take notes if I see a great poster out there and try to implement the idea myself.

— Queme

Workshops addressing how to make a presentation often have helpful tips that also apply to making posters. Your best resource though is your peers. Check what are the standards in your research group and discuss with others what they see as good poster design.


How do you advise maximizing interactions during the actual poster session?

I always like to open a conversation with “Would you like me to walk through the poster with you?” While this will allow you to highlight important data or findings, your excitement is what will really draw people in. Most often, viewers will simply ask you to expand on your data rather than trying to grill you on content. But make sure that you have an answer prepared in case you get questions about gaps in your research.

There are so many things that can make or break your poster. Some involve luck, like the location, day, and time, and who is around you. If you are close to a poster from a famous research group you will get more traffic, but the crowd may also overflow your “real estate” and make your poster more difficult to spot. Put all the chances on your side by optimizing the factors that you can control—making your design visually appealing, standing next to your poster, and including a QR code to either a preprint or your contact information if someone wants to know more.


Practice a 1- to 2-minute pitch until you feel comfortable. The poster and your pitch must be aimed at the audience that will be present. The clearer and more rational your poster layout, the easier it will then be for you to make a strong pitch.


In-person poster sessions can be intimidating—you do not know who is going to come and if they are going to ask difficult questions. So, in addition to practicing my speech, I go in with a mental preparation, reminding myself that I am not here to be judged, but to learn and to share my research. Then, to maximize my outreach, I sometimes print my poster on letter-sized sheets of paper to give visitors. I also include my email in case someone wants to get in touch later.

Don’t be afraid to pull in passers-by and initiate conversations! This is especially the case if you see someone whose feedback you know you want. Have a 2-minute, 5-minute, and 10-minute version of your presentation ready in case your audience doesn’t have much time, but still wants to know what you found.

Because my overall approach is to distill down the information in the poster to an absolute minimum, I always have data, findings, or ideas in my pocket for discussion. I also include a QR code on the poster that links to a web page with a more fleshed-out description and discussion of the project, with additional figures.


I find it helpful to ask my visitors how much background knowledge they have on my area of study so I can tailor my presentation. I try to maintain a conversational dialogue and stimulate questions related to where my project may go next or how they could contribute to my work. Above all, it is important to remember to be kind to your audience. Ensure it comes across that you truly value their knowledge, time, and attention.

Have you ever given an online poster presentation? If so, how did you adapt what you would have done for an in-person conference?

Actually, all my poster presentations have been virtual at this point! Mostly, I have used Gather, which allows users to upload posters as PDFs or high-quality images. The platform provides you with an avatar so you can walk around a virtual conference hall. It really takes some time to get used to; individual webcam streams of other delegates will spontaneously pop in and out of your screen as their avatars move in your direction. As Gather and other virtual platforms are used more over time, I believe that the virtual etiquette in these scenarios will become better defined, making interactions a little easier.

On Gather, I have found it helpful to “wander” virtually near my poster to initiate a video call with people when there wasn’t much activity. When interacting with viewers, it can also be a good idea to provide links to other work or organize a meeting time later to catch up on questions. Another online poster format that I have experience with is on Twitter. I uploaded my poster as a high-quality jpeg with a tweet to draw the audience in, and then in the comment section I added smaller images with a quick overview of the content. Twitter is fast paced during the online sessions so you want to be able to answer questions quickly to keep interest high. Finally, I have taken part in sessions that ask you to prepare a high-quality PDF poster and a 5-minute video explaining the contents that will be uploaded for viewing before the conference begins. You will then have a live question and answer session. Here, my advice is to highly promote your poster on Twitter to encourage people to come to your session and view the poster beforehand.

When I gave a virtual poster presentation over Zoom, I reduced text to the bare minimum, as it is more difficult to read everything through a screen. My research was about software developed in my lab, so I found it very effective to give live demos during my poster session, sharing my screen while I was using the software and walking my audience through what I was doing.

A virtual poster is challenging because space is more limited—everything on the poster must be visible and readable on tiny laptop screens. I ended up significantly reducing the amount of information I initially wanted to include to make the figures and diagrams bigger. I simplified the flow of the narrative and highlighted the research question and main findings at the top of the poster to ensure they were easily identified. I also used colors that would not be too bright or blinding on a computer screen.

Whenever I have done a virtual presentation, I made my posters very short and visual, and put lots of clickable links to relevant papers and extra information.

I recommend trying to be as flexible as the medium allows. Upload animated gifs or prerecorded presentations so that audience members can engage with your work when you’re not available to chat online. Then, during your presentation, engage as much as you can with your audience by checking in with them and asking questions. Don’t be afraid to pull up a complementary figure from your computer or share a browser window to talk about a preprint. Just make sure you clean up your desktop first.

I have done a few virtual presentations where I had to provide prerecorded talks. These are usually limited to 5 minutes, so it forces you to carefully select what you can say. I have also done some live presentations, and in these situations having technical difficulties can be a nightmare and very frustrating. Focus on what you can control. Make sure you have a good internet connection and that all your equipment is in order an hour before your presentation time so you can troubleshoot if needed.


As a visitor to a poster session, do you have any frustrations you have experienced that you’d like to warn others against? Any further advice?

Posters with too much text in small font sizes and obvious spelling errors are a put-off. Print your work on a normal printer before moving to a larger printer to double-check for typos. Also consider having a backup plan for printing in case the airline loses your poster tube. You might even want to print it at the destination site if time allows or on fabric so you can put it in your luggage.

The lack of a proper introduction on posters that have a very specific topic and a lot of specific jargon has frustrated me in the past. Make sure your poster is easy to understand.

— van der Vliet

Do not try to cram a paper into your poster. Too much information is, well, too much. Let your most impactful findings shine. You can fill in details while talking.

The most important thing for a successful poster presentation is being truly enthusiastic about what you present, and being approachable. If people can see your excitement, they get excited and curious, too.

One of my pet peeves as a poster visitor is that no one is present at the poster. You can have an amazing poster, but if you are not there to answer questions, it is not helpful. Or you’re present at your poster, but your friends are spending the whole time hanging out with you. Make sure you interact with viewers before your friends so that you can show your professionalism and interest in networking within the community.

Don’t be afraid to fail or to struggle with your presentation—this will only help you learn what works and what doesn’t!

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About the author, elisabeth pain.

Elisabeth Pain is contributing editor for Europe.

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Creating a Poster

What exactly is a poster presentation.

A poster presentation combines text and graphics to present your project in a way that is visually interesting and accessible. It allows you to display your work to a large group of other scholars and to talk to and receive feedback from interested viewers.

Poster sessions have been very common in the sciences for some time, and they have recently become more popular as forums for the presentation of research in other disciplines like the social sciences, service learning, the humanities, and the arts.

Poster presentation formats differ from discipline to discipline, but in every case, a poster should clearly articulate what you did, how you did it, why you did it, and what it contributes to your field and the larger field of human knowledge.

What goals should I keep in mind as I construct my poster?

Who will be viewing my poster?

The answer to this question depends upon the context in which you will be presenting your poster. If you are presenting at a conference in your field, your audience will likely contain mostly people who will be familiar with the basic concepts you’re working with, field-specific terminology, and the main debates facing your field and informing your research. This type of audience will probably most interested in clear, specific accounts of the what and the how of your project.

If you are presenting in a setting where some audience members may not be as familiar with your area of study, you will need to explain more about the specific debates that are current in your field and to define any technical terms you use. This audience will be less interested in the specific details and more interested in the what and why of your project—that is, your broader motivations for the project and its impact on their own lives.

How do I narrow my project and choose what to put on my poster?

Probably less than you would like! One of the biggest pitfalls of poster presentations is filling your poster with so much text that it overwhelms your viewers and makes it difficult for them to tell which points are the most important. Viewers should be able to skim the poster from several feet away and easily make out the most significant points.

The point of a poster is not to list every detail of your project. Rather, it should explain the value of your research project. To do this effectively, you will need to determine your take-home message. What is the single most important thing you want your audience to understand, believe, accept, or do after they see your poster?

Once you have an idea about what that take-home message is, support it by adding some details about what you did as part of your research, how you did it, why you did it, and what it contributes to your field and the larger field of human knowledge.

What kind of information should I include about what I did?

This is the raw material of your research: your research questions, a succinct statement of your project’s main argument (what you are trying to prove), and the evidence that supports that argument. In the sciences, the what of a project is often divided into its hypothesis and its data or results. In other disciplines, the what is made up of a claim or thesis statement and the evidence used to back it up.

Remember that your viewers won’t be able to process too much detailed evidence; it’s your job to narrow down this evidence so that you’re providing the big picture. Choose a few key pieces of evidence that most clearly illustrate your take-home message. Often a chart, graph, table, photo, or other figure can help you distill this information and communicate it quickly and easily.

What kind of information should I include about how I did it?

Include information about the process you followed as you conducted your project. Viewers will not have time to wade through too many technical details, so only your general approach is needed. Interested viewers can ask you for details.

What kind of information should I include about why I did it?

Give your audience an idea about your motivation for this project. What real-world problems or questions prompted you to undertake this project? What field-specific issues or debates influenced your thinking? What information is essential for your audience to be able to understand your project and its significance? In some disciplines, this information appears in the background or rationale section of a paper.

What kind of information should I include about its contribution ?

Help your audience to see what your project means for you and for them. How do your findings impact scholars in your field and members of the broader intellectual community? In the sciences, this information appears in the discussion section of a paper.

How will the wording of my ideas on my poster be different from my research paper?

In general, you will need to simplify your wording. Long, complex sentences are difficult for viewers to absorb and may cause them to move on to the next poster. Poster verbiage must be concise, precise, and straightforward. And it must avoid jargon. Here is an example:

Wording in a paper: This project sought to establish the ideal specifications for clinically useful wheelchair pressure mapping systems, and to use these specifications to influence the design of an innovative wheelchair pressure mapping system.

Wording on a poster:

Aims of study

Once I have decided what to include, how do I actually design my poster?

The effectiveness of your poster depends on how quickly and easily your audience can read and interpret it, so it’s best to make your poster visually striking. You only have a few seconds to grab attention as people wander past your poster; make the most of those seconds!

How are posters usually laid out?

In general, people expect information to flow left-to-right and top-to-bottom. Viewers are best able to absorb information from a poster with several columns that progress from left to right.

Even within these columns, however, there are certain places where viewers’ eyes naturally fall first and where they expect to find information.

Imagine your poster with an upside-down triangle centered from the top to the bottom. It is in this general area that people tend to look first and is often used for the title, results, and conclusions. Secondary and supporting information tend to fall to the sides, with the lower right having the more minor information such as acknowledgements (including funding), and personal contact information.

research article poster presentation

How much space should I devote to each section?

This will depend on the specifics of your project. In general, remember that how much space you devote to each idea suggests how important that section is. Make sure that you allot the most space to your most important points.

How much white space should I leave on my poster?

White space is helpful to your viewers; it delineates different sections, leads the eye from one point to the next, and keeps the poster from being visually overwhelming. In general, leave 10—30% of your poster as white space.

Should I use graphics?

Absolutely! Visual aids are one of the most effective ways to make your poster visually striking, and they are often a great way to communicate complex information straightforwardly and succinctly. If your project deals with lots of empirical data, your best bet will be a chart, graph, or table summarizing that data and illustrating how that data confirms your hypothesis.

If you don’t have empirical data, you may be able to incorporate photographs, illustrations, annotations, or other items that will pique your viewers’ interest, communicate your motivation, demonstrate why your project is particularly interesting or unique.

Don’t incorporate visual aids just for the sake of having a pretty picture on your poster. The visual aids should contribute to your overall message and convey some piece of information that your viewers wouldn’t otherwise get just from reading your poster’s text.

How can I make my poster easy to read?

There are a number of tricks you can use to aid readability and emphasize crucial ideas. In general:

For main points:

What is my role as the presenter of my poster?

When you are standing in front of your poster, you—and what you choose to say—are as important as the actual poster. Be ready to talk about your project, answer viewers’ questions, provide additional details about your project, and so on.

How should I prepare for my presentation?

Once your poster is finished, you should re-familiarize yourself with the larger project you’re presenting. Remind yourself about those details you ended up having to leave out of the poster, so that you will be able to bring them up in discussions with viewers. Then, practice, practice, practice!

Show your poster to advisors, professors, friends, and classmates before the day of the symposium to get a feel for how viewers might respond. Prepare a four- to five-minute overview of the project, where you walk these pre-viewers through the poster, drawing their attention to the most critical points and filling in interesting details as needed. Make note of the kinds of questions these pre-viewers have, and be ready to answer those questions. You might even consider making a supplemental handout that provides additional information or answers predictable questions.

How long should I let audience members look at the poster before engaging them in discussion?

Don’t feel as if you have to start talking to viewers the minute they stop in front of your poster. Give them a few moments to read and process the information. Once viewers have had time to acquaint themselves with your project, offer to guide them through the poster. Say something like “Hello. Thanks for stopping to view my poster. Would you like a guided tour of my project?” This kind of greeting often works better than simply asking “Do you have any questions?” because after only a few moments, viewers might not have had time to come up with questions, even though they are interested in hearing more about your project.

Should I read from my poster?

No! Make sure you are familiar enough with your poster that you can talk about it without looking at it. Use the poster as a visual aid, pointing to it when you need to draw viewers’ attention to a chart, photograph, or particularly interesting point.

Sample Posters

Click on the links below to open a PDF of each sample poster.

“Quantitative Analysis of Artifacts in Volumetric DSA: The Relative Contributions of Beam Hardening and Scatter to Vessel Dropout Behind Highly Attenuating Structures”  James R. Hermus, Timothy P. Szczykutowicz, Charles M. Strother, and Charles Mistretta

Departments of Medical Physics, Biomedical Engineering, and Radiology: University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Self-Care Interventions for the Management of Mouth Sores in Hematology Patients Receiving Chemotherapy” Stephanie L. Dinse and Catherine Cherwin

School of Nursing: University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Enhancing the Fluorescence of Wisconsin Infrared Phytofluor: Wi-Phy for Potential Use in Infrared Imaging”  Jerad J. Simmons and Katrina T. Forest

Department of Bacteriology: University of Wisconsin-Madison

research article poster presentation

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Preparing a Poster Presentation

Posters are a legitimate and popular presentation format for research and clinical vignettes. They efficiently communicate concepts and data to an audience using a combination of visuals and text. Most scientific meeting planners take advantage of the popularity and communication efficiency of poster presentations by scheduling more poster than oral presentations. Poster presentations allow the author to meet and speak informally with interested viewers, facilitating a greater exchange of ideas and networking opportunities than with oral presentations. Poster presentations often are the first opportunities for young investigators to present their work at important scientific meetings and preparatory for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Poster Production Timeline

In order to be successful, certain prerequisites must be met. First, you must have a desire to be scholastically effective and be willing to put the time into the design and production of the poster. Second, you need organizational skills. Like any other endeavor associated with deadlines, you must be able to deliver the product on time. Posters are associated with more deadlines than oral presentations, due to the necessary interaction with graphic artists, graphic production, and the needs of the meeting itself. Organizational skills are also needed to create a concise and logically structured graphic and text presentation of the research or vignette. In order to help you achieve these goals, this article addresses poster planning, production, and presentation. It may be helpful to create a poster production timeline .

Scientific posters should follow the IMRAD format (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) .

Clinical vignette posters generally have three components: Introduction, Case Description, and Discussion. A short Introduction typically describes the context of the case and explains its relevance and importance. When describing the case, follow the basic rules of medical communication by describing in sequence the history, physical examination, investigative studies, and patient's progress and outcome. The main purpose of the discussion is to review why decisions were made and to extract the lesson from the case. Be wary of boasting that your case is the "first" to describe a particular phenomenon, since even the most thorough searches often fail to reveal all instances of similar cases. Keep in mind that the best research and clinical vignette posters are those that make a small number of points (even just one) clearly and succinctly.

As you review your content, make decisions on what can be displayed pictorially. Posters that are mainly text discourage others from visiting and reviewing your work. Make your presentation as visual as possible; not only does it make your poster more appealing, but information can be transmitted more efficiently with a picture, figure, or graph. For example, information on patient demographics could be represented as a pie chart, frequencies of outcomes as bar graphs, and comparisons of means and statistical significance as tables. Clinical vignettes offer an excellent opportunity to display clinical photographs that illustrate important points of pattern recognition.

Finally, find out if you are required to be present during the poster session. Most scientific meetings schedule a period of time for the author to stand by the poster during the session. This enables you to answer questions about your work and, in some situations, is part of the judging process. Find out if and when this is scheduled.

A Few Tips on Poster Appearance:

Avoid clutter.

Limit your poster presentation to a few main ideas. It's better to present a few of your findings well than present all of your findings poorly. Arrange your poster components to read from left to right and top to bottom. Emphasize important points on the poster with lines, frames or boxes, and arrows.

Keep the lettering simple.

Use no more than three different font sizes; the largest for the poster title, second-largest for section titles, and smallest for text. For all lettering, use both upper- and lowercase letters. Words composed of all uppercase letters are difficult to read. The smallest font should be large enough so it is easily read from a distance of 3 to 5 feet (usually, 24-point font).

Keep the colors simple.

Too much color can be distracting, while too little color can be boring and lifeless. Use color mainly to highlight important elements.

You will need to decide how your poster will be constructed. Your budget and available graphic art resources will most likely influence this decision. At one end of the spectrum, you can inexpensively produce a poster with a graphics software package (such as PowerPoint) and a color printer. Your output will be limited to individual components that measure 8" × 11" to 11" × 17". These components will probably need to be mounted on a stiff backing, such as poster board or foam core, to effectively display them. At the other, more expensive end of the spectrum, you can work with the graphic arts department at your institution. They can use sophisticated software programs, such as Quark, to design and create a poster. The electronic version of the poster can be sent by e-mail to a printing or service bureau. Service bureaus produce a variety of visual products including posters, slides, signs, and limited print editions of books. They can print any size poster with all its component parts as a single unit usually within 24 to 48 hours. The cost of this service is difficult to estimate because it is dependent on a number of variables including poster size, use of color, resolution of the print (dpi, or dots per inch), whether it is laminated, or backed with foam core. A moderately priced poster may cost from $500 to $600. The staff in your graphic arts department can help you pick the options that are within your budget.

At the time of production, it is your responsibility to review the first draft, or copy, of the poster. This is your best chance to correct errors and make changes to improve the accuracy and visual attractiveness of the poster. Use the Poster Checklist  to aid your review. In addition, have a colleague help you proofread. It's a good idea to have someone unfamiliar with the research or case help you because he or she will quickly identify areas that are confusing or ambiguous. It's a good idea to have someone who is expert in spelling and grammar review the poster as well. As mentioned previously, schedule the proofreading early enough in the process so that you have time to make any corrections or changes prior to the meeting.

As you prepare to travel to the scientific meeting, consider the following tips:

This final section provides examples of what makes a poster effective. As you study the examples, note that they share similar characteristics:

Listed below are a number of important poster characteristics and examples illustrating those characteristics:


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  1. Poster Presentation

  2. The Ike Special


  4. Media Literacy


  1. Poster Basics

    What is a Research Poster? Posters are widely used in the academic community, and most conferences include poster presentations in their program. Research posters summarize information or research concisely and attractively to help publicize it and generate discussion.

  2. How to prepare a scientific poster

    Poster presentations at scientific conferences can provide early-career researchers with valuable opportunities to practice their communication skills, receive feedback on their research, and expand their network.

  3. Effective Poster Presentations

    2. What are the characteristics of a good poster session? a. One part billboard, one part research paper. i. Good posters, like billboards, should capture the interest of the potential audiencefrom a distance. ii. Make sure your poster is memorable. b. A poster should be self-sustaining i. The poster should be able to stand alone.

  4. Creating a Poster

    In general: Use a large font. Don’t make the text smaller in order to fit more onto the poster. Make sure that 95% of the text on your poster can be read from 4 feet away. If viewers can’t make out the text from a distance, they’re likely to walk away.

  5. Preparing a Poster Presentation

    Posters are a legitimate and popular presentation format for research and clinical vignettes. They efficiently communicate concepts and data to an audience using a combination of visuals and text.

  6. Creating conference posters: Structure, form and content

    This article provides an overview of the process of designing and creating academic posters. It will discuss tools and resources that will be of use to researchers who intend to submit an academic poster to a conference. Academic conference posters are a method of communicating academic research succinctly ( Gopal et al 2017 ).