Creating a Research Poster

Posters are presented at many conferences and are a great way to disseminate your research. A well designed poster provides a concise, easy to follow and attractive snapshot of your work. It will encourage the reader to want to learn more. Avoid long textual passages and use graphs and diagrams as much as possible. Arrange materials in columns rather than in rows so that viewers can move to the right as they finish reading each column. Focus your attention on a few key points that follows the main headings in your abstract typically Purpose, Methods, Results, and Conclusion and don’t forget Acknowledgments and your Contact Information.

The instructions and templates for creating a poster at CPC can be found at our intranet site (access limited to CPC):

Think of your poster as a billboard with supporting text.

The following guidelines can help to ensure a successful poster:

Determine your poster size from the conference specifications (most conference websites or acceptance correspondence provide display area size). For this example, the poster display area is 4' high by 8' wide. We usually set up our PowerPoint templates at 50% of the final printed size since our CPC large format printer is limited to 42" wide paper and the templates created in PowerPoint are limited to a maximum of 56" page size. Posters are printed proportionally, to fit into the allotted space. In this case, the actual poster would be created in PowerPoint 21" x 45" and printed at 200% = 42" wide by 90" long. Since the display area is 48 x 96 the printed poster will have a 3" margin on all sides to the edge of the display area. It is always a good idea to leave space between your poster and the edge of the display area. Poster sizes and shapes vary, so always check the conference specifications. Some smaller poster sizes are set up at 100% of printed size if the width or height is less than 42".

 Starting with a template:

  • change your color scheme, if desired
  • replace text in the text box placeholders or create new text boxes
  • insert maps, tables, graphs, or photos with the insert icons or insert menu options
  • replace the data in the sample charts and reformat the charts
  • create new charts and graphs as you would in any other PowerPoint presentation

Poster components can also be created in other presentation, graphic, or word processing software and pasted into the template. Graphs should be created as PowerPoint charts and data can be entered, imported, or pasted from other programs. Hard copy photos and images can be scanned, downloaded from photo archives, or imported from digital cameras as .tif, .jpg, .png, .wmf, or .eps files and added to the template via the insert picture menu option. Avoid downloaded web graphics that are low resolution and result in blurred objects when printed. All components (figures, fonts...) will be 50% of the printed poster. Tip: to see how an image will look when printed, magnify the template to 200%.

The template has placeholders enabling you to see the amount of content that the poster should have. Remember all components are 50% of the final print. Sample sizes: title size 72pt = 144pt final, text heading 24pt=48pt final, body text 16pt=32pt final. Paragraph widths of 6”=12” final. Graphs 6” wide=12” final. These are just suggested sizes. You may want some components to be larger for emphasis or smaller for footnotes, acknowledgments, etc.

Bright contrasting colors should be used because the poster will be printed on white paper. If you are creating your poster at CPC, Denise Ammons will help you with resizing your work, supply sample color schemes, and adjust any colors for optimum output. Your main concern is producing representative figures/graphics (pies, bubbles, bars, lines, scatters, flow charts, photos, illustrations, etc.) with descriptive titles that illustrate your findings. Tip: We do not use solid backgrounds due to tracking marks and the large amount of toner consumed.

Traditionally, the introduction and methods start in the upper left hand corner and any figures and/or graphics follow. Figures and graphics should follow a logical layout to tell your story. As stated above, figures should use descriptive titles so the viewer can easily understand the meaning of that particular result while viewing any part of the poster. Move, format, align poster components to finish your poster. Proof everything carefully before sending to print. You are responsible for all content.

You may consider having extra copies of your abstract or any other key figures as handouts.

If this is your first poster or you are proposing a unique layout, contact us or stop by our office in 123 W. Franklin St. 2165G to discuss your poster.

Remember to balance your poster and have your important points stand out.

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