Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Creating Scholarly Posters in PowerPoint: Design Tips

Overall Comments

A poster is a visual presentation - you need a good paring of text and graphics that support each other.

Use visual illustrations of your research - as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Readability is the key. Large font is necessary (so brevity is a must).

  • Font:  Sans Serif - aka: no fancy letters with designs on the ends of letters.

Your layout should help guide people in how to read your poster.

  • Have a logical arrangement for how Americans read -- left to right, up to down.

Your poster is a large document, but it is composed of small bits of information .  It is difficult to read a long line of text.

  • Breakdown your text into small sections that are easy to visually scan.

 

Using Color in Your Poster

Use of colored background and colored text boxes

  • Muted colors or grays are best for the background.  
  • Use more intense colors as borders or for emphasis - but don't overuse color, it is distracting
  • Use of related background colors help to unify the poster

Planning it Out

Planning out your poster is a must.  

  • Explore other posters
  • Make a sketch of your expected layout
  • Arrange the contents in a series of 3 or 4 columns
  • Plan the flow of information in a logical, easy to follow sequence
  • Look critically at the layout.  "Experts" suggest the following is a good balance.
    • 20 - 25% text
    • 40 - 45% graphics
    • 20 - 30% empty space.
  • Plan your photos, figures, and tables to help tell your story
  • Design your poster to address one central question and state it clearly.  

A Head Start

Head Starts for Poster Designs  

Not sure how to begin or what colors to choose?  Poster templates are available for free from a couple of different sources.  Use those to get a head start on your design.

Title

Notes about Title:

  • Not ALL CAPS
  • Describe your project but make it short - use only essential words.  It is okay use humor to capture attention 

Text

Writing advice:

  • Use active voice when writing the text
  • Use short sentences, simple words, and bullets to illustrate discrete points.
  • Use left justification of text - not full justification
  • Size of text -- it should be large enough to be read from 6 feet away
  • Edit ruthlessly!  There is almost always too much text in a poster
  • Delete all redundant references & filler phrases
  • A poster is not a manuscript - no extra details about methods or huge data tables.  They are good dicussion topics for those stopping by, for a handout, or for a formal manuscript

Illustrations

The success of a poster is related to the clarity of its text, illustrations, and data.

  • Graphics should be self-explanatory
  • Text should supplement the graphic material
  • Use empty space between poster elements to differentiate and accentuate these elements.
  • Graphic materials should be visible easily from a minimum distance of 6 feet
  • Restrained use of 2 - 3 colors for emphasis is valuable; overuse is not