The general organization for a poster is similar to that of a research paper: Title, Introduction, Methods: Participants, Materials, Procedures, Results, Discussion/Conclusions/Summary, References/Bibliography. In-text referencing is common.
Remember, a poster is a visual medium (show & tell), so use pictures/graphics as much as practicable. For example, instead of describing a method verbally, one can use a timeline with labels. Do not overwhelm the reader with numbers and text. The poster should be readable form at least 4 feet away. The title should be legible from about 10 feet away.
The poster presentation should be able to ‘stand alone’, without further interpretation by the author. However, during a poster presentation the author is frequently present to answer questions and to "take the visitors through the project."
Layout is very important. Try organizing the poster into separate headings and organize the headings into 2 to 4 columns (three columns is typical). Let each section have a separate heading composed of a text box with a colored background.
The entire poster can have a colored background, but DO NOT make the background out of a highly saturated color (e.g., an extreme would be a black background with white lettering). If not a white background, use a faint, unsaturated color for a background (e.g., very pale gray, light yellow, or pale blue). Try to avoid highly saturated colors in other large areas of the paper.
CREATING YOUR POSTER
The simplest way to begin is by using our Radford University poster template.
Alternatively, you can:
- Open Microsoft PowerPoint, go into File > Page Setup and select your poster size. With few exceptions all posters to be displayed at our UG/G Forum should be 48 inches wide. We can go as wide as 60 inches for other venues. Posters will be printed on either 36” or 42” paper depending on the height of the poster. We are not currently able to print on paper that is taller than 42”. DO NOT change the size of your poster after you have put it together - this often causes printing errors.
- Leave a margin of about ¾” around the perimeter of the poster. That is, do not place graphics and text all the way to any edge of the PowerPoint slide.
- Prepare text and graphics in advance, if possible. Word files can be copied into text boxes on your poster.
- Use the INSERT > Picture option in PowerPoint to add images. Images should be high resolution graphics so that they do not pixelate when printed in this large format. Charts and figures from other applications (e.g., Excel, SPSS, SAS) can often be cut-and-pasted into the slide.
- Use the INSERT > Text Box option in PowerPoint to add text. When you add text to a text box you will likely need to set the font size. Avoid fancy fonts. Arial works well as it is highly readable from a distance. Font sizes should approximate the following:
- title: 65-72 point
- Author’s name(s) 50-60 point
- Author’s affiliation 40-48 point
- Section headings 40 point
- Type within a section 30-40 point
- Type within a graph or table caption (20-30 point)
- Type within a reference list (20-30 point)
- Type within the credit for printing (14 point)
- The Radford University logo [DOC] must appear prominently on your poster. If you have a co-author from another school you might use the Radford logo on one side of your Title Bar and the logo of the other school on the other side of your title bar. Not all logos off the internet are useful for poster displays. Check your poster at 100% scale to see if the logo can be enlarged as much as you desire.
See the Sidebar on this page for how and where to get your poster printed.
COMMON POSTER MISTAKES
- Do not first prepare separate slides and then transfer to a single PowerPoint slide.
- Do not prepare a poster from an existing PowerPoint presentation by simply copying each slice to the poster (this often results in printing errors).
- Do not place photographs into your slide without looking at them at 100% of their size. If they are fuzzy or highly pixelated at 100% then that is the way they will look when printed as a poster.
- Do not change the size of your poster after it is put together.
- Do Not use highly saturated, solid color for backgrounds or large areas of the poster. If they are necessary use very light, unsaturated colors (e.g., light gray, yellow, or blue).
*These guidelines are adapted from handouts developed by Drs. Bernd Kuennecke and Susan Woodward.