How to Generate an Effective Poster

Tips for Effective Poster Presentations

Get your message across with effective visual displays of data and small blocks of supporting text.  Think of your poster as an illustrated abstract.

Tell readers why your work matters, what you did, what you found, and what you recommend.  This is significance, methods, results and conclusions and future directions.  Avoid excessive focus on methods – it’s the results and conclusions that count!

Overall appearance.  Use a pleasing arrangement of graphics, text, colors.  Your poster should be neat and uncluttered – use white space to help organize sections.  Balance the placement of text and figures. 

Organization.  Use headings to help readers find what they’re looking for: objective, results, conclusions, etc.  A columnar format helps traffic flow in a crowded poster session.

Minimize text – use graphics.  Keep text in blocks of no more than 50-75 words – don’t create large, monolithic paragraphs of prose.  Use ‘bullets’ instead of lengthy text.  Text size.  All text should be large enough to read from 1-2 meters, including the text in figures.  Title should be larger, to attract attention from far away. Sans serif fonts (arial) read easiest.

Use color cautiously.  Dark letters on light background are easiest to read.  Keep contrast high – don’t use pastels.  Stick to a theme of 2-3 colors, or perhaps only black and white.

Have your poster flow from top to bottom (first), then left to right.

Prepare a 3-5 minute verbal explanation. Some people will ask you to “walk me through your poster.”  In making such a presentation, don’t read the poster.  Instead, give the big picture, explain why the problem is important,  and use the graphics on your poster to illustrate and support your findings and recommendations.

Focus on relationships – exact values are usually not important.

Clean graphs show data clearly!  Eliminate “chart junk” to keep focus on data.  Grid lines, detailed ticks on axes, data markers, and grey background are not needed.   Label data lines directly, when possible.

Legends force reader to look back and forth to decode graph.  Try to have all the info you need on the figure itself and just have a title for the figure and no legend.  The figure title might best be the conclusion derived from the data.

Posters are tri-fold, 3′ high x 4′ wide.  

You can print out your figures and the text panels and use double-sided tape to attach.  The sheets here are standard 8.5″ x 11″

This is just a suggestion for organization. You should work with your mentor to realize a final presentation.