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Designing an Effective Research Poster

This guide provides strategies and resources for designing a research poster.

Purpose of a Research Poster

Guiding all design decisions should be good understanding of the purpose of the finished product.  Research posters serve a different purpose than a research paper; as a result, they should look quite different!  Most likely, you have already written an abstract for your research paper - think of your poster as an illustrated abstract.

Research posters exist to:

  • Guide someone through the basics of your research
  • Supplement your 5-minute discussion about your research
  • Serve as a snapshot of your work, either to:
    • engage your audience in discussion, or
    • stand alone to explain your research, if you are not present

With this purpose in mind, they should:

  • Provide a short and informative title of your research
  • Give a brief introduction to your question, explaining its importance
  • Briefly describe your experimental approach
  • Graphically show the results of your experiment 
  • List published articles that are important for your research
  • Provide contact information and brief acknowledgements 

Remember, your poster is like a short story.  Keep it brief, and just describe the major points of your research.


Give your project a brief, descriptive title that conveys the issue and your experimental approach. (1-2 lines)


Just kidding!  Do not include an abstract.  Your research poster is your abstract.


Why is your topic interesting?  There must be a reason you chose to research this, so convey that to your audience.

Provide the following: (200 words)

  • Basic background information
  • Text placing your research within the context of the published literature in your field
  • Your hypothesis
  • Your experimental approach
  • Why your topic is important
  • A relevant photo or illustration

Materials and Methods

What experimental equipment and procedures did you use?  Briefly describe these.  This section is an excellent opportunity for graphical depictions of your process, like a figure or flow chart.

Provide the following: (200 words)

  • Experimental equipment and procedure
  • Relevant photos or diagrams of experimental design or object
  • Statistical analyses used
  • How the above allowed you to test hypothesis


This section will be your largest section, and should include both quantitative and qualitative information.

Provide the following: (250 words)

  • Did your experimental procedure work?
  • Provide qualitative and descriptive results to give a personal tone to your poster
  • Present data and data analysis that addresses your hypothesis
  • Provide supporting charts, images, or figures


Summarize the major result, or take-away message, of your research and reiterate whether your hypothesis was supported.  Convince the reader that your outcome was interesting and relevant. (200 words)

Literature Cited, Acknowledgments, and Further Information

Literature Cited: Cite the most important literature, carefully following your field's main citation style.

Acknowledgments:  Thank individuals who supported your research and organizations who funded your research.  Include logos here.

Further Information: Provide your contact information.