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Designing an Effective Research Poster

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

Elements of an Effective Research Poster


Length of Sections:

  • Sections should concisely summarize the main points, using bullets when possible.  See "Content: What Should I Include" for guidelines on the length of each section.

Size of Text Boxes:

  • Text box edges should be aligned.
  • Text boxes should be separated by white space.
  • Text boxes should not be too wide (aim for 45-65 characters/line; no box should be more than 1/4 of your poster width).

Flow of Poster:

  • Text boxes should flow in a logical, easily recognizable pattern.

General Formatting

Background Color:

  • Background, if an image, should not be distracting.
  • Refrain from choosing a dark background color, which can distracting.
  • Best practice is to choose a lighter background and place darker text over it.

Use of Images:

  • Images should be used in a way that supports the text.
  • Refrain from placing logos to the left and right of your title; your title is what should stand out here. 

Use of Color:

  • Choose 2 to 3 colors to use for the entire poster.
  • Choose a color palette that is easy on the eyes.

Representing Data:

  • Data should be represented using appropriate charts or graphs.
  • Charts or graphs should be clearly formatted and easy to read.

Text Formatting

  • Try not to combine formatting elements for one piece of the text.  See how distracting this is? 
  • Align your text to the left instead of justifying it.  Justifying texts adds annoying spaces between words; while it looks nice from a distance, it makes text difficult to read.
  • Choose dark colored fonts over a lighter background.
  • Sans serif fonts are attractive and make good headers.  Serif fonts are easier to read and are useful for body text.