How to Design a Poster for Presentation

A poster session is a visual presentation of a research study or project, highlighted and mounted on posterboard that is displayed on a flat wall area and presents the information in a summarized format. Table clinics are very similar to poster sessions, except that the visual presentation is typically a portable, free-standing, 3-panel, folding table display. Both poster sessions and table clinics provide an opportunity for viewers to talk with the author.

The format is usually determined by the organization that is hosting the conference. These guidelines may also affect the design of your poster session. This can include the allotted space and type of display space. Check with the organization or the conference sponsors for specific size requirements.

A standard format is listed below:

  • Title Board
    • Program number
    • Title
    • Authors’ names
    • Presenter’s photo
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Discussion
  • Results
  • Conclusions

The Three Most Important Steps to a Good Poster Presentation

1) Start early. Most difficulties in time, expense and quality come from waiting until the last minute. Allow two months to produce and effective poster.

2) Present major points and few details. Readers don’t expect a lot of detail, documentation, and discussion in a poster session. The content should be a visual guideline for a 5 to 10-minute presentation.

3)Use graphics instead of words where possible. One picture is worth a thousand words!

Think in Pictures, Write in Pictures

Use the following instead of words/sentences to present a lot of information in very little space:

  • Summary tables Flow charts
  • Drawings
  • Lists
  • Graphs
  • Diagrams
  • Symbols
  • Photographs

Design and Readability

In preparing your poster or table clinic, you will need to plan how to arrange your visuals so they are effective and esthetic. Try making a detailed plan on graph paper to use as a pattern during the assembly and construction of your exhibit

  • Design your material to read from left to right and from top to bottom. Try to balance the visual weight.
  • Where possible, use words or phrases set off by bullets instead of full sentences.
  • Use indented paragraphs. Our vision has been conditioned to pick up an indented paragraph as the beginning of a new area.
  • Use headings and subheadings. Boldface and underlined heading do two things: 1) guide the reader and 2) condense information.
  • Choose readable lettering for the text. The lettering should be large enough to be read from 4 feet away. Use the same letter style on the entire exhibit.
  • Use color. It can emphasize major points, show differences and indicate changes.