Composing Your Poster

Space Guidelines for Design

The poster display area will have bulletin boards to which you can tack your poster. The poster display boards are 4’ x 8’, and your poster must fit comfortably within that space. There are enough display boards to accommodate one poster per side of the board.

Most office supply stores (e.g., Office Max, Office Depot) with printing services can print posters from PowerPoint files, InDesign files, and other desktop publishing or presentation programs. Check with your campus’ Media Services or Print Services to see if they have similar options. Do not mount your poster on foam board. You’ll hang your poster on a bulletin board, so you need to be able to push thumbtacks through your poster.

Content Guidelines

Your poster should serve as a conversation starter about your research project. Therefore it needs enough information for readers to get a gist of your project, but you should be rhetorically strategic with detailed information. What details might be best displayed visually? What details can you provide through conversation with your audience members?

To spark conversation about your project, your poster should include:

  • Your project title
  • Your name and school
  • Your research mentor’s name and title
  • Your research question
  • Information about how your attempted to answer your question (methods)
  • Your results
  • The significance of those results – to you, to the field, or to other specific groups

Your poster also might include:

  • Pictures
  • Graphs
  • An explanation of your interest in the question
  • A statement of how the work relates to your major/interests/goals
  • Next Steps or ideas for future research
  • Acknowledgements of people who helped you

We’re happy to help you think about what content to include – and how to include it. Email Dr. Moore at with questions or to schedule a time for a phone/Skype conversation with one or more of us.

Design Strategies

Posters are most effective when they mix visuals and text, include plenty of white space, and guide the reader through the material with a logical organization. Here are some tips for planning your poster:

  1. Brainstorm what content you want to include in your presentation: What could be presented visually? What could you tell visitors (rather than showing them on the poster)? What needs to be in text?
  2. Sketch out your poster on a regular piece of paper. You don’t need to include all the text and visuals; instead, draw and label blocks to represent chunks of information. Experiment with different orientations for your poster. You’ll fine-tune the visual design later.
  3. When you have a general layout you like, start working on the detailed content. Draft your text and create your visuals. Give yourself time to revise and edit. We’d like to see a drafts of your poster content over the next few weeks; see the full schedule for drafts, feedback, and revisions below.
  4. Test the visual layout of your content. Spread out your text chunks and visuals on the floor. Can you read the text from a standing position or does it need to be larger? Ask a friend or roommate if the organization makes sense to them. Have them talk through how they read the materials and what questions they have. If the questions are things you could answer in conversation, great! If the questions reflect confusion about your project, you might need to revise.


“Infographic: Tips for Designing Better Research Posters” by Natalia Rodriguez

Creating Effective Poster Presentations” by George Hess, Kathryn Tosney, and Leon Liegel

The Basics of Poster Design” by the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

“Creating a Poster” by Michael Alley

Thank you, Eli Review, for your support of the CCCC Undergraduate Researcher Poster Session!