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Guidelines for poster design

Design and content guidelines for good poster creation

Many scientific posters can be over complex in design and content. To help with this some suggestions on simplifying design and content can be found below.

A poster should describe the abstract, and not repeat it. It should inform people of the work, but not necessarily detail everything. As a summary, the poster should attract people to take the time to look at it, and might encourage the viewer to want to investigate further, or ask questions.

Like other types of academic writing the poster should be well organised with clear headings and subheadings. The most effective academic posters provide a discernible reading order with a clear sequence of information. Write down the key points in a logical order and use this to arrange the poster.

Content and design

The most common mistake is to make the poster too wordy. Consider how to summarise text and provide key points rather than long sentences. Keep messages succinct and use one font throughout the poster. Do not use block capitals for anything except acronyms or headlines as it is difficult to read.

A busy and cramped poster is hard to read and too complex to take in. Consider the use of white space around text and images for higher impact.
Images will enhance the poster design. They attract a viewer, and are more effective than text alone. Make sure that any graphics or photos are of a good enough size and resolution to be printed at A0 size without pixelating.

When using graphs, figures and legends, follow the font size guidelines. Consider which figures and information are relevant to the poster before including everything. Sometimes, not every element of the chart is necessary for a poster, but just the salient parts.

For graphs, graphics and photos, ensure they are large enough that when viewed from a comfortable distance they would remain legible. Before the poster is printed, check that at 100% magnification, all fonts, images and photos still look sharp and clear.

In summary

  • Share key points of value
  • Summarise the abstract to be compelling
  • Consider and include space
  • Present findings and results clearly and visibly
  • Use images which are a minimum of 300dpi
  • Limit text on graphs
  • Ensure the poster design follows a logical order of content

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