How to Make a Poster

symp-photo-sumaWhat is the purpose of a poster session?

The purpose of a poster session is to give conference attendees an opportunity to view lots of different research project descriptions in a short period of time. It’s also an opportunity for presenters to interact one-on-one with many different attendees, which allows for in-depth discussions and possible future contacts. Many researchers use poster sessions as an opportunity to get feedback on a project before publishing it. At a poster session, you will be promoting both yourself as well as your department, college, and university.  

What happens during a poster session at a conference?

A poster session typically consists of rows of posters either on freestanding poster boards or set up on tables using cardboard trifolds. Presenters stand next to their posters and attendees walk up and down the aisles, stopping at posters that interest them. Presenters should be ready to give a quick (2-3 minute) summary of their poster and should be ready to answer questions about the project.

Although not required, it is nice to have one-page copies of your poster to hand out to attendees. Alternately, you may create a sign-up sheet and email your poster to those who are interested.

What are the components of a conference poster?

A poster conveys your study on one big sheet of paper (usually 36" x 48"). The components vary depending on your discipline as well as the type of project, but here are some of the typical elements:

Title and Authors

  • Remember to use a big font that can be seen at a distance (70-80 point font at minimum)
  • The title is what often brings passers-by to your poster - make it descriptive and catchy

Institution

  • You can download the institutional logo instead of writing out "Kennesaw State University"
  • Be sure to follow the logo rules!
  • You can use an additional logo depicting you department or college if you have one.

Introduction/Background/Literature Review

  • Lead the reader into your particular study.
  • Include citations from past research.
  • How does your study make a unique contribution to the literature?
  • Present a research question or hypotheses.

Methodology

  • Who or what represents your sample? If you used people or animals, how many? Can you provide some information about your sample (e.g., demographic information like gender, age, etc.)?
  • What was the methodology and procedure of your study? Describe study materials such as survey questions, observations, interviews, etc. 

Results

  • What were the main results of your study?
  • Graphs and charts are more visually appealing than words.

Discussion/Conclusions

  • What is the main take-home message of your study?
  • Provide an explanation for the results.
  • Connect your results to past research on this topic.
  • What are the limitations of you research?
  • What are some future research ideas that stem from your study?
  • What are the implications/applications of your study for broader society?

References

  • Cite only the references you used in your poster, not everything you read over the course of doing your research.
  • Use the citation style for your discipline (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

Acknowledgements

  • In this section, cite individuals who aren't authors but who contributed in some way (if applicable). 
  • You should also acknowledge any financial help you received as part of this research (e.g., grants). 

Contact Information

  • Include your email on the poster so that if attendees have any questions, they can contact you.

What does an effective poster look like?

  • It has an eye-catching title
  • It is organized logically
  • It is concise (bullets and numbering are good) -- approximately 800 words maximum
  • It can be understood on its own without needing explanation from the author
  • It does not have any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors
  • It has big font:
    • Title: ~72-point font
    • Section Headers: ~60-point font
    • Text: At least 32-point font
    • Don’t forget the axes on graphs - that font needs to be big too. 
  • The font is consistent throughout the poster, easy to read (serif styles like Times New Roman), and professional (avoid comic sans!)
  • It contains high-resolution graphics (charts, photos, images). Images pulled from the Internet are often fuzzy when blown up on a poster (and may be copyrighted as well). 
  • It uses a clean, consistent layout with some white space available
  • It uses non-distracting colors and backgrounds (avoid a dark background, which uses an enormous amount of ink to print).

What should you do as a poster presenter?

  • Dress professionally. Business casual is usually fine, but check with your faculty supervisor regarding appropriate dress at the conference you're attending.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You'll likely be standing for the entire poster session (often 60-90 minutes). Also, there is typically a lot of walking at a conference. You don't want your feet to hurt the whole time!
  • At least one author should be near the poster during the allotted session.
  • Be on time, and take down your poster on time.
  • Smile and greet people as they approach your poster.
  • Let them take the lead (some people prefer to read; others prefer to talk to you).

How do I make and print my poster?

Print a PosterTypically, posters are created on one PowerPoint slide and enlarged using a poster printer.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) provides guidelines for making posters and a template you can use to get started. In addition, CETL will print academic research posters free of charge for faculty, graduate, and undergraduate researchers at Kennesaw State University. Please visit http://cetl.kennesaw.edu/faculty-poster-printing for more details. 

Resources

Here a few good online resources for making research posters:

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