Tips for Designing a Poster Presentation

Creating a compelling poster presentation for a scientific meeting can be intimidating but doesn’t have to be. Planning ahead and reviewing the advice on this page will help to guarantee that your poster engages your audience, accurately presents your research, and is ready for the meeting.

Know Your Audience

When preparing your poster, think about how you can clearly communicate with and catch the attention of your audience. Is your research specific to people in your field (e.g. materials science, industrial physics), or can you broaden your audience to include people in similar or unrelated areas of science? Remember to use clear language and avoid jargon, so that all readers can understand, regardless of their expertise.

Don’t forget to work on your elevator pitch. Having a concise and compelling summary of your work that also explains the importance of your research can help you to catch your audience's attention. It also ensures that you're prepared when someone at the meeting asks you about your poster.

Give Your Poster a Clean Layout

The preferred poster presentation size for APS meetings is four feet by eight feet (4'x8'). However, poster dimensions for other scientific meetings may differ, be sure to check the specific meeting information. Remember to include:

  • an eye-catching title–use a seventy-two to one hundred (72-100) point font to make your title stand out;
  • names of all authors, plus their institutions;
  • section headings; and
  • plenty of visually interesting and relevant graphics.

For maximum readability:

  • choose a font size in the twenty-four to thirty-two (24-32) point range for the body text,
  • use bulleted lists instead of full paragraphs,
  • use a light background with dark letters,
  • pick one of the recommended fonts–Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, or Georgia are easy to read and widely available,
  • limit your fonts to two to three (2-3) colors, and
  • do not use background images underneath your text, as these will conflict visually with the text and make your poster more difficult to read.

What to Include on Your Poster:

  • Introduction: Your introduction should answer the question, Why is this problem important? Provide clear background to draw the reader's interest and give context.
  • Procedure: What methods, tools, and additional resources did you use for your project? Include images, tables, or charts when possible.
  • Graphics: Use high-resolution images, label all charts and graphs, and include a legend if necessary.
  • Results: In most cases, it is not necessary to include all of your raw data. Show the data analysis that is applicable and briefly describe your results. Remember to avoid jargon. Your results should be the most prominent feature in the layout of your poster.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion is your opportunity to remind readers of the importance/relevance of your work. Use two to four (2-4) bullet points to summarize your conclusion.
  • References: Remember to cite your work. Do not include titles.
    • Example: A. B. Smith, Phys. Rev. A 26, 107 (1982)
  • Acknowledgments: Take the time to thank your collaborators (those who are not co-authors) as well as your sources of funding. Don’t forget to mention travel grants.

Should You Include an Abstract on Your Poster?

For APS meetings, it is not necessary to include your abstract on the poster. However, if you have made significant changes from your initial submission, you may wish to include a brief summary.

Still finalizing your abstract? Review our tips for writing a title and abstract.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Make sure that everything is spelled correctly, and that your language is consistent. All co-authors should review and agree upon the content of the poster. Show your poster to friends both inside and outside of your department to make sure that your writing is clear. This is also a good way to practice answering questions about your work.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once your poster is ready, it’s time to start rehearsing your presentation. Get started by reading our guidelines for presenting your poster.

At the Meeting

Put your poster up in its designated location at least thirty (30) minutes prior to the start of the poster session and remove your poster immediately at the close of the session. Please note that AV is not allowed in poster sessions at the APS March and April meetings—posters should be designed using effective printed visuals. Your poster must correspond to the title and content of the abstract you submitted.

More Information about Poster Presentations:

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