Research Poster Design Principles

Example Posters for Discussion

Evaluating Research Posters    

First impressions are important with research posters, as you want to grab a potential readers' attention: What your first impression of this poster? Is it attractive? Does it look interesting? Would you stop to read more if you found this poster on display among dozens of others? What draws your attention? If you think you would pass it by, please articulate why.

Now, in your group, please discuss the following areas. You need not address each and every question listed; use them as a guideline for your discussion. Have someone take notes to prepare to report to the whole class.

Navigation: What appears to be the path through the poster’s information, and how does it guide you?

Design: Pay attention to the use of color, line, space, and type.

Is the poster visually appealing?

Which design features appear be functional as well as aesthetic? (e.g., suggesting navigation, structure, emphasis)?

Content: How well does the poster communicate meaning?

What is the apparent aim of this poster?

Can you digest this level of information in about 5 minutes? Do you want more or less information?

Is the text written to be easily read in a noisy, crowded conference hall? Consider:

  • vocabulary
  • sentence syntax
  • bullet points, paragraphs, and white space

Images: Are they meaningful or decorative?

Charts, tables, graphs: Are they readable? Adequately labeled? Is significant information easy to identify? Would you suggest presenting information in another form?

Guides to research poster design

The Writing Center has collected a number of guides to poster design from other institutions.

In addition, here are a few tips from Kristen Greenland:

Tips for Effective Posters


You can print your poster at the campus print and mail services office in College Hall. 

Size Guidelines

The size of your poster is restricted by the capability of the printer.  A 36 in. x 48 in. poster will cost $28 to print on the SMudd large format printer.

Color Guidelines

Dark text on a light background is the easiest to read.  Make sure there is enough contrast between your text and background colors.  There are no restrictions on color use in your poster for the SMudd printer.

Image Guidelines

Use images that are at least 150 dpi (dots per inch); 220-300 dpi is ideal.

Images copied from the web are often very low resolution and will look blurry on your poster.
This website has tips on figuring out if your image will work on a poster.

Font Size Guidelines

It is important that your poster be easy to read from a distance of a few feet.  Use these font ranges as a guide:

  • Title: 90-120 pt or more
  • Headings: 36-48 pt
  • Text: 28-36 pt
  • Captions: 24-28 pt