Research Poster Tips

These tips are provided by the Center for Research Development and Scholarship (CRDS) and the FNIC Informatics Graphics Department. Should you need assistance with development of a research poster please contact VUSN-Development@vanderbilt.edu for a team member who can assist.

Research Poster Best Practices

WHAT IS MY MESSAGE?

  • You must be able to state your main point(s) succinctly
  • All visuals and text should relate to those points
  • Abstract can serve as an outline for your poster, i.e., an illustrated abstract
  • Determine specific size requirements; how things will be organized/displayed: on easels, on corkboard with pushpins, tri-fold board displayed on table, etc.

CREATING YOUR POSTER

  • Place key sections - objectives, results, etc.
  • Balance the placement of text and graphics
  • Use white space creatively to define flow of information
  • Don't fight "reader gravity" that pulls eye from top to bottom, left to right (Wheildon 1995).

GRAPHICS

  • Graphs communicate relationships quickly
  • Graphs should be simple and clean
  • Stick to simple 2-D line graphs, bar charts, and pie charts
  • Follow text guidelines for graphs
  • Use photos that help deliver your message. If a photo doesn’t deliver a message don’t use it
  • Use graphics minimally to attract attention

TEXT

  • Minimize text - use easy to interpret visual graphics instead
  • Keep text elements to 50 words or less.
  • Use phrases (rather than full sentences)
  • Use advanced organization
  • Don't make fonts too large or too small. A general guideline for large research posters (4' x 8'):
     — Headline font size: 80-150 pts
     — Sub-Headline font size: 56-72 pts
     — Body font size: 32-36 pts

COLORS

  • Use a light color background - dark letters for contrast
  • Avoid dark backgrounds with light letters in a large area
  • Stick to a theme of 2-3 colors

SOFTWARE TOOLS

 NOTE: Microsoft Publisher is NOT recommended if you plan to have your poster created/printed with the VUSN Frist Informatics Graphics Department.

EDIT & EVALUATE

  • Edit to reduce text
  • If it is not relevant to your message, remove it. Remember: If in doubt, leave it out
  • Ask colleagues for comment on drafts — invite them to critique
  • Evaluate your work:
     — Are your objective and main message obvious?
  • Leave time for friendly review and editing

HANDOUTS/CONTACT INFORMATION

  • Determine if handouts are allowed: prepare per conference guidelines
  • Plan where you will place contact cards/business cards for people who wish to talk with you at a later time

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Bring sturdy, clear push pins. These are often not provided. Miscellaneous colored pins detract from the professional quality of your poster
  • Check current airline rules regarding the handling of your poster as luggage, or check rules regarding conference poster shipment guidelines. Most poster carriers will not meet carry on restrictions
  • If appropriate to the conference, bring additional VUSN program materials. As you stand near your poster, you may be asked for these
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Look upon the experience as one of the most pleasant, low pressure ways to present your work and meet colleagues who may further your work

3 IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER

An effective poster is:

  1. Focused on a single message
  2. Use of easy to interpret visual graphics will help tell the story and uses less text
  3. Keep the sequence well-ordered and obvious

 

Poster Templates and Graphic Design Resources

 

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