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Student Research & Innovation Poster Presentations  

Resources for students preparing poster presentations for College of the Rockies allied and community research projects and conferences.
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Introduction Print Page

About Poster Presentations

An effective poster operates on multiple levels, including:

  • source of information
  • conversation starter
  • advertisement of your work
  • summary of your work

An effective poster will help you engage colleagues and peers in conversation and get your main points across to as many people as possible in one location.

A Poster Uses Visual Grammar (from North Carolina University)

A poster is not just a standard research paper stuck to a board.

An effective poster uses a different, visual grammar.

  • It shows, not tells. It expresses your points in graphical terms.
  • It displays the essential content - the messages - in the title, main headings and graphics. It indicates the relative importance of elements graphically: each main point is stated in large type-face headings; details are subordinated visually, using smaller type-face. The main headings explain the points, rather than merely stating "results" and letting the viewer hunt for - or even worse, invent - the message
  • It avoids visual chaos, with many jagged edges or various-sized boards that distract the viewer. Instead, it guides the viewer by using a visual logic, with an hierarchical structure that emphasizes the main points.
  • All elements, even the figure legends, are visible from 4 feet away.

Undergraduate Posters

Pictured below is Karen Barker presenting her research poster in Edmonton at the International Congress for Conservation Biology meeting in 2010. 



Poster Preparation Overview

An effective poster is:

  • Focused on a single message
  • Uses graphs and images to tell the story; uses text sparingly
  • Keeps the story sequenced, well-ordered, and obvious


1. The title should invite the curiosity of the viewers. This should be stated concisely without loss of necessary information. The variables of the research should serve as keywords in the title. It should be big enough to allow easy viewing.

2. The name or names of authors should be smaller than the title.

3. The conference poster should generally follow the logic of a scientific paper, i.e., Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion or IMRAD format although the C or conclusion, while not included in the acronym, should be included.

    a. The introduction should present the problem as clearly and concisely as possible.

    b. The methods used, likewise, should be described in about 2 to 3 sentences

   c. The results section should make use of graphs and tables that summarize the main findings of the study; this occupies most of the tarpaulin space.

   d. The discussion should also be brief, making clear the main arguments arising out of the data presented and analyzed.

   e. The conference poster ends with the conclusion or conclusions usually stated at the right side of the poster.The literature cited should not distract the viewer from viewing the main content of the conference poster.

4. Use fonts that do not taper at the ends, say Helvetica or Arial. Avoid Times Roman or similar fonts.

5. It is pleasing to the eye to leave some free space all throughout the conference poster. This breaks off monotony or cramped content.

6. Design the conference poster in such a way that those things that are intended to be noticed are given attention. Use color to attract viewers.

7. Avoid presenting lots of details but just present the most interesting ones. Following these simple guidelines will make your conference poster a worthwhile stopover for researchers interested in your area of research interest.

Adapted from Patrick A. Regoniel 24 December 2010 7 Guidelines on How to Prepare a Conference Poster

Subject Guide

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Shane Neifer

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