Scholarly Posters: Planning the Poster

A guide to designing and presenting scholarly posters

Planning and Design

If you’ve done the research and written it up, it may seem like a simple thing to cut and paste your findings and, voilà, you have a poster!  However, regardless of the field or discipline, creating an effective poster requires following some general steps in planning and design.  


Plan the content—What is your message? What are the key points you want the viewer to come away with? What are the resources you’ll use to make those points? How will you attract your audience and keep their attention?


Design the poster—What would work best as text and what would work best as graphics? How should you lay out / format the design? What organization will work best visually? What colors and fonts will enhance the visual impact?


Edit and test and the content and layout—Proofread the poster for spelling, grammar, readability, etc. Have someone else read the poster and relate back what they have learned.




The Better Posters blog is devoted to posters and offers a lot of constructive criticism for those who have submitted them.

How to Make a Great Poster  Describes the characteristics of a great poster, ways to create a poster, how to begin, poster layout, font choice and colors and traditional paste-up poster assembly. From the American Society of Plant Biologists.


Designing Conference Posters   An excellent overview of the whole process through the actual presentation at a a conference.


The Basics of Poster Design  A presentation useful for all disciplines. 


Tips on Poster Presentations at Professional Conferences  Covers everything you'll need to know.


Designing and Communications for a Poster Fair is a very clear, easy to read and understand guide developed by Pennsylvania State University for the McNairs Scholar Program.

Constructive Criticism

"Pimp My Poster" Flickr Group
You can upload your poster to this group and get feedback on your design.



A “how-to” guide in preparing abstracts and poster presentations. Boullata JL, Mancuso CE. Nutr Clin Pract. 1997 Dec;2296):641. 

Preparing and presenting effective research posters. Miller JR, Bloustein EJ. Health Serv Res. 2007 Jan;42(1):311-28.  

A practical guide to designing a poster for presentation. Briggs DJ. Nurs Stand. 2009 Apr 29;23(34):35-9. 

Ten steps to successful poster presentation. Hardicre J. Devitt P, Coad J. Br J Nurs. 2007 Apr 12;16(7):398-401.


Ten simple rules for a good Poster Presentation. Erren TC, Bourne PE. PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 May;3(5):e102.  



Examples of Scholarly Posters University of Texas Undergraduate Research poster examples with critiques.

Better Posters Blog  “Great blog with constantly updated resources.” - The Scientist magazine


How to Design a Poster Presentation  This (silent) video demonstrates the complete creation of a research poster. It shows all the steps involved in the creation of the poster, from the insertion of the title to the references section.  Detailed instructions for each step are provided in separate videos.

Poster Design Basics: Quick Tips 
Some tips from Boise State University.