Guidelines for Preparation of Effective Poster Presentations

Poster presentations provide more opportunities for direct discussion with interested viewers than do podium presentations. Because an oral presentation can be heard at one and only one time, whereas a poster presentation is available for several hours (symposia) and the entire day (contributed sessions) and its viewing can be tailored to fit individual schedules, the opportunities for reaching a large audience, receiving useful feedback, and discussing your research are as great or greater for a poster as an oral presentation. Good oral and poster presentations entail equal effort and importance and both should: (1) define the problem or state the central question being addressed; (2) indicate its importance; (3) tell what was done; (4) state what was found; and (5) consider the broader implications of the findings. Poster presentations are greatly enhanced by the use of good visual material that conveys the essential information including key points and research results. They allow the viewer to both read and see the results, which enhances understanding. To maximize the effectiveness of your poster, please consider the following.

Specific Suggestions:Dimensions: The maximum poster size is 3’10” or 116 centimeters (horizontal dimension) by 4’ or 120 centimeters (vertical dimension). Thus, two presenters will share the usual 8′ by 4′ poster board.  

Single page posters: Effective posters can be prepared using software such as PowerPoint and printed on a wide format printer. It is recommended that posters prepared in this manner be rolled with the text to the outside for transport. However, be careful to protect the ink from being scratched.  If you prepare your poster with a graphics program, the background of the poster should not make the text difficult to read. 

Organization: Make an initial sketch of your poster presentation, allocating space for Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Summary and Conclusion. Focus attention on a few important points. Try different styles of presentation to achieve clarity and simplicity. Graphs and diagrams provide a clearer statement of your research results than tables. Use limited text to convey the essential information concerning the problem under investigation, methods, results and salient concluding points.

Legibility: The title should be legible 8 feet (2.44 meters) away; viewers should be able to easily read the remaining words from 5 feet (1.5 meters) away. Poster legibility suffers greatly when the type you use is too small. The letter size should be at least 24 point, with >24 even better. Smaller point size is strongly discouraged. Headings (e.g., Materials, Methods, and Results) should be bold type. Heading letter size should be larger than the text (36 point or larger). Use short, informative (“headline” style) titles to state the essential point of each figure. Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. Use consistent type styles and letter sizes throughout. Some individuals have the misperception that posters are simply mounted papers (as though the author attaches a paper to a poster board). However, this is not the case. You will need to simplify the text of your paper to create an effective poster presentation. Avoid presenting lengthy bibliographies. These take up space and are distracting. The presenter might provide photocopies of figures and tables for distribution. 

Create a balance between figures, tables, and text: Figures and tables should occupy approximately half the viewing area. If you have only a few illustrations, make them large. Try to limit the amount of text in your poster to 1500–2000 words so that it can be read in fewer than 10 minutes.

Eye movement:  The pathway traveled by the eye should be natural, either top-to-bottom or left-to-right.

***Simplicity and Legibility are Keys to Effective Poster Presentations***