Tips for Poster Development

These are general tips for how to make a great poster. Specifics on poster dimensions and when you should plan to stand by your poster can be found at the main Instructions For Presenters page.

  • The title, author(s) and institution are to be prominently displayed across the top of the poster with lettering height greater than 1 inch (2.5cm).
  • Poster displays may include an Abstract (in the upper left corner) and should include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, References, and/or Acknowledgements (Note: Discussion and Conclusion can be combined into a single section).
  • Include and arrange your material so a coherent and straight-forward story is told without your presence. Emphasize the most important points and avoid overwhelming the viewer with too much detail. This is important as your poster will be displayed for the entire conference, not just your session. Specific recommendations for each section include:
    • Introduction: briefly summarize the necessary background that led to this work, clearly identify the purpose of specific aims of the present study, and identify the questions asked or hypothesis(es) tested.
    • Methods: Provide sufficient detail, including the number and necessary demographics of the human or animal subjects studied.
    • Results: Can be effectively presented by table, figure, illustration and/or photograph. Make each stand on its own so the viewer doesn’t have to refer elsewhere on the display to understand the important message(s). For each table, figure, etc., a clear interpretive legend will go a long way in highlighting and explaining the essential points.
    • Discussion and Conclusion: Briefly discuss the “bottom lines” of your work.
    • Acknowledgment: Identify funding source(s), institutional support, individuals who have contributed significantly but are not listed as authors, etc.
    • Handout: Consider distributing a handout during your presentation time if there is a need for exchange of large data sets or other details.
  • Depending on the focus of the research, one also typically includes tables, figures, illustrations, and/or photographs. Large type or print font and points that can be read from several feet away should be utilized. One example that works well: a Times font in 24 point.
  • In addition to using large dark lettering, please keep in mind the following:
    • Keep tables and figures simple and uncluttered, with large font axis labels and legends.
    • Strong visual contrast is a must. Many people have difficulty distinguishing closely related colors, like green from blue, or among subtle shades of a primary color, particularly against incompatible background colors. Up to 10% of people who view your work will have some degree of color blindness.
    • Most graphic software programs have innumerable options for color and symbol shape. Although there are many terrific options which look reasonable on your computer screen, please keep in mind this may be ineffective when printed. Don’t forget that there is much to be said for using large and unique symbols or shading patterns to distinguish groups and conditions, with more sparing use of color to make these distinctions.
  • Avoid mounting materials on thick or heavy backing, as the push pins will be unable to secure it on the display boards. Push pins will be available on-site, however you are advised to bring your own in case the supply runs out.


*Adapted from ACSM poster guidelines.