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Poster presentations are intended not only to share information about your research but also to draw viewers into a conversation. Too often though, scientists don’t think strategically about their posters. They focus too intently on what should go on the poster before they have a clear sense of their objective and audience.

This section will help you create a poster that communicates your message in a visually interesting format, generates enthusiasm about your work, and helps you get the most out of your next poster session.


Poster Tutorials
Thinking Inside the Box: Four Simple Steps to More Effective Posters, is a recording of a webinar conducted by SCP for grantees and scholars of the John A. Hartford Foundation. The webinar outlines four steps to improving posters and provides examples.

Developing Effective Poster Presentations, created by Strategic Communications & Planning (SCP), was published in the newsletter of the Gerontological Society of America in 2005.

Creating A Message-Driven Poster, also developed by SCP, provides additional tips on how to use a clear concise message to structure your poster.

The Poster Checklist is another resource developed by SCP to help you succeed in creating an effective poster. Use this once you've drafted your poster to ensure that it is message-driven and well-designed.

Creating Effective Poster Presentations, George Hess, Kathryn Tosney, Leon Liegel at North Carolina State University, provides a helpful set of resources, including some interesting examples--even thoughts about abstract writing (though they, like us, feel that abstracts are redundant on posters and should only be used when required).

Advice from Colin Purrington, formerly at Swarthmore College, includes some helpful thinking—even dos and don’ts on poster wardrobe coordination!

Tips on Old-Fashioned Posters, from SCP, will give you helpful advice on how to use “old-school” 8 ½” x 11” sheets to create an effective poster—one that it easy to modify—and carry on airplanes!

Poster Templates
Perhaps the easiest way to improve your poster is to use an existing (and well designed) poster template. Click below for exemplary posters developed in the Hartford network, which you can imitate and modify with your own information, tables, data, and colors. (Just be sure that your page setup dimensions and font sizes are appropriate for the finished poster size you're after.)

  • Traditional quantitative poster from Tom Gill with a few tables/graphs and photos
Template Example
  • Traditional qualitative poster from Catherine Sarkisian with a few tables & graphs
Template Example
  • Non-traditional qualitative poster from Tara Nickle
Template Example
  • Non-traditional qualitative poster from Margaret Crighton
No template available Example
  • Non-traditional dissertation poster from Elana Buch
No template available Example
  • Traditional poster from Carol Kemp
Template Example
  • Traditional poster from Suzanne Prevost
Template Example
  • Traditional qualitative poster from Jennifer Voorhees
No template available Example
  • Traditional qualitative poster from Marilyn Luptak
No template available Example
  • Non-traditional qualitative poster from Heide Bursch
No template available Example
  • Non-traditional qualitative poster from Cynthia McDaniel
No template available Example
  • European format (90 cm x 80 cm vertical) poster from Lyda Arevalo-Flechas
No template available Example
  • Traditional quantitative poster from Melissa O'Connor
No template available Example

Poster Production
You have done your prep work (it takes longer than you expect!), understood your message, and designed a first-rate poster. Now, how do you get a large format poster produced? Some schools have an in-house production capacity. If yours doesn’t, places like Kinko’s, Fast Signs, and AlphaGraphics often do. In all cases, the bigger the poster, the more expensive, so consider relatively smaller formats (e.g., 36” X 48” vs. 40” x 80”). Also be very careful about your images, logos, and photographs. What looks fine on your computer screen, will quickly become pixelated (blurry) when blown up to poster size. Use the hi-resolution versions wherever possible. Color can vary widely from your computer screen to final product, so make sure there is enough contrast between your background and your text.
There are also online poster production services* that are worth a look, such as: has a number of generic (we might even say boring) templates, but you don’t have to use them to have PosterSession produce your poster and even send it directly to your meeting (we have not used the service, so can’t vouch for its reliability). They also sell poster carriers. has a poster tutorial that is long on production advice, but doesn’t say much about more substantive matters. It has generic templates (better than PosterSession), and this service will also print your poster and send it along. Prices here look very good, $53.99 for a 36” x 60” glossy poster. Shipping via FedEx is extra, and they can do everything from eight days (if you really have your ducks in a row) to overnight (you’re flailing). is another similar service (out of Berkeley) with templates (clear, they do no harm). And while their prices are higher than MakeSigns, they sell their customer service harder than others (it seems to include some design consultation according to some of their testimonials). They don’t offer anything slower than 2nd day delivery, so they do sound as if they know the kind of timeframes harried academics are usually working on.

*Please note that we present these services as examples of what is available. This should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.

The Hartford Online Communications Resource depends on the active participation of the foundation’s grantees. If you run across a helpful resource poster, please let us know, so we can share it on the site and make it available to the rest of the Hartford network.

Click here to tell us about any new information about scientific posters or attach a poster you think others in the network might benefit from imitating.




Know your objective and your audience.

What do you want to accomplish at the poster session? Feedback on research, new directions, a new collaborator, a new job?
Who do you want to talk to at the session? Are they in your field or discipline? Are they generalists?

Learn more here.



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