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Brooks Library Research Guides: Conference Posters: Creating & Presenting

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About Posters
Conference posters are an important method of scholarly communication. In many fields of study, poster sessions are a feature of every conference.

Some frequent advice for posters includes:
  1. Readable from a distance! Most recommend that it should be readable at 4 to 6 feet at the very least.
  2. Large font sizes (This is implied by #1 above). Very few advise less than 18 point.
  3. Succint. Not many conference goers want to spend eons reading your poster.
  4. Sufficient white space.
  5. Interesting, eye-catching illustrations, and relevant!
  6. Plan ahead! You need time to proof-read your poster and ask others to do so.
  7. Plan ahead! You need time to request materials through Summit such as Preparing Scientific Illustrations: A Guide to Better Posters, Presentations, and Publications (recommended in Designing Conference Posters below).
  8. Have printed copies of your poster to hand out. Regular 8.5 X 11 size is fine. (Thank you to Ken Ames of the Northwest Anthropology Conference for this idea!)
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Handbooks & Guides

Designing Conference Posters
Colin Purrington, formerly of Swarthmore College, offers these helpful tips, DOs and DON'Ts, links, literature, and templates. For a concise resource, it's possibly as close as you'll get to a complete toolkit for designing your conference posters. In case you need more help, he provides a list of "Useful Literature." Probably the most entertaining of these is the tongue-in-cheek "Mortal sins in poster presentations or, How to give the poster no one remembers."
Effective writing in psychology [electronic resource] : papers, posters, and presentations / Bernard C. Beins, Agatha M. Beins Restricted Resource Some full text available
This eBook is directed toward writing in psychology, but the chapter on creating poster presentations (chapter 16) and the one on oral presentations (chapter 17) have suggestions relavant to most fields.
How to Make a Great Poster Some full text available
"One experience common to scientists, especially beginners, is the presentation of their research at scientific conferences, using a poster format. Research Associate Professor of Botany, Dina Mandoli, of the University of Washington at Seattle, has created this useful tipsheet on how to make a great poster. Placed online by the American Society of Plant Physiologists, the tipsheet reviews the important basics of creating a powerful presentation -- readability, organization, nice graphics, and brevity. The tipsheet is easy to read and content-rich; new poster-makers and veterans, alike, will benefit from her advice. [LXP]" (From the Scout Report 11/11/1998 https://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/SciEng/1998/se-981111#11, accessed April 12, 2013).

How to Succeed in Academics
Print Location: LB1778 .M27 2000
Have a look at the chapter on "Presentations at scientific meetings: preparation of effective slides and posters."
Preparing and Presenting Effective Research Posters Some full text available
Written to help presenters "recognize the unique nature of the format, which is a hybrid of a published paper and an oral presentation," this article addresses elements of content and layout as well as effective research communication.  Health Serv Res. 2007 February; 42(1 Pt 1): 311–328. doi:  10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00588.x
Presenting Conference Papers and Posters in the Humanities Some full text available
Posters -- they're not just for science and technology fields anymore! David Forrest of Texas Tech quotes Elliott Moreton regarding the three purposes of a poster:  “To illustrate your explanation to the hearer when you are there…to explain your work to the reader when you are not there…[and] to make people want to read your paper.” A full explanation of the whats and whys of conference poster creation and presentation is accompanied by list of additional resources. Forrest also provides guidance on presenting a paper.
Scitable Poster Presentation tips Some full text available
The publishers of the journal Nature bring you this short but informative page. Generally "the usual suspects" in the way of poster advice, but with somewhat more of an emphasis on marketing yourself, your work, and your poster.

Web Sites

Citation Maker

"You can use this tool to create a Works Cited list of research sources following the MLA and APA standard citation formats." This can be a great time saver, but remember, any automated citation generator (as well as any non-automated one, in particular a person) can make a mistake. You need to recognize and correct those errors. This tool is provided free by the Oregon School Library Information System.


Items Of Interest

Making a Poster Using MS PowerPoint
Clear step-by-step instructions for creating a poster using PowerPoint 2010 on a PC or 2011 on a Mac. Mainly the basics of how to set up Power Point for creating a poster. Minimal information on design and content. (The last page and a half or so of these guides is instructions for using the UW poster printing service, so it won't be relevant to anyone without a UW affiliation.)
Subject Specialist
Picture: Lisa Euster

Lisa Euster
Research Librarian
Tel: (509) 963-1642

Picture: Courtney Paddick

Courtney Paddick
Academic & Research Commons Librarian
Tel: (509) 963-2861

Journal Articles
Miller, Jane E. 2007. Preparing and Presenting Effective Research Posters. Health Services Research 42(1, Part I):311-328.
  • Miller discusses content, design, preparation, and presentation for the best effect in the poster format. She describes the poster as a hybrid between a published paper and an oral presentation. She notes that the focus of a poster presentation is driven by viewer interests, and that the presenter may learn as much from the viewer as vice versa. She advocates developing a brief oral overview and "modules" you can use to address facets of your work and expected questions. A checklist is included for thorough preparation.