In contrast to an oral presentation, a “poster” is a visual representation of the research project that must convey the essence of your message. In effect, it “talks” for the researcher. The poster presenter is on hand to answer questions and provide additional details. Keep in mind that the poster needs to attract attention from 10 feet away so include a large, interesting photo or design. Also include more detail for closer, secondary inspection while avoiding text-heavy posters.
While posters are not uniform most generally include the following:
- Title telling the name of the project, the people involved in the work, and their affiliation. The title should be large font, descriptive, and concise.
- Abstract stating what you set out to do, how you have done it, the key results, and the main findings and conclusions.
- Introduction that includes clear statements about the problem you are trying to solve, the new ideas or items you are trying to discover or create, or the proofs that you are trying to establish. Note the background work that has led up to the current status of your research of creative work in this area. These should then lead to the declaration of your specific project aims and objectives.
- Theory or Methods section that explains the basis of the techniques that you are using or the procedures that you have adopted in your study. You should also state and justify any assumptions so that your results can be viewed in the proper context.
- Results section that discusses the main findings of your investigation and their value.
- Conclusions section that discusses the main findings of your investigation and their value.
- Further Plans section that contains recommendations and thoughts about ow the work could be continued. What kind of things could be done next? What are some possible long-term goals or outcomes?
- Acknowledgements section that allows you to thank organizations that might have provided financial support of the individuals who donated time to help with the project.
- Keep the material simple and concise with plenty of clear white space.
- Use colors sparingly to emphasize, differentiate, and add interest. (In general, it is better to keep the background light.)
- Pictures, graphs, and charts can be helpful in communicating a message quickly. Equations should be kept to a minimum, be large enough to read, and accompanied by definitions to explain the significance of each variable. Label any diagrams and drawings. Clipart may be used for interest as long as it’s not distracting.
- Font size should be such that a reader can stand at a distance of 5 feet and read the text.
- Use underlined text, bold face, italics, or combinations to emphasize words and phrases.
- Proofread carefully. Spelling counts. (Typographical errors do not reflect well on credibility or the presenter.)
- A poster is “the story” of your research. Hint: Make draft versions of your poster sections and check them for mistakes, legibility, consistency in style, and various layout arrangements. Ask your mentor, professor, or peers to review to make sure it’s your best work.
Source: Utah State University (http://rgs.usu.edu/undergradresearch/present/)
Sharing Your Poster Digitally
If you are sharing your poster digitally, there are a couple steps you can take to ensure everyone can access the information in the same way.
Describe Images, Charts, and Graphs
Not all users can perceive images in the same way. Adding a short alternative text description allows all users to interpret the meaning of your images. For directions on adding alternative text in PowerPoint, see Add alternative text to a shape, picture, chart, SmartArt graphic, or other objects.
Use Accessible Colors
Having accessible colors on your poster ensures everyone can read your content easily. Use colors that have enough contrast between the background and foreground. You can check if your colors have enough contrast with a Contrast Checker like the one available from WebAIM or use one of the pre-designed templates available from Boise State.
Before saving your final draft, use the “Check Accessibility” feature in PowerPoint. Select File, Check for Issues, Check Accessibility and follow the recommendations in the report. Most likely this will include adding alt text to any images you may have missed.
Save your poster as a PDF, PowerPoint, or an Image File
When you finish designing your poster, save a copy as an image file (JPG or PNG), a PDF, or a Slide Deck (Google Slides or PowerPoint). Your choice of file type depends on where you are sharing your poster. We currently host posters on a specialized research platform called Fourwaves. Fourwaves requires all posters to be JPG or PNG.