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photo of students presenting their research work

Student Research Symposium > Poster Instructions

Instructions for preparing posters

Posters have become an increasingly popular method for presentation of research at meetings, as they promote greater interaction between the presenter and other conference participants. A properly constructed poster can be used repeatedly and become part of a long-term display.

For the SRS, posters should be 31" X 40" (landscape) in size (the paper is 42" but the printer will not print to the edges). The posters will be held up with the supplied support board  and easel. You will be expected to stand next to your poster during the scheduled poster session.  You may download a 31" X 40" PowerPoint poster template here.

Tip #6 below is probably the most important aspect of making the presentation interesting for observers.


1. Prepare a banner in large type (letters 1-1.5 inches high) containing the title. You should also include the authors’ names (in smaller type). This banner should be placed high up on the poster so it can be seen above people heads.  The logo for the college and other sponsoring agencies may be placed in the banner.

2. Posters should stimulate discussion. Therefore, keep text to a minimum, emphasize graphics , and make sure every item in your poster is necessary. Remember that many people will read only the introduction and conclusion. Additionally, they will be viewing your poster from ~5 feet away; as a rule of thumb, use a font size of at least 14 point and 1.5 spacing. Bullet points work better than full sentences.

3. The flow of information on the poster is often organized in columns running down the poster, not in rows across it. Posters generally contain the following sections: Title, Introduction/ Background, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, References. Other formats are acceptable, but the information should be easy to follow in your absense.

4. The poster should be self-explanatory, so that its main points will be communicated even if you are not there to explain the points. Large amounts of methodological detail or a long list of references are not appropriate. Those who are interested in these details can ask you for the information.

5. Each figure should have a prominent title that describes the main point of that figure. Figure legends should also be included. Ordinary type or carelessly prepared handwritten copy is not appropriate.

6. Prepare an oral presentation of no more that five minutes (preferably 2-4 minutes) to ‘walk’ interested parties through you poster and its main points.  This is refered to as the 'elevator talk'-- a talk that lasts about as long as an elevator ride and that stimulates enough interest for an extended conversation when you have reached your floor.

7. Make the poster well in advance and practice it with your colleagues as much as you would practice an oral presentation.

8. At the poster session, let people peruse you poster for ~30 before approaching them to ask if you may lead them through it. Don't be shy about introducing yourself- you never know who you will meet!

9. If appropriate, you can prepare handouts. Many people choose to print 8X10" versions of the poster for distribution. Include your contact information on handouts. 

10. Other hints:

  • Draw a rough sketch of your poster first . You may find it helpful to use graph paper and small pieces of paper (e. g. Post - it ® Notes cut to size) to better visualize where the components of your poster will go.
  • Place related materials (e. g. photo with accompanying text) close together, then highlight it by framing with blank space.
  • Space your information proportionally: divide your poster into three or four sections, and place your materials within those spaces.
  • When choosing a background, remember that neutral or gray colors will be easier on the eyes than a bright color. In addition, color photos look best when mounted on gray.

 Adapted from: