Creating Effective Academic Posters

Undergraduate Researcher in front of poster at URC Conference

An academic poster is one of many ways to communicate your research or scholarship.  Researchers use books, talks, teaching, journal articles, press releases, popular media to communicate their findings.   An academic poster, when done effectively, is a way to showcase your work at conferences and meetings in a concise and aesthetically pleasing format.  

At a poster session, your ultimate goal is to share the story of your work with as many people as possible.  This will give you the opportunity to network with people that may be future advisers, employers, or collaborators and you can receive important feedback on your work.  To bring people in, your poster should communicate the topic quickly and include visual elements such as pictures, graphs, maps and diagrams as well as text.  At its core, an effective poster is centered on a concise and powerful story.  With the help of visuals, the presenter can share the story of the work in just five minutes.  

Before you start:

  • Are there any guidelines from the event or conference?  Poster size and orientation?  Required elements? (Be sure to size your poster or use a correctly sized template before you start designing!  (For the URC conference, posters must be 36" x 48" either portrait or landscape orientation, PDF format and abstracts are not required on the poster - submission information for free printing will be emailed to all poster presenters.)
  • What software will you use?  PowerPoint is commonly used, but other illustration software applications can work well, too.
  • What are the authors and in what order?  Consult with your faculty research adviser on who should be included.
  • What will be the look and layout?  Colors?  Grid Layout?  Fonts?

Getting started:

View the gallery of sample posters and check out the resources listed below:


Remember that a template is just a guideline and you will need to resize sections and enter headings, photos and graphic components to create a poster that will be a visually engaging communication of your research.  Below are some websites with free downloadable 36" x 48" templates as well as some template files:  

Scientific Poster PowerPoint Templates

Research Poster PowerPoint Templates

Powerpoint Scientific Research Poster Templates


Landscape Template 

Portrait Template

Landscape Template 2