Skip to Main Content

Presenting Your Research: Research Posters

Research Posters

Developing and presenting a poster is a common way to share research ideas and work at conferences and other professional events.

Presenting: What to expect and effective practices

Step One: Plan

What's the Purpose? Determine the purpose of your presentation. What are the most important points of your research that you want to share and to what end? If there's an idea that you want your audience to remember, what is it?

Who is your audience? Will they understand technical terms that you use? If you want to also attract audiences who are not in your discipline, consider using language and images that appeal to both discipline and non-discipline viewers.

What are the rules for your poster? Event organizers usually limited space in which to fit all of the posters, so the physical size of your poster might be limited to a specific height and width. Some conferences even require specific font sizes and styles. Check with organizers for poster session rules.

SU Poster Presentation Templates for download:

36"x48" Full Poster Template
30"x36" Full Poster Template

24"x36" Center Panel Template
12"x36" Side Panel Template

PowerPoint Poster Templates


Step Two: Organizing the information

Now that you know the dimensions that you have to work with, think about organizing your poster in sections. Common sections for academic posters include:

Header: Title, Name and Institution

1. Introduction

2. Hypothesis or statement of need

3. Method 

4. Discussion of results, measured or observed.

5. Conclusion or new question

6. Future plans or direction.

This image represents the common "flow" of how audiences read research posters. This is just an example.

Image source: Northwestern University Collaborative Learning & Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences

Step Three: Enhance your poster text

"An academic poster should be both professional and concise, so a general rule is only to include graphics that really support your content

  • Use diagrams, graphs or flowcharts to help explain complex information visually.
  • Try not to use too many different or strongly contrasting colours. A limited colour palette can be very effective.
  • Avoid using unnecessary and distracting background textures or decoration.
  • If your topic has a central statement, graphic or diagram, make this prominent in your design. Don't hide it in a corner!
  • Every graphic should have a purpose."

(from Edinburgh Napier University, Get ready for University Study

See this guide's section on Finding and Using Images to learn more. Images and videos can enhance your ability to communicate ideas to an audience. However, it is important to know that there are restrictions (copyright, for example).

Effective Poster Design - The University of Guelph Teaching Support Services makes recommendations for poster backgrounds, colors, spacing, and text/font.

Step Four: Printing

Faculty who are presenting a poster for a conference or for academic purposes can contact the Instructional Design & Delivery department.

Students who are preparing posters can use the resources provided to prepare their posters. Printing of student posters is handled by Media Services. For more information on student poster printing services, contact the IT Helpdesk.

Review SU's Poster Printer Policy.