Designing a Poster

Why a poster?

The purpose of a poster presentation is to create rapid, concise & visual communication of research. (Hofmann, 2010)
To achieve rapid communication –  structure your content logically, clearly label each section and lay it out in order.
To achieve concise communication – limit your word count (300-800). Include only  key findings.
To achieve visual communication – keep it simple, use images and plenty of white space.

See Help sheet on Designing a Poster for Conferences 

10 Steps to poster design

  1. Decide on content. How will you tell a story of your work? Use a mind map to identify key elements (and use these as headings). also identify where images can be used effectively.
  2. Create your text content.  Pitch your content to your intended audience.    Tip: Use MS Word for creating text content so you can keep an eye on word count and to make it easy to edit and proof.
  3. Gather your images including charts and graphics (see Images)
  4. Start Powerpoint and setup your page (see physical requirements), view gridlines (see Powerpoint)
  5. Apply a layout : divide your page into 2,3 or 4 columns and create spaces to hold the content. You can use a ready-made layout or create your own.
  6. Insert your text into the layout in an order that runs left to right or top to bottom. Apply fonts/colours. (see Fonts and Colours)
  7. Insert your images / graphs etc into the layout and size these to fit neatly with the text.
  8. Save As Adobe PDF for sending to the printer.
  9. Email PDF file to printer with print instructions including: Print size, number of copies, full-colour, and if you want it laminated. Ensure you give sufficient turnaround time for printing and laminating.

Transport and Display: Plan for how you will deliver your poster (in a cardboard tube?) and how it will be affixed to the wall or boards provided (BluTack, pins?)

Physical Requirements

Generally a conference poster is size A0 or A1. Check this with the conference organisers and whether the poster can be landscape or portrait.


Use only 2 or 3 fonts and Sans serif eg Tahoma, Arial and Calibri are clean and easy to read

Avoid overuse of Upper Case

Size Guidelines:

A0: Title: 120 pt, bold; Section headings: 36-56 pt Body text: 26 pt

A1: Title: 96pt, bold; Section headings: 36-48 pt Body text: 20 pt


Use only 2 / 3 Colours. Use light hues for body text backgrounds because strong colours can distract. For a professional look, apply exact colours (for example , to match a central image) by setting custom colours in Powerpoint. You can determine exact colours by using Pixie (free colour tool from

Remember that print colours are generally duller than screen values and beware of Out of Gamut colours (very bright or neon-like) that can appear mucky when printed.


Microsoft Office Online
PowerPoint SmartART
Flickr Be sure to use the Advanced Search option to search for Creative Commons licensed content only. Another great resource is, a search engine devoted to Creative Commons licensed content.
Stockxchng: (
Create your own photo stock