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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Posters : Step by step

Poster sessions at conferences and professional meetings are a way to visually convey the details of your research or conclusions. This guide will offer you the basics in design, content and printing resources.

What to include in your poster

All posters MUST have: 

  1. Title: Make it catchy and use at least 72 pt. font. 
  2. Your name and contact information.
  3. Institutional affiliation, see the Illinois logo tab above.

You many also include:

  1. Research question or hypothesis: Do not copy your abstract if it is included in the program. 
  2. Methodology: What is the research process that you used? Explain how you did your research.
  3. Your interview questions.
  4. Observations: What did you see? Why is this important?
  5. Findings: What did you learn? Summarize your conclusions.
  6. Themes: Pull out themes in the literature and list in bullet points.
  7. Consider a brief narrative of what you learned - what was the most interesting/surprising aspect of your project?
  8. Add interesting quotes from your research.
  9. Data: Use your data to generate charts or tables.
  10. Images: Include images (visit the Visualization & Images tab in the guide for more information). Take your own or legally use others.
  11. Recommendations and/or next steps for future research.
  12. Citations: Only list 3-5 on your poster. If you have more, put them on your handout.
  13. Acknowledgements: Don't forget to thank your advisor, department, or funding agency.

Creating your poster

You have two choices when creating a research poster:

  1. You can create your poster from scratch by using PowerPoint or a similar design program. 
  2. You can use one of the University of Illinois Research Poster Templates.


Sizing your Poster

  • For the EUI Student Conference, please resize your slide to width 40 inches by height 30 inches as shown below. 
  • If you are presenting for the Undergraduate Research Conference, resize your slide to width 48 inches by height 36 inches.
  • If you are presenting at a professional conference, your instructions should indicate the size limits of your poster and standard conference poster size is 48" by 36". 

***IMPORTANT: You must change the size of your slide before you start working on your poster. This will ensure that your images and text do not become pixilated when the poster is printed.


How to correctly size your poster in PowerPoint:

  1. Select the "Design" tab
  2. Click "Slide Size"
  3. Select "Custom Slide Size"
  4. Under the "Slides sized for:" dropdown menu, select "Custom"
  5. Set the "Width" and "Height" to what is needed for your poster
  6. Click "OK" 

How to edit PowerPoint slide size image


More helpful tips

  1. Read Colin Purrington's suggestions for successful poster design.
  2. Be creative in your display, think beyond the text of your paper. You can use boxes, formatting, font, and images to break up the sections of your research poster.
  3. Think carefully about your title. If you would like a longer, more descriptive title, consider a subtitle. Brainstorm several titles and have a peer/colleague/friend/teacher rank them. The title needs to highlight your subject matter, but it does not need to state all your conclusions. Some good titles simply ask questions, others answer them.
  4. You can section your poster according to the major points about your research you want to convey. For example: title, abstract, methodology, data, results, and conclusion. Consider the flow of your poster--these should be in a logical, easy-to-read order. Remember that most people read from left to right and top to bottom.
  5. Qualitative data (e.g. quotes from references and/or interviews) can also be shared on your poster. Make sure you include captions, legends, annotations, citations, and footnotes, if necessary.
  6. Design your poster as if you were designing for a professional publication. Be consistent with your layout, color choices, fonts and sizes.
  7. All text of your poster should be *at least* 24 font size and an easy-to-read font style (e.g. Arial or Verdana). Anything smaller is too difficult to read.
  8. Remember the “KISS Principle”: Keep It Simple, Stupid! In succinct, brief, jargon-free terms, your poster must explain: 1) the scientific problem in mind (what’s the question?), 2) its significance (why should we care?), 3) how your particular experiment addresses the problem (what’s your strategy?), 4) the experiments performed (what did you actually do?), 5) the results obtained (what did you actually find?), 6) the conclusions (what do you think it all means?), and, optionally, 7) caveats (any reservations?) and/or 8) future prospects (where do you go from here?).
  9. What is the number one mistake made in poster presentations? Too much information! Try to keep your poster to the point and and clear. You can always include more information in your handout or on a website.



Using multiple font styles can really make your poster stand out and look professional. Consult this graphic to understand different font styles, what fonts work best together, and what fonts to avoid. Link to online PDF of graphic.