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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Posters : Undergraduate Research Symposium

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 expect at the Illinois Undergraduate Research Symposium

Before the conference: 

  • Make sure to save your poster file as a PDF and double-check the size (it should be 48' by 36") before sending it to the printer. 
  • Dress is business casual - wear comfortable shoes.
  • There will be clips available to attach your poster, you do not need to bring push pins. 
  • Practice your lightning talk ahead of time and be prepared to answer a multitude of questions about your research. Some questions to consider: Why did you choose this particular research question? What did you learn that you did not expect? What is the most interesting aspect that you learned? What would your next steps be if you could continue this research next semester?

The day of the conference:

  • Don't forget your poster and your handouts/business cards. This will be your way to connect with attendees after the poster session is done. It should include your title, a copy of your poster, citations, abstract, and contact information.
  • Arrive early. Check-in at the front desk in front of Illini Ballroom Rooms A, B, and C.
  • Pick up clips to attach your poster as you enter the ballroom and put up your poster in your assigned location. 
  • With your extra few minutes before the poster session starts, make sure that your poster is properly mounted and take a few minutes to introduce yourself to your neighbors. 
  • There will be a lot of people around the posters at any one time - don't focus your attention on only one person. Make sure you use your eyes and body language to draw people into your conversations.
  • Do not leave early. Even if it seems slow, you should stay until the poster session time slot is over. Once the session is over, consider staying for the next session or attend one of the panel sessions to learn more about what your peers are doing across disciplines. 

You've created your poster - now what? PRINTING!

>> Make sure your poster is the correct size (width 48" by height 36") and is saved as a PDF file.

You have several options for printing your poster:

  • Technology Services - $27 charged to your student account through the Papercut system
    • There are NO refunds on posters - if you make a mistake, you'll have to pay to print again
    • Located in the English Bldg
  • FedEx- approximately $50-100
    • Benefits: Can send to the printer with less notice than for Technology Services.
    • You print a preview (smaller) of your poster for free - contact them for details.
    • If you are presenting work as part of a grant, please contact your faculty mentor to see if there is funding to print your poster. 
  • Martin One Source - approximately $35-40
    • Benefits: Cheaper than FedEx.
    • Will need at least 48 hours lead time and you must pickup from their facility in western Champaign.
    • Can print on fabric for travel purposes.

Note: prices are for a 48" by 36" color poster

Before sending to the printer:

  • Make sure you have double-checked your poster for spelling and grammatical errors. 
  • Make sure all of your images are the proper size, if stretched they will pixelate. 
  • Save your poster to PDF format. 
  • Double-check the "Properties" of your PDF file to make sure your poster is the correct dimensions (most likely width 48" by height 36").

Undergraduate Research Certificate Program

If you attend a workshop on how to create a poster, you can add that to your progress towards the Undergraduate Research Certificate Program. You'll need to submit a one-page summary of the workshop. 

Attendance at one (1) campus workshop on undergraduate research OR one (1) professional research presentation.

  • Students must attend one workshop related to undergraduate research; these are conducted periodically throughout the year by departments, the University Library, and the Office of Undergraduate Research. A one-page summary (approximately 200 words) is required for certification.


Students must be currently enrolled at the University of Illinois in order to be eligible for the program. Students who want to participate in the certificate program should express interest prior to the start of their senior year.

Students must complete the application form and submit the appropriate documentation. The Office of Undergraduate Research will make the final determination as to whether or not the student has completed the requirements for the certificate.

Spring conference for all undergraduates

Poster workshops

How to Prepare for a Poster Session
If you are presenting at the upcoming Undergraduate Research Symposium, this workshop will help you with your poster.
Poster sessions at conferences and professional meetings are a way to visually convey the details of your research or conclusions. No matter which discipline you're coming from, your poster needs a defined organization strategy. This hands-on workshop will introduce you to the basics of technology, design and presentation.
  • Use PowerPoint to create a single slide for your poster
  • Overview of design principles for an effective poster
  • Suggestions for effective communication at the poster session
  • Printing details

Oral presentation workshops

Telling your Story: Preparing and Presenting your research

You’ve put in the hours and completed the research, but how do you tell people about it? In this workshop you will learn how to turn a large research project into a bite-sized presentation that outlines all the information while encouraging a deeper conversation. We will look at tips and tricks to sum up your work for colleagues and for laypeople, we will look at tools such as Prezi and PowerPoint for presentation aids, and how to preserve these materials online so that your work can speak for itself to large audiences. 

Workshops dates and times