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Poster Design Tips

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 1 : Plan your layout carefully. Layout includes

  • Headings and subheadings
  • Organising the information into sections.
  • There should be balance and simplicity.
  • Deciding where you want to add graphics, photographs, graphs, etc.
  • Do not try to present too much detail. Less is more.
  • Leaving enough white space - don't clutter the poster, it should have a clean and simple layout.
  • Provide your name and contact details for people that might want to discuss it with you.
  • Information should flow (viewing sequence) by column or by row, as in the following examples:

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 2 : Choose colours that complement each other. Certain colours, like certain yellows, etc., are difficult to see and read. Text and background colours should complement each other. Make sure your foreground colour (text) is clear and soft on the eyes when combined with the background colour.


  • Text size font type are a very important aspects when designing a poster. They will determine whether your audience will be able to read your poster with ease.
  • If not, all your hard work was for nothing. It is not easy to read words that are in capital letters, e.g. COMMUNICATION STYLES vs Communication styles
  • To attract your audience, they must be able to read your poster from a distance (1 - 3m), therefore font size is extremely important. These are recommended font sizes to use:

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 4 : An effective poster operates on multiple levels ...

  • source of information
  • conversation starter
  • advertisement of your work
  • summary of your work

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 5 : A poster can be defined as a placard or bill, usually large and often incorporating photographs or illustrations, posted up for advertising or publicity or for decorative purposes. The functions of those which advertise include communication, selling and persuading. This does not preclude them being decorative. Indeed the first job of a poster is to attract the attention of the passerby and only once this is done can a message be delivered. A good poster then is one which is attention-grabbing, succinct, convincing and memorable.


  • A poster is a visual presentation of information and should be designed as such - do not simply reproduce your written paper in poster format.
  • It should be understandable to the reader without verbal comment - someone might look at it while you are talking to another delegate, or while you're in the toilet.
  • Remember, you are trying to catch the delegate's attention

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 7 : When the poster is designed, you should convert it to PDF for printing, using PDF Creator or Adobe Acrobat. The conversion process is often problematic: edges of words and images may be cut off near to the margins, images may appear degraded or misshapen, poster elements may have shifted and become overlapping. However, by ironing out these problems at the conversion stage, you avoid nasty surprises later when you come to print it out. When the PDF looks good, you can be pretty confident that the printed version will also be OK.

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 8 : Poster Content

  • Make sure the title and author's name are prominent and eye- catching
  • Tell a story: provide clear flow of information from introduction to conclusion
  • Focus on your major findings - a common fault is to try to cover too much. Few delegates are going to read everything on your poster, so get to the point.
  • Use graphs, tables, diagrams and images where appropriate. Use boxes to isolate and emphasise specific points.
  • Always follow the conference guidelines, which may be specific about what you are expected to present.


  • Use all the space at your disposal, but do not cram in the content - white space is an important part of the layout, and good use of it can make a poster elegant and arresting.
  • Use colour sparingly - limited use of a few colours is more striking than a 'rainbow' approach. Think about why you are using colour; it is especially useful for emphasis and differentiation.
  • Avoid colour combinations that clash (e.g. red on blue) or cause problems for people with colour-blindness (e.g. red and green in proximity).
  • Use white or muted colour background (e.g. pastel shades)
  • The flow of information should be clear from the layout - if you need to use arrows, you could probably lay it out better.

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 10 : Writing a poster should be like writing a very short story, with introduction, content and, hopefully, a punchy conclusion. The poster should be self-sufficient. Anyone wanting further information can talk with you at the poster session, take a hand-out you might have (at a conference, not at your poster session, please) or follow up a reference you may give on the poster directing them to an article or, perhaps, a web page.

POSTER DESIGN TIPS 11 : Advertisers are in the business of trying to create a single, lasting message by means of a poster. You’d really quite like to do that too. Your poster will not be very successful if the sight of the poster next door makes the on-looker completely forget about yours. The advertiser’s technique is to rely 95% on visual impact and keep the word count very short. Too many conference posters have poor visual impact. In a conference poster session there may be 200 posters competing for attention in the afternoon. If your display has little visual impact, it is likely that the participants will have forgotten about you and your work by the end of the afternoon, good and painstaking though it was

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