Tips for Designing a Poster Presentation

Creating a compelling poster presentation for a scientific meeting can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the information below, and refer to our PDF checklist to help guarantee that your poster is meeting-ready.

Know Your Audience

Is your research specific to people in your field (e.g. materials science, industrial physics), or can you broaden your audience to include people in similar or unrelated areas of science? Remember to use clear language and avoid jargon, so that all readers can understand, regardless of their expertise. Don’t forget to work on your elevator pitch!

Give Your Poster a Clean Layout

The preferred poster presentation size for APS meetings is 4'x8'. However, poster dimensions for other scientific meetings may differ, be sure to check the meeting website. Remember to include:

  • An eye-catching title! Use a 72-100 point font to make your title stand out.
  • Names of all authors, plus their institutions
  • Section headings
  • Plenty of interesting graphics

For maximum readability:

  • Choose a font size in the 24-32 point range for the body text
  • Use bulleted lists instead of full paragraphs
  • Use a light background with dark letters
  • Pick one of the recommended fonts: Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, or Georgia are easy to read and widely available.
  • Limit your fonts to 2-3 colors.
  • Do not use background images underneath your text, these will conflict visually with the text and make your poster more difficult to read.

What to Include on Your Poster:

  • Introduction - Why is this problem important? Provide clear background to interest the reader.
  • Procedure - What methods, tools, and additional resources did you use for your project? Include images, tables, or charts when possible.
  • Graphics - Use high-resolution images, label all charts and graphs, and include a legend if necessary.
  • Results - In most cases, it is not necessary to include all of your raw data. Show the data analysis that is applicable and briefly describe your results. Remember, not too much jargon! Your results should be the most prominent feature in the layout of your poster.
  • Conclusion - This is your opportunity to remind readers of the importance/relevance of your work. Use 2-4 bullet points to summarize your conclusion.
  • References - Remember to cite your work. Do not include titles.
    • Example: A. B. Smith, Phys. Rev. A 26, 107 (1982)
  • Acknowledgments - Take the time to thank your collaborators (those who are not co-authors) as well as your sources of funding. Don’t forget to mention travel grants!

Should You Include an Abstract on Your Poster?

For APS meetings, it is not necessary to include your abstract on the poster. However, if you have made significant changes from what you submitted initially, you may wish to include a brief summary.

Still finalizing your abstract? Review our Tips for Writing a Title and Abstract.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

Make sure that everything is spelled correctly, and that your language is consistent. All co-authors should review and agree upon the content of the poster. Show your poster to friends both inside and outside of your department to make sure that your writing is crystal clear. This is also a good way to practice answering questions about your work.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once your work is picture-perfect, it’s time to start rehearsing your presentation. Get started by reading our guidelines for presenting your poster.

At the Meeting

Put your poster up in its designated location at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the poster session, and remove your poster immediately at the close of the session. Please note that AV is not allowed in poster sessions at the APS March and April meetings—posters should be designed using effective printed visuals. Your poster must correspond to the title and content of the abstract you submitted.