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Designing an Academic Poster: Academic Posters

Tips and tricks on how to get started with translating your research into a visually appeasing poster.

So, you have finished your research process or you are really close it and now its time to share your research in a poster session. Where do you being? This guide will give you some ideas and offer some guidance on the process of academic poster design, as well as, poster presentation. The questions below will help orient you with the basics. However, if you are ready to tackle your poster navigate to the "Poster Tips and Tricks" tab on the left.  

What is an academic poster and how is it different than any other type of poster? 

A academic poster is a visual aid prop for short research talk or discussion. Instead of listening to a long talk, participants to walk by a visual representation of your work and have the opportunity to hear from you briefly. 

While regular posters tend to be more abstract and colorful, academic posters tend to have well-defined sections to aid with ease of information transfer, since the participants to poster sessions are walking by several posters. The range can vary from a few to over a 100 posters. Hence, its importance to keep in mind that you should try and make your poster attractive without being too overwhelming. The key is brevity and clarity, so that someone walking by can get a quick gist of your research story and gauge whether they are going to stop for a chat or move on to the next poster. 

What are some of the norms of an academic poster? 

Traditional academic posters tend to have the following pieces of information:

  • Title and Author(s), with affiliations (Dartmouth College) and contact (email, phone if applicable)

Depending on your poster's topic and your academic discipline, other elements to include might be:

  • Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions, References, Acknowledgements, along with tables, charts, images, and other illustrative matter

How can you start things about elements of the poster even before you have completed your research process? 

Collect and save pieces visual elements of your research along the way. These could be screenshots of literature searches photographs of equipment, pictures of you collecting data, or working in a lab, flowcharts of your workflow, etc. As you are collecting these pieces, you should start thinking about a broader layout for how you want to display these elements to tell your research story. 

What softwares should I use to make my poster? 

We recommend starting with a software that you are comfortable with. One can design beautiful posters in Powerpoint, Canva, LateX, InDesign, and Photoshop, to name a few softwares. The tab on templates gives you a starting point with templates for some of these softwares. Each software has its pros and cons but most of the ones listed here will get you to a polished finished piece, ready to be printed out. 

Recording of session (April 28th 2022)

Slide deck (April 17th 2023)