BIO 801
Scientific Literature and Writing
Poster Presentations

Examples of Posters:



General format:



   Preparing a poster will take as much time as you let it. Allocate your time wisely. If you have little experience making posters, it will take longer.

A good way to start: Sketch it out! (or use a poster template; see Software and Hardware Options near the bottom of this page)

Make a sketch of the poster. Arrange the contents in a series of 3, 4, or 5 columns. This will facilitate the flow of traffic past the poster.



Place the elements of the poster in position:

The Title

This part of the poster includes the title of the work, the authors names, & the institutional affiliations. Think BIG!

Sequencing contents

A poster should use photos, figures, and tables to tell the story of the study. For clarity, present the information in a sequence that is easy to follow:


Edit Ruthlessly!

There is almost always too much text in a poster.

   1. Posters primarily are visual presentations; the text should support the graphics.


   2. Look critically at the layout. Some poster 'experts' suggest that if there is about 20-25% text, 40-45% graphics and 30-40% empty space, you are doing well.

   3. Use active voice when writing the text.

   4. Delete all redundant references and filler phrases (such as see Figure 1).

   5. An abstract may not be necessary. If you've kept the amount of text on your poster to a minimum, an abstract is likely redundant.

   The poster is not a publication of record, so excessive detail about methods, or vast tables of data are not necessary. Such material can be discussed with interested persons individually during or after the session, or presented in a handout.


   The success of a poster directly relates to the clarity of the illustrations and tables.


Show no mercy when editing visual materials!

Poster text

Double-space all text, using left-justification; text with even left sides and jagged right sides is easiest to read. The text should be large enough to be read easily from at least 6 feet away.


For section headings (e.g., Introduction), use bold, maybe a font size of about 36-42. For supporting text (e.g., text within each section & figure captions), use font sizes of about 24-28 (bold, if appropriate). In general, use font sizes proportional to importance:


Keep in mind that san serif fonts (having characters without curliques or other embellishments) are easiest to read. Finally, be consistent. Choose one font and then use it throughout the poster. Add emphasis by using boldface, underlining, or color; italics are difficult to read.                                             .

The Poster's Background

The choice of a background color is up to you. However, softer colors (pastels & greys) may work best as a background - they are easiest to view for hours at a time, and offer the best contrast for text, graphic, and photographic elements.  

Use a colored background to unify your poster:

   1. Muted colors, or shades of gray, are best for the background. Use more intense colors as borders or for emphasis, but be conservative - overuse of color is distracting.

   2. Two to three related background colors (Methods, Results, & Discussion) will unify the poster.

 Color can enhance the hues or contrast of photographs:

   1. Use a light background with darker photos; a dark background with lighter photos.

   2. Use a neutral background (gray) to emphasize color in photos; a white background to reduce the impact of colored photos.

   3. Most poster sessions are held in halls lit with harsh fluorescent light. If exact colors are important to the data, balance those colors for use with fluorescent lighting. Also, all colors will be intensified; bright (saturated) colors may become unpleasent to view.

Miscellaneous comments

Useful links:

Poster Making 101

Ten simple rules for a good poster presentation

Software and Hardware Options:

Posters can be generated and printed as one large document using a variety of software packages such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, or Canvas. Large-format printers come in various sizes. Our department's printer can handle posters up to 42 inches wide (& length is flexible).

Creating a Poster Using MS PowerPoint

Poster templates - 1

Poster templates - 2

Poster templates - 3

Creating a PowerPoint Poster:



Making a poster using PowerPoint:



Back to BIO 801 syllabus