Developing a Poster Presentation

Original Editor - Amanda Ager

Top Contributors - Ewa Jaraczewska, Amanda Ager, Jess Bell and Kim Jackson  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

A poster presentation comes in many different forms. It visually represents a clinical case study, a newly developed programme or a scientific study through text, charts, graphs, and other visual aids. A poster presentation allows viewers and knowledge users to read research material at their leisure and to interact with a presenter by asking questions about the methods or critical findings of the research.[1] Research posters summarise information concisely and attractively to help publicise it and generate discussion. This page addresses the process of developing a formal, research-based poster presentation. It can be used as a reference guide in all poster presentation projects.

General Guidelines[edit | edit source]

An academic, scientific, or clinical poster is called a poster presentation; these terms can be synonyms. Posters range in size and can be arranged in a portrait or landscape orientation. It can also be in-person or presented virtually.

The following are the general rules applied to a poster presentation:

  • it should start a conversation.
  • it is a colourful abstract, not a wall-mounted essay
  • it aims to grab the attention of the audience, which in turn will generate interest in the area of the work it covers
  • research posters should help publicise research and generate discussion.

Building a Poster Presentation[edit | edit source]

The Aims[edit | edit source]

When developing a poster presentation, the author must answer the following three questions.

  1. What is the most important/exciting/astounding finding from the research project?
  2. What is the best way to visually share the research with conference attendees? Should charts, graphs, photos, or images be used?
  3. What is the focus of the talk that will complement the poster?

Steps in Creating a Poster Presentation[edit | edit source]

  • Choose the audience and the purpose of the presentation. The presentation could be:
    • a requirement of the degree programme or clinical placement
    • a presentation of the research findings at an academic conference
    • an expression of complex material in an accessible way for a non-specialist audience
  • Define the purpose of the poster. It may include the following:
    • to help others learn something about your work
    • to introduce a new and interesting perspective on a topic
    • to present a clinical case or the development of a new programme
    • to engage with colleagues, share ideas and network
    • to help the presenter gain experience to openly communicate and talk about their work and research
  • Conceptualise the poster:
    • key headings
    • graphs or images
    • colour scheme
  • Ask for feedback before finishing the poster. The feedback should focus on the following elements:
    • readability of the poster
    • formatting
  • Submit the poster:
    • submit a few days before the deadline
    • a PDF copy of the poster may be required ahead of the scheduled event

Key Elements of Building a Poster[edit | edit source]

The MoSCoW Method[edit | edit source]

The MoSCoW technique helps prioritise the requirements for a specific project.[2] It offers project predictability and helps ensure there are no "white spaces" in the plan.[3]

The MoSCow method can help presenters prioritise and decide which elements to include in a poster presentation.

  • Divide a blank page into the following four categories to help decide the importance of information and organise the poster presentation according to the results received.
    1. Must have
    2. Should have
    3. Could have
    4. Won’t have
  • The texts categorised as “won’t have” and “could have” can be immediately removed
  • “Should have” requires further assessment
  • Only information categorised as “must have” definitively needs to go on the poster

Headings[edit | edit source]

The following are the critical elements of the poster.

  • Title: like a newspaper headline, catchy, simple, short and snappy
  • Authors: include everyone who contributed to the poster and permitted you to use their name
  • Affiliations: organisations that are represented by the authors and the location where the research took place, with contact details
  • Headings:
    • Introduction: short background on the topic, aims and objectives
    • Methods: brief, written in a short bullet. It should include objectives, and basic parameters, including target sample, setting, study duration, inclusion/exclusion criteria, statistical techniques, key interventions assessed, and primary outcome measures, space permitting.
    • Results: data analysis and stratification, results which answer the stated hypothesis, pertinent and critical graphs, graphics, images, and tables
    • Conclusions: derive directly from the results section, include obvious confounders and limitations, key improvements, the potential for project expansion, and an impact statement if clinically applicable
    • References: only include those integral to your project

Additional Information[edit | edit source]

Additional information to mention in the bottom corner (usually in a smaller font) includes:

  • type of manuscript (if published work)
  • funding
  • ethical approval
  • QR code to your research or professional website (for example, LinkedIn, ResearchGate)

Tables, Figures, and Images[edit | edit source]

General rules[edit | edit source]
  • Keep graphs, images and figures above 13 centimetres by 15 centimetres
  • The graphic element should be relevant to the subject matter, clear, to the point, and attractive
  • Crop the image, keeping only the most essential aspects
  • Images are not fillers - each has a purpose
  • The best image format for poster creation is a high-resolution JPEG file
  • Use a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch or DPI
  • Use only images that are not protected or under copyright

Captions[edit | edit source]

Provide a short caption to the point underneath the image. Keep the word captions between 25 and 100 words.

Graphs[edit | edit source]

General rules[edit | edit source]
  • Simple to understand
  • Show relationships as clearly as possible
  • Created with the same text styles as the rest of the poster
  • Clear plotlines
  • Clearly-defined legend
  • Short, catchy title
  • Large enough text size on the axis labels

Software[edit | edit source]

The following are examples of the software for designing a poster: Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Publisher, Canva, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, Impress, Picto Chart, and Lucid Press.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Keys to Success[edit | edit source]

  • Important information should be readable from about 1 metre away
  • The title is short and draws interest
  • The most important findings should be placed in the middle of the poster, at eye level for most people
  • Word count of about 500 to 1000 words total, roughly 100 words per main section
  • The text is clear and to the point
  • Bullets, numbering, and headlines should be easy to read
  • Make effective use of graphics, colour and fonts
  • Have a consistent and clean layout (do not overcrowd your poster)
  • Includes acknowledgements, your name and institutional affiliations

Common Mistakes [4][edit | edit source]

  • Showing the exact intricate multipart figures that you used in a research paper
  • Having too much text (and in a font size that is too small)
  • The objective/main point is not instantly obvious
  • Poor quality graphics (use of blurry images copied from the Internet)
  • Poorly organised poster components; jagged edges, chaotic or untidy impression
  • Too much colour (remember that some individuals are colour-blind)
  • A dark or black background for your poster

Resources[edit | edit source]

  1. Ross-Hellauer T, Tennant JP, Banelytė V, Gorogh E, Luzi D, Kraker P, Pisacane L, Ruggieri R, Sifacaki E, Vignoli M. Ten simple rules for innovative dissemination of research. PLoS Comput Biol. 2020 Apr 16;16(4):e1007704
  2. Poster Presentations (Michigan State University)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Soon CSL, Tudor Car L, Ng CJ, Tan NC, Smith H. What Is the Utility of Posters? Qualitative Study of Participants at a Regional Primary Healthcare Conference in Asia. Med Sci Educ. 2022 Nov 3;32(6):1405-1412
  2. Kravchenko T, Bogdanova T, Shevgunov T. Ranking requirements using MoSCoW methodology in practice. InCybernetics Perspectives in Systems: Proceedings of 11th Computer Science On-line Conference 2022, Vol. 3 2022 Jul 5 (pp. 188-199). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  3. Miranda E. Moscow rules A quantitative exposé. InAgile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming: 23rd International Conference on Agile Software Development, XP 2022, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 13–17, 2022, Proceedings 2022 Jun 9 (pp. 19-34). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  4. Arcila Hernández L, Chodkowski N, Treibergs K. A Guide to Implementing Inclusive and Accessible Virtual Poster Sessions. J Microbiol Biol Educ. 2022 Mar 30;23(1):e00237-21.