Designing Effective Posters

Learn how to design and publish effective posters. This guide includes sections on design elements, the poster design process, and using software to create posters.

Content

Design Elements

Content

Content is, of course, critical to creating a successful poster. Here are some key points to consider related to content.

Clear Purpose

Clearly state the purpose of your poster. If you don't clearly state what your purpose is, you probably don't know what it is. And if you don't know what your purpose is, you don't know what you are trying to communicate.

Your purpose also needs to be clear to your audience. If your audience doesn't know what you are trying to communicate, they will lose interest.

Relevant and Significant

Your poster needs to be relevant to your intended audience, and the information in it needs to be relevant to your stated purpose.

The information should be significant, or of value to your intended audience. If the information is trivial or if it is common knowledge, it is probably not worth putting it into a poster.

Essential

Is all the information in the poster essential to your message?

Posters are not the same as research papers. Posters are intended to boil down a project or topic to its bare essentials, not provide details or supporting documentation. If some of your information is relevant but not essential to your main points, don't include it. Consider putting non-essential "nice to know" information in a supplementary handout.

Organized

Good organzation is key to good communication. Good organization involves breaking down your content into logical categories. Organize your information into major sections. For example, a poster describing a quantitative study might include section headings such as:

  • Background or Introduction
  • Purpose or Objectives
  • Methods or Procedures
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Lessons Learned or Future Plans

Break down the major sections into subtopics or bulleted paragraphs.

Clear and Concise

  • Boil down information into bullet points where possible.
  • Avoid wordiness and jargon.
  • Use active voice.
  • Use vocabularly that your audience understands
  • Spell Out Acronyms The First Time You Use Them (SOATFTYUT).

Let's Practice!

Go to the Content example on the Design Elements: Examples page, evaluate a poster, and compare your evaluation with ours!

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