Bildmakarna at Karolinska Institutet University Library

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Tips for creating scientific posters

This section of the Bildmakarna web site contains pages on things to consider when creating a scientific poster.

The aim of your poster

Your poster is an advertisement for your research and as such it needs to be eye-catching and straight to the point. You only have seconds, or at best a few minutes to attract the attention of the visitor to a poster session. Keep your message short and clear. If you succeed in getting the reader's attention, then chances are that you will be able to provide her/him with more detailed information in the form of handouts or printed articles. If you fail to attract the visitor’s attention, then it does not matter how interesting your research may be, since the visitor will never know about it.

Your message

Keeping your message clear and your text concise is the hardest part of poster design. You have probably spent years on the research behind the results you want to present and have long descriptions of your methods and conclusions accompanied by illustrations all of which you want to present in your poster. However, the chances are that you have far too much for a single poster.

You will need to learn to be ruthless in deciding what is relevant for this poster and getting your message across to your target group. Get an outsider to take a look at your poster – if they are unable to get your message within a couple of minutes then the chances are that you need to redesign your poster.

Common errors in poster design

  • Trying to convey too much information at one time
  • Too much text, too many words
  • Too long title
  • Too few illustrations
  • Too small typefaces
  • Too much details in graphs and diagrams
  • Too strong colors in the design
  • Too strong borders surrounding text boxes
  • Too small margins in text boxes
  • Too little white space between text blocks and illustrations
  • Non-logical presentation of results and parts in the research process

As you can see, the majority of the errors in poster design are caused by trying to squeeze too much information into one single poster.

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Page updated 2012-02-01 by Ulf Kronman