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Poster Presentations

This guide provides information on creating posters for conference presentations.

Elements of a Poster

Your poster should include these elements:

  • Title
  • Author(s), with affiliations and emails

If your poster is a representation of a research study, you will want to include the following sections:

  • Introduction or objective
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Conclusions and/or discussion
  • Acknowledgements

If your poster is a representation of an event or other kind of project, you may want to forego formal abstract sections in favor of the 5 Ws:

  • Who (introduce the author, organization, or community)
  • What (what did you do? how did you do it?)
  • Where (where did you do it?)
  • When (when did it take place?)
  • Why (what are the outcomes, implications, or future possibilities?)
  • Acknowledgements

Change Size in Powerpoint

To change the size in Powerpoint:

  1. Go to the Design tab and choose "Slide Size" (it's on the right size of the ribbon)
  2. Choose "Custom Slide Size"
  3. Change "Slides sized for:" to "Custom"
  4. Fill in your desired width and height. 

Using the Ruler, Grid, and Guides in Powerpoint

Click the View tab to see checkboxes that will allow you to turn on the Ruler, Grid, and Guides (click the image below to see a screenshot).

Powerpoint ribbon location

Ruler: Allows you to see the dimensions of your slide. You'll see a vertical and horizontal ruler.

Grid: By default, the gridlines are 1 inch apart. Right click in white space of your poster to get more options for spacing. This enables precise alignment.

Guides: By default, you'll get one horizontal and one vertical guide placed in the center of your poster. Right click on a guide to add more guidelines, or to delete one. You can use Guides to invisibly define columns of your poster, margins, and more. This gives you manual control, alternatively, you can use Smart Guides (see below).

Smart Guides: Powerpoint has a built-in system for showing you alignment as you move objects around. The video below demonstrates what Smart Guides look like.

More Powerpoint Training

Once you've got your slide layout set, you'll want to start creating Shapes and Text Boxes. Here are some tips and tricks for working with objects:

  • Use Ctrl+D to duplicate any object.
  • Hold down Ctrl to select multiple objects.
    • Then you can format them all at once, identically!
    • You can also group them, for easier movement and alignment (right click to see the Group option).

Template Resources

Most posters are landscape (horizontal) orientation. The title/author(s) will be across the top, with 3–4 columns below that contain the rest of the poster elements. Make sure you leave plenty of white space in your design—a poster crammed full of text and images is very difficult to read.

Here is an example of a 2 column poster layout using the 5 Ws for headings (who, what, where, when, and why):

Use the links below to download this template and other similar templates in two sizes: 24x36 and 36x48. These templates include a variety of placeholder elements for photos and figures.

Below are some additional web resources where you can search for templates. Keep in mind that you may need adjust the size of a template for your own poster. Alternatively, you can use the resources on this page to design your own layout in Powerpoint.

Text Size

  • The body of your poster should have a minimum 24 point font. Viewers should be able to read your smallest text from a few feet away.
  • The title of your poster should have a 50+ font size, depending on the size of your poster and the length of the title.
  • Do not use all uppercase letters for the title or body of the poster.

Font Choice

  • Avoid using more than 2 or 3 different fonts in one poster.
  • Stick with basic fonts like Times New Roman or Georgia for serif, or Arial or Helvetica for sans-serif. Avoid elaborate, difficult-to-read, or cartoon-like fonts.
  • .

Text Alignment

  • In general, left-align your text boxes (with the possible exception of your title and any image captions). Avoid centering the text on your whole poster.