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Guidelines for Poster Presentations

New Poster Guidelines

A poster presentation is a graphically oriented summary of your research project. It consists of a collection of frames, displayed at eye-level on one side of a freestanding double-sided whiteboard.

  • The College of Graduate Studies will be providing freestanding double-sided whiteboards in which you will affix your poster with magnets. Magnets will be provided. 
  • Posters must be no larger than the 48" wide x 36" tall in order to fit on the whiteboard.
  • Students should only bring their printed out poster the day of the event.
  • All presentation information should be within your poster, as there will be no available space in front of your poster for displaying items.
  • Your title should be appropriate for a general academic audience; make it interesting and informative.
  • The poster presentation should be self-contained and complete without additional oral explanation.
  • Each frame of the poster presentation should contain a text block, a graphic, or a combination of the two elements.
  • Your presentation will be judged by faculty members. Judging will be based on the setup and visual appeal, clarity of your introduction, organizational flow, conclusion statements, audience analysis, and convincing proof of research potential and world relevance.
  • During the specified judging times at the Graduate Research Forum, the presenting author will be required to be at their poster station. Authors should be prepared to explain their presented work.

Constructing Your Poster 

Suggested Format

Your poster should be formatted with the following sections

  • Title: Include a banner frame clearly stating the title of the poster.
  • Abstract: Display your abstract on one frame, accompanied by your name and department on one frame. Clearly articulate what you did, how you did it, why you did it, and what it contributes to your field and the larger field of human knowledge.
  • Introduction: Specify the main argument of your study, provide an overview of what you did, the evidence that supports that argument, and point out the significance and value of the research. Be succinct in this one-frame element.
  • Method: Use at least one frame to present how you conducted your project.
  • Results: Indicate what your research has revealed.
  • Conclusion: Include an explanation of the ways the results satisfy the research objective. Illustrate how your findings impact scholars in your field and members of the broader intellectual community.

Project incomplete? Scholars often present their work before their projects are complete. If you are working on a project for a class, you may not have your final results or final product by March when the Forum will take place.

  • If you have any preliminary results, use them as examples of the kind of results you hope to obtain. Discuss the significance of these results.
  • If you don't have any preliminary results, you can focus on projected results: what do you think you might find when your results are complete?
  • Whether you have complete, partial, or only projected results, keep in mind that your explanation of those results—their significance—is more important than the raw results themselves.

Suggested Layout and Design

  • Textual explanations should be kept to a minimum. Don't overwhelm with information.
    • Decide on a small number of key points that you want your judges to take away from your presentation, and you will need to articulate those ideas clearly and concisely.
    • Make text readable from a distance of two meters (use 18-24 point fonts). Don't make text smaller in order to fit more onto the poster.
    • Use 1.5- or double-spacing to make the text easier to read.
  • Make your poster visually interesting.
    • Use color to add impact and visual appeal.
    • Make your main points easy to find by emphasizing them (bold, italicize, colored, or enclosed in text boxes) and setting them off with bullets or numbers.
  • At least 50 percent of the poster presentation should be figures (i.e., charts, graphs, and illustrations). Be creative in the graphical and pictorial representation of your research.
    • Try using a variety of figure types. Limit your use of tables.
    • Provide clear captions for all figures.
  • Limit poster presentations to 12 frames.
  • Keep wording simple and avoid heavy jargon. Your faculty judges may not be in the same discipline as you, so don't assume they will be familiar with technical details.
    • Additionally, your writing on the poster board materials should not be in the same style as the writing in your research paper. Writing for poster must be concise, precise, and straightforward.
      • Example:
        Wording in a Paper:
        This project sought to establish the ideal specification for clinical useful wheelchair pressure mapping systems, and to use these specifications to influence the design of an innovative wheelchair pressure mapping system.
        Wording on a Poster:
        Aims of study: Define the ideal wheelchair pressure mapping system.
        Design a new system to meet these specifications.
  • In general, people expect information to flow left-to-right and top-to-bottom. Viewers are best able to absorb information from a poster with several columns that progress from left to right.
    • Even within these columns, however, there are certain places where viewers' eyes naturally fall first and where they expect to find information.

GRF Poster View

Presenting Your Poster

  • Know your material thoroughly. Remind yourself about those small details you left out of the poster, you may be able to bring them up in discussions with judges.
  • Practice and rehearse your speech at home, and in front of a mirror, your friends, family, or colleagues. Record yourself presenting (the Graduate Student Center Presentation and Conference Rooms have a recording resource available to you) and analyze it.
  • Look pleasant, enthusiastic, confident, proud (but not arrogant), and remain calm. Speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and show appropriate feeling and emotion relating to your topic.
  • Present your material in a format similar to a written research paper, with an INTRODUCTION (thesis statement) to BODY (strong supporting arguments, accurate and up-to-date information) to CONCLUSION (re-state, summarize, and logical conclusion).
  • Do not read from your notes or your poster board for any extended length of time.
  • Use this opportunity as a practice for an actual professional or academic presentation. Treat this as a true conference presentation and you will get real feedback about your performance.


Poster Printing

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