Tips for an effective research poster design

Research poster design example

For academics, producing a research poster often marks the end of a long period of work, and presents an opportunity to generate interest in their research and the findings of an investigation. A well-presented research poster should attract attention, generate interest and prompt further discussion. Often used in a conference setting (although these are currently mostly happening online) it should act as a honeypot, drawing in visitors as they pass.



In a busy conference, where footfall and competition is high, your title needs to be both clear and engaging. Of course your title will be a reflection of your study, but it should be presented in a clear to read font, large enough to be taken in from a distance of 2m. Ensure your text colour contrasts well with any background colour.

Subheadings using the same font, or a complimentary one, should be used to indicate the different sections of the poster. The layout should be logical with a clear flow through the sections. Make sure all the titles use the same format to help create a consistent design.



Having spent months or years working on your project, it difficult to condense all your information into a suitable amount for a research poster. You should aim to convey just the main points, and leave the details for more in depth discussion. Bullet points can be a great way to summarise as they can be read from a distance.



You may have a lot of data to present. Traditionally this might be presented in graphs and charts. Infographics can be helpful to provide other more interesting ways to present and allow easy visual comparison of different data sets. Infographics can also be used to show progression, information flows etc. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so if you are struggling to condense your text, why not make use of icons or simple illustrations to convey an idea. This can make your poster more visually appealing, and can make complex information appear more approachable.



You may choose to include photographs in your poster. These can be specific to the area of research, part of your findings, or they could be more general, to set the context. Either way, you should ensure they are good quality pictures (300dpi is recommended for print, 150dpi is a minimum for large format printing) and you have the correct permissions to use the images. It is good practice to state the source of any image which you have not taken yourself.



A research poster needs to take the reader on the journey to your discovery. As such this should be reflected in the design. In addition to a clear titling system, use visual aids such as numbering, arrows and shaped backgrounds to clearly define the stages on your research process and carefully guide your reader through the information. Logically organised information is easier to process and will set context and add impact to the outcome.



Typically, a research poster will be A2 or A1 size, which potentially gives you a lot of space to present your content. It can be tempting to fill the whole area with content, however, your poster will have greater impact if you leave some empty space.



Your choice of colours might come down to a few factors.


If your project has been sponsored by your employer or an organisation, you may be asked to include their branding and colour scheme. Or you may have a collection of sponsors, in which case it may be more appropriate to choose a neutral scheme which works with all the brands.


Maybe the subject matter is strongly linked to a particular colour scheme, for example green is an obvious colour to use for a topic relating to the environment. You could choose this, or colours which complement the main colour.


If brand and topic do not lend themselves to a colour scheme, then perhaps you have a nice photo within your content which could be used to build a colour theme.

Cultural context

In different cultures colours can have different associations. It is worth being mindful of this if you are presenting your work overseas.

A Simple colour scheme using a main colour, a paler shade and an accent colour can be effective if you have a lot of content. Using bright colours can attract attention, but may not be appropriate in some cases.

If you are planning to use colour on your text, make sure it contrasts well with the background colours to make it easy to read.

Whatever is the main driver for your colour scheme, make sure it is clear and consistent.


Something memorable

In a sea of faces and print you need to ensure your poster will be remarkable and unforgettable. This can be achieved by tailoring your design to fit your audience. You will need to be led by your subject matter too, of course, but do not be afraid to use graphics to help your poster stand out. A well-chosen illustration or icon can add a pinch of personality or humour and can help the reader connect to the subject matter and your project in particular.


Call to action (for further info)

What are your aspirations for this project? Do you want to make personal contacts; do you wish to increase exposure of your subject matter. A carefully worded call to action can help with this. Make sure it doesn’t distract from your content whilst still being easy to find and read.

If you are looking to have your poster professionally designed, check out research poster design page for more details and get in touch with us if you would like a quote for the design and/or print of your poster.



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