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Creating a Conference Poster

Font Tips

  • Choose at most 2 simple to read font types and only using 3 or 4 iterations of each
    • For example you might have a standard headline iteration for the body text of your poster, an iteration that is italicized and smaller for the caption, an iteration that is bolded and slightly larger for chart headlines, and an iteration that is much smaller for your work cited section.  For the other font, you might have various iterations for your title, author information, and content block titles.
  • Font size guidelines
    • 100/66/33 size rule
      • Whatever size you make your poster title, the content block title should be 2/3 of that size, and the body text should be 1/3 of that size
    • At least 24 pt font
    • Title should be 1 inch or more

Text Tips

  • Use sentence case, all caps is hard to read
  • Use bold and italics (sparingly)
  • All body text should be left aligned
  • 40 characters per line, 4-5 lines per paragraph
  • Avoid line break hyphen

Graphic Tips

  • Rule of Thirds
    • The rule of thirds is a concept in photography that pictures where the main object of the picture is centered are less interesting than pictures where it is not.  If you mentally place a grid over your picture (a line 1/3 and 2/3 of the way from the left, as well as 1/3 and 2/3 of the way from the top), your main object of interest should be at the intersection of two of those lines.

  • Making pictures pop
    • If you place a 1 pt grey or black border around your picture, the picture is more noticeable. 
  • Sometimes it can be difficult to determine to determine if your picture will appear distorted or pixilated once printed.  To avoid this problem,
    • Make sure all images have a resolution of at least 300 dpi
    • Copy and the paste the picture from the application you are creating the poster in into another application (do not change the size).  Try printing the picture out on 8.5x11 paper to see how it looks. 

Figure Tips

  • Include clear labeling
  • Keep axis simple
  • Every chart should have one main point
  • Avoid 3D graphics, they are harder to comprehend visually
  • Thicken line on charts, a 1pt line is difficult to see from further away


  • Avoid using different opacities - some large format printers can't process opacities
  • Choose two or three colors, plus black - the more colors you add the more overwhelming the poster might seem
  • Single background color - patterned and picture backgrounds can be distracting to readers
  • Which colors?
    • Dark text, light/pastel background - it is far easier to read dark text on light backgrounds then vice-versa 
    • From graphics - taking your colors from your graphics can create a more polished look
    • Organizational colors - some institutions encourage their faculty and staff to use 
    • Avoid red and green together - the most common form of color blindness is differentiating between greens and reds
    • Shades of same color - using different shades of the same color can often create a refined look
    • Complementary colors - using colors that are on opposite ends of the color wheel often look good together:

color wheel