Blog de Comunicación Académica

Técnicas de comunicación académica en español e inglés como lenguas extranjeras

Designing and writing conference posters

Many conferences have a slot for “poster sessions”. In these, researchers put up a large poster to display their work, and then they usually stand beside it to answer questions. This is a good method for telling people about work in progress, or about large projects that you are involved in.

If you are starting to design a poster, it is vital to remember that posters must be:

  • Focused
  • Ordered
  • Visual

Focus your ideas

When you are designing your poster, it is very important to be clear about your main idea. You must make sure that the audience can understand that idea immediately. This means that you have to think carefully about the title, the section headings and the main images. Poster titles are often written as phrases (“Effects of music on examination performance”) but may also be full sentences (“Aspirin prevents heart disease”) or questions (“Does aspirin prevent heart disease?”).

Order the information

Regarding design, people usually read from top to bottom and from left to right, so it may be a good idea to order your poster in this way. Many posters retain the conventional IMRaD (Introduction, Material and Method, Results and Discussion) structure used in empirical research, but distribute the different sections in columns or labelled blocks around the poster. The method and results can easily be communicated in visual form, but remember to give them headings so that people can understand them quickly.

Make it visually attractive

The art of creating a good poster varies a little from one discipline to another, but one thing is always true: a poster is a visual medium, and so it is not enough just to include text. Posters should be pleasing to the eye, and should contain colourful photographs, diagrams or graphs. They also need text, but this should always be large enough to read.

When you are choosing colours, it is better to avoid dark backgrounds, and to keep within a range of two or three colours for the text and images. Try to arrange the images and text in a way that is pleasant to look at: a good balance of colours, images and text is important. Above all, do not try to cram in too much information: it is useful to leave some light space, because this makes your poster look cleaner and tidier.

The following websites contain links to some excellent examples, as well as templates that can be used to create attractive posters: