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Research Posters and Presentations

Tips and Resources for creating a research poster.


The success of a poster is related to the clarity of its text, illustrations, and data.

  • Graphics should be self-explanatory
  • Text should supplement the graphic material
  • Use empty space between poster elements to differentiate and accentuate these elements.
  • Graphic materials should be visible easily from a minimum distance of 6 feet
  • Restrained use of 2-3 colors for emphasis is valuable; overuse is not
  • Want to have a balance of graphics and text


  • Use easy-to-read, Sans Serif fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Verdana.
  • Limit the number of fonts on your poster. Usually, researchers use one font for the title and headings and another for the text. This equals a total of two fonts per poster. 
  • Oregon State University has several approved fonts, to access them visit the University Relations & Marketing website, and ask for permission to utilize the fonts.  


****Make sure to get photos of yourself in the lab**** Ask a colleague or friend :D

One way to add meaning to your poster is to use images.

  1. You can find images on the web but you should start to get into the habit of using images legally and ethically. Use the resources below to locate free and reusable images. 
  2. You can legally use photos in four ways: 
  3. Generally speaking, photos as background images rarely look good. The image tends to overpower the text and make the poster hard to read. (If you must, you can fade out your image.) Instead, try using a background color or boxes to set off your text and images.

Use Images Wisely
Don't let your images (and a fancy poster) detract from your research findings. Your images and graphs should highlight your research and add something- not just serve as place fillers.

Charts and Graphs
Always include captions for any charts or graphs you use to explain your research findings.

Cite your Images
Be sure to give credit for all images and graphics you use in your poster, even if you took them yourself. 

Recommended File Types
Use PNG, TIF or JPEG files. 


Choose a simple yet dynamic color scheme before you begin to add content. We recommend sticking with the colors that complement the ones already in the template you use.  You can also choose from the color schemes in PowerPoint or utilize online color scheme generators. Here are a few websites that specialize in pre-made color palletes:

Some text and background color combinations are problematic.

  • Color Blindness: red and green together are difficult to differentiate for people who are color blind
  • Low Contrast: combinations like white and yellow do not have a high enough contrast to see clearly
  • Tone-on-tone: two tones of the same color are hard to read


Writing advice:

  • Visit the Undergraduate Research & Writing Studio on the main floor of the Valley Library
  • Use active voice when writing the text
  • Use short sentences, simple words, and bullets to illustrate discrete points.
  • Use left justification of text - not full justification
  • Size of text -- it should be large enough to be read from 6 feet away
  • Edit ruthlessly!  There is almost always too much text in a poster
  • Delete all redundant references & filler phrases
  • A poster is not a manuscript - no extra details about methods or huge data tables.  They are good dicussion topics for those stopping by, for a handout, or for a formal manuscript