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Impossible to ignore: How to create a memorable scientific poster

3 min read
Jul 25, 2019
Designing Poster

There’s something about poster sessions that makes them less intriguing than they should be. Like other scientists, you’ve probably found yourself wandering through the aisles of a conference poster exhibit room looking for a single poster that sparks your attention, but nothing ends up catching your eye.

While the goal of any poster is to get people’s attention and help them understand your research in the easiest possible way, the reality is that most of them don’t catch the eye of the passerby, unless they specialize in the same topic as you.

If you’re trying to figure out how to attract people’s attention to your research and make a splash at your next poster session, here are a few tips to follow.


The Content: Posters should be a teaser

The biggest flaw of many scientific posters is that they are jammed packed with a ton of information and way too much text. But sometimes less is more as it can intrigue the audience. Besides, no one wants to stand there reading endless content! Posters should be a teaser instead that catches someone’s attention enough to make them want to talk with you. Only then, as people come forward, you can dive into the details behind your poster.

Therefore, display the information in a minimalistic way. This includes text, graphs/images, and scientific jargon. You must become a master of exclusion in order to strip the main message of your research to its core.

Here are some tips you can use to follow this approach:

  • Have a short and concise headline. Think of a slogan that summarizes your main findings.
  • Stay away from complicated technical writing.
  • Avoid abstracts, your poster is an abstract.
  • Display only the results that represent the main findings of your work.
  • Include your contact information on your poster in case someone has more questions or would like to network with you.


The Design: Go for an infographic-like format

Infographics are an ideal format for posters as they are designed to present information quickly and easily. They can take the hard-to-digest information within scientific research and transform it into something interesting and fun for the audience.

Besides the format, other key elements in designing a poster include colors, fonts, and background images. Here are some design tips you should consider:

  • Colors: While they can help your poster stand out, too much of it can be confusing. Try to use a limited number of colors and prefer using them to highlight key takeaways.
  • Fonts: Choose easy-to-read fonts and avoid using too many different types. When choosing their size, make sure the audience can read them from one meter away.
  • Background images: Avoid using them. They’re too distracting and may affect the readability of your poster.


The Layout: Make it easy for the viewer to navigate through your poster

There’s no rule on how to arrange the content of your poster, that’s up to your own taste. But whatever you do, make sure that there’s a flow the reader can follow. A great way to do this, is by creating a visual hierarchy i.e. displaying information in an order, to suggest importance. This will guide the eye of the audience through your poster and help them comprehend the flow of your research more easily.

You can use sections with headers to make the logical flow easier to follow. Bullet points are also good elements that can be used to show questions, methods, results and conclusions.


Printing: There’s no need to shine

Shiny and glossy papers can create annoying reflections. Therefore, choose matte paper instead. Other good alternatives include canvas and cloth, which you can just fold into your suitcase. As for resolution, it should be around 300 dpi (dots per inch) for high quality.


A successful poster will not only catch the audience’s attention, but will nicely outline your research. Follow the tips above and be ready to spice up the next poster session.