Communication Skills

Preparing a Scientific Poster

Scientific posters range widely in content, format and unfortunately, at most scientific conferences, quality. The purpose of these notes is to introduce you to techniques for making an effective poster. A lot more goes into it than you might think. There are considerations of the size and amount of text, the size and type of graphs, and the role and number of pictures, including decorative ones. The goal of a scientific poster is to give the viewer an encapsulation of your work, as effectively as possible, in the shortest amount of space and time.

BEFORE YOU PREPARE YOUR POSTER, look at some of the posters around the School. Think about whether or not each poster is effective by considering the following questions:

  • Is the objective clearly stated?
  • Is the information laid out logically?
  • Is it concisely written, so that the point is made without unnecessary detail?
  • Is it easy to read? Is it interesting?
  • Is it easy to see from a distance?
  • Is the level of detail appropriate for the audience?
  • Do you feel that it adequately addresses the topic in the space given?

If any poster does not meet all of these criteria, why not? What would you do to change it?

Poster Checklist

  • Size: your poster should be no longer or wider than 80 cm.
  • Title: Easy to read, relevant and informative.
  • Written information: concise, relevant and readable from at least 2 metres away (at least 18 point type). Not too much text in one place.
  • Is there a theme that links all the information together?
  • Consider how the viewer would proceed through the information - is there a logical sequence?
  • Pleasing to the eye. Text and figures/photos sensibly and attractively incorporated.
  • Each figure is referred to in the text of the poster.
  • Reference citations are included in the text.
  • All photographs, graphs or diagrams are referenced. (You should include the name of the photographer on photographs.)
  • Your name (NOT your student number) appears on the FRONT of the poster.

This is an example of a marking scheme for a poster assignment



Things to consider



organised; easy to follow; neat
font readable; title eye-catching
free from garish colours and fussy additions
quality of illustrations; effective use of graphics
overall impression (would I stop to read it amongst twenty others?)



free of spelling/grammatical errors
free of factual errors
topic covered in appropriate detail
referencing (including photo references)
journal references used

Answered question


incorporated theme
aim of poster achieved
appropriate level of detail for audience