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PSYC 312 Research Methods in Psychology II: Research Posters


Poster Layout, Color, and Fonts

About Research Posteres

Why Posters?

  • Communicate your research
  • It should attract attention (and be attractive)
  • It should communicate effectively (comfortably and clearly)
  • Design for the situation; standalone and/or accompanied poster session?
  • The poster is a visual aid to your research story, more so if you are standing by the poster during the session


Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is widely available and can be used to design posters.  As a presentation tool, however, it is not designed for many of the precise layout tasks that are necessary in good poster design.  Here are a few tips on making PowerPoint work for your poster design:

Page Setup

Find the Page Setup tool (on Windows, it may be under the "Design" tab on the ribbon; on Mac, it may be under the File menu). For "Slides sized for", select "Custom" and set the size in inches (e.g., 48 inches for the width, 36 inches for the height).

Text Boxes

Often you will use text boxes to add and organize elements within your poster.  Text boxes should be positioned and sized precisely, instead of letting PowerPoint reshape them based on the text inside.

  • Text Box:
    • When you insert a text box (Insert > Text Box), immediately right click and select "Format Shape". Select "Do not autofit"
    • Change the Internal Margin values to make sense for a poster - perhaps 0.5" for left and right and .25" for top and bottom

In addition to the Text Box settings, however, you will likely need to adjust the paragraph settings. Right-click on any text to format the "Paragraph...”

  • Spacing:
    • Line spacing affects the readability of blocks of text.
    • A good default for PowerPoint is "Multiple: 1.25", but this can be reduced for shorter lines of text and increased for longer.


  • Left alignment is (usually) easier to read
  • Avoid "orphaned" words (single-word lines) at the end of the paragraph


  • Make it simple but attractive to the readers
  • Include authors below the title
  • Add a footnote for affiliations of the authors


  • Summarize the research project
  • Include the study’s objective(s), design, results and conclusion(s)


  • Include the rationale and importance of study
  • State the hypothesis or research question that was tested


  • Provide sufficient information to judge the validity of the study
  • Include sample size, study design, data collection and analytic methods, outcome and exposure measures


  • Present your key findings using mainly tables and figures
  • Keep the results as simple as possible


  • Interpret your results in the context of your study as well as the literature
  • Provide readers with what is new from your study

Acknowledgements and References

  • Citations
  • Thanking people who helped (not co-authors)
  • Funding used for this project


  • Left alignment is (usually) easier to read
  • Avoid "orphaned" words (single-word lines) at the end of the paragraph
  • Poster should be easily seen from 3 feet
  • Use fonts that are easy to read

  • Keep a simple and consistent color scheme
  • Effectively use blank space


  • Title: 72-120pt
  • Authors: 56pt
  • Subtitles: 48-80pt
  • Body Text: 24-48pt
  • Captions: 12-18pt

Design Tips for Posters


  • Whenever possible, use self-explanatory, stand-alone graphics
  • Let the graphics explain the work, not the text

If you will be using images within your content, it is important to know a little bit about image files and how much detail those files need to have.

Image resolution is a measure of the amount of information that can be displayed in different environments.  For example, the computer I am using is 1280 pixels across the width of the screen and is about 20" wide.  If I have an image, that is 400 pixels wide and I zoom in so that it covers my whole screen, the computer will have to create another 880 pixels.  This is why images look blurry when we zoom in too close.

Resolution becomes more of a problem for printing, since people cannot zoom in and out of an image once it has been printed. For printing, you can reduce an image without losing quality, but you should never increase its original size, so the higher the resolution the better.


  • Two or three main colors
  • No rainbows!

Color can be used to enhance a presentation, but it should be used sparingly and with caution to the cultural associations of certain colors.

The rule of 3 colors - A super simple tool you can use whenever you are in doubt. You cannot go wrong with it. The rule of 3 colors is simple: pick one primary color. Then, pick two other complementary colors.


Poster Templates