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Academic Posters

What is an Academic Poster?

An academic poster is a common way to visually demonstrate research to an audience. They are used widely at conferences. An academic poster is designed to show research in a concise way, usually with the use of graphics and/or pictures and a relatively small amount of text- somewhere between 300-500 words.

An academic poster should grab the audience’s attention and enable them to understand your research quickly.

Your audience

One of the key things to consider before starting to plan your poster is your audience. If they are researchers, peers, the public or students, the message in the poster may be slightly different. You’ve got to consider how much knowledge your audience has about your topic and research to decide the kind of terminology you would include.

Designing your poster


The orientation of an academic poster could be landscape or portrait depending on how you think your information will be displayed best.

The size should also be the most appropriate to your poster and where it’ll be displayed, although posters tend to usually be larger than A4. This website may be of use to check page sizes.

Once you’ve decided which orientation and size to use, set your page size correctly in whichever software you’re using to design your poster before beginning to design.


The text you use on your posters will also have an impact on your overall design and your audience. This includes the font you choose, the size and the layout of the text. The style and appearance of text in a design is often referred to as typography.

Here are a couple of general tips for using text in your academic poster-

  • Use only a maximum of 2 fonts - this will make it easier for the audience to read
  • Limit your use of underlining, CAPITALS and italics
  • Titles, headings and subheadings are great for organising and giving your poster a flow
  • Make sure your main titles are visible from a distance

Tips and tutorials on choosing different typography.
Find out which fonts work well together.


Having a complimentary colour palette is important within design. For your academic poster it is useful to only use 2-3 colours, plus black for the smaller text.

Tips about choosing colours.

This website quickly generates colour schemes that you can include within your designs.

If you’ve seen some colours you like and want to use, this website lets you upload your images to see the colours that are included and suggests colours you could use in your design for text or other elements.

The colour tools above include the Hex code of each colour, which you can use in software like Photoshop for your designs.

Visual imagery

Visual imagery is a great way to display data and information to your audience without using lots of words. With any images used please be aware of copyright licenses and how to avoid them.

The use of charts, graphs and tables are a great way to add data to your poster.

Within PowerPoint you can add various elements to create images within your infographic.

The use of SmartArt and Chart graphics within PowerPoint is a great way of adding visual representations of data.

SmartArt in PowerPoint

Also, for Office 365 (2016) on Windows you can add in icons.

Proof Read!

Before you go to print read over your poster carefully to make sure you’ve corrected any mistakes.


Using accessible audio, text and visuals.


Academic poster example