Designing a good poster

Jennifer Kay, Rowan University Computer Science Department

What the heck is supposed to be on my poster??

First, take a look at my poster on how to make a poster.

Think of a poster as an advertisement of your work. When coke is trying to come up with a print ad campaign, I'm betting they think, "what can we do to make people actually read our ad rather than just turning the page." You need to think two things:

The answer to the second question is somewhat dependent upon your audience. If you expect a mixed crowd - some people who may be very familiar with the concepts in your work and some who may have no clue, then it's a good idea to include all of the following on your poster: Your poster doesn't have to have every detail about your work in it. Most of the time you will use your poster like a kind of a one-shot powerpoint presentation - you'll be standing next to it talking to people about your work, and you can reference things on your poster as necessary.

Typically a poster is presented at a poster session - you along with a bunch of other people are going to be in a room standing next to your posters. You want to tell people about your work. Some people may be interested in hearing about your work regardless of what your poster looks like. But typically most people will be wandering around glancing at the posters and trying to figure out which ones are most interesting.

It's important that your poster is readable from a distance. Generally, a good rule of thumb is if you shrink your poster to fit on your screen and it looks like a nice handout (i.e. you can still easily read everything) it's probably pretty good.

Fast Facts


First, take a look at my poster on how to make a poster.
When I started working on that poster, I ended up with something that was pretty good, but too busy. So it's a bad poster, but has more details that you might want to take a look at. Here's a pdf version and a powerpoint version.

Using the CS department wide format printers

Preparing for STEM

Preparing for other conferences

Sample Posters

I have copies of some posters on-line for you to look at. Some of them are excellent, and some are not-so-good. You make the call.


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Last updated 4/20/05