Top Tips for designing an academic poster…

…by Phoebe / from the United Kingdom / PhD Tissue Repair 2013-2017

So as I have just completed this task myself I thought I would shed some light on how I went about designing my academic poster for the Summer School 😀

The first thing to do is look at the abstract you submitted in order to be granted a poster, and think about the information you need to elaborate on each of the sections you included there. In this way you are presenting the work you promised when you submitted the abstract!

  1. Introduction- this should be brief but cover all the important background areas you have investigated to address your title, for example mine was 170 words and approached menstruation in terms of it being an inflammatory event, then discussed what is known and unknown about immune cells in this process. I finished with the aims of the current study.
  2. Methods- this should outline everything that was done to gain your results and I included a nice schematic of the mouse model of menstruation so that people could visualise the process. You want to briefly outline the methods you used to address each result you will present, as you don’t want someone to not understand where a result has come from.
  3. Results- I chose three sets of results which nicely addressed the aims of the study and outlined the abstract results in a lot more detail. I structured each result to have a figure of multiple sections (A, B, C, D etc make sure figures are appropriately labelled for ease of understanding!) and a comprehensive figure legend, then some text about what these results were suggesting. Alternatively this could have been structured so the legend was relatively brief and the text explained the whole result or even with a more detailed figure legend and no intervening text. It is personal preference really!
  4. Summary/conclusions- the summary highlights the main results in a brief sentence each while the conclusion shows the main outcomes of the study as a whole- big successes and main learning outcomes from the study!
  5. Acknowledgements and references can be relatively small on the poster but vital none the less 😀 I had 7 references but again this depends on how many you used!

In terms of the layout this will be determined by whether the poster is to be landscape or portrait and also the data you are displaying (results images, graphs , size and groupings etc). Two or three columns would be preferred especially if it is a large sized poster. Mine is A0 so it is pretty huge but now it has been printed I have decided I like the size 😀 And the colour scheme will depend on the whether the centre you are representing has a set standard. I was to use a navy blue banner with the University of Edinburgh crest and MRC-CIR logo and I also incorporated the ENII logo as this is where I am presenting. I kept a blue theme throughout the rest. However this is something that again is personal and if discussed with the appropriate supervisors I guess anything goes!

So have fun and I hope you design beautiful posters 😀

GOOD LUCK and THANK YOU for reading!


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