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Academic Posters

A guide to designing an academic poster

Simple guidelines to follow for a visually pleasing poster

Basic advice for design
  1. A simple design is best.
  2. Make important information "jump out" at the viewer.
  3. Line content up - use common margins.
  4. Blank space is good - let the content breathe.

Size: The Learning Commons can print on a 24" roll of paper, so posters can be 24" x 36" or 24" x 46" in size. Landscape orientation is best.

Layout: Use columns to arrange the content. 4 or 5 equal-width columns are recommended; some of the columns can be double-wide. Choose a layout that works best for your content (including text, charts, graphs, images, etc.)

Background: use white or a subtle colour/gradient. Don't make it compete with your content!

Section Headings: make them stand out by using a larger font, bold type, and/or colour boxes. Use separate text boxes for the headings so that they are easier to edit or format separately from the text in the sections themselves.

Font and Font Size: Use sans serif fonts that are easy to read. Avoid novelty fonts or serif fonts. Use the same fonts and font sizes consistently for the same type of content. The below examples are just suggestions:

  • Title: bold, size at least 70 pt
  • Authors: 40 - 50 pt
  • Headings: 36 - 44 pt
  • Body text: 20 - 24 pt
  • Captions: 16 - 18 pt

Suggested fonts

Fonts to avoid

Colours: We all love colours.... but, on a poster, colours cannot be distracting or cause the viewer reach for their sunglasses! For our college, you can incorporate the GPRC colour palette into your design, or pick your own colour scheme. A good suggestion is to use neutral colours complemented by bolder text boxes for titles and headings. If you have a particular colour scheme that is associated with your topic, use that. If you have images with a certain colour scheme, those colours could also be used as accent colours on the poster.

Example of using NWP colours Example of using NWP colours

Other samples for pleasing colour combinations:

Text colour: make sure to use contrasting colours for the text and its background. Remember that simple is best. Use dark lettering on a white or light background. Avoid using white/light text on dark background for a large amount of text, as it is hard to read.

Content alignment: Arranging the content, headings, text, charts, and other graphics is important as well. Make everything line up, and at the same time let your content breathe. Don't be afraid to use blank space in between elements - it actually draws attention to your content and makes it easier for the viewer to follow your points.