How to Create Professional Posters

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Poster Basics
You can create your poster (with a Mac or a PC) using PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator, Canvas, or any other program. The poster must be one page and in English. Poster dimensions are as follows: The maximum width is 48 inches (130 cm); the maximum height is 36 inches (100 cm). The file size may not exceed 25MB, and you must save your file as a PDF. The virtual poster software does not recognize any other file formats.

Poster design can significantly enhance or severely diminish the effectiveness of your presentation. The guidelines are general considerations.

Poster Design

  • Focus of attention: The focus of attention must be on the subject content. If the design overshadows the subject matter, the message is likely to be lost.
  • Size and selection of visuals: Larger visuals attract more attention. Visuals not relevant to the content will distract the viewer.
  • Density of visuals and text (labels): Too many visuals (pictures) and text (labels) in a small space decreases readers’ attention, because each object is in competition with the others. Minimize these to prevent stimulus overload! Generally, a maximum length of 50-75 words per label results in a higher probability of people reading it.
  • Ability to read text: Letters should be large so that they can easily be read from 2-3 feet away. Letters should be easily read (avoid Old English and other “fancy” fonts).

Poster Layout

  • Use a consistent layout with heading and subheading font and size standardized;
  • Use bulleted lists to facilitate reading;
  • Relate the content of the text to the picture it describes;
  • Reduce competing stimuli—Avoid placing a large number of labels and visuals next to one another; and
  • Provide good contrast between the text and background (avoid white on white, blue on navy, etc.).

Other Resources

Recent Winning Posters

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