Poster Presentation Information

Poster sessions are frequently used as a means to convey information in a brief format in classrooms, conferences and symposia, and workshops. Designing effective poster presentations is an art unto itself. This guide provides resources to make the process easier.

"It takes intelligence, even brilliance, to condense and focus information into a clear, simple presentation that will be read and remembered. Ignorance and arrogance are shown in a crowded, complicated, hard-to-read poster." Mary Helen Briscoe

Posters provide a mechanism to facilitate the rapid communication of ideas. The poster presentation is NOT the pasting of a scholarly article on poster board or foam-core and standing by to defend the results reproduced in miniature on the "poster." However, it is far too often that one attends a conference poster session and finds this format to dominate the method of poster presentations.

The poster presentation should represent a “...well-designed, eye-catching, and engaging... display of research or scientific information.” The poster should convey the results of scholarly activities as to promote the achievements of the poster's presenter.

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SSD Poster Presentation Guidelines

Included below are a collection of guidelines and tips for preparing and delivering your poster presentation during Student Scholars Day. It is crucial that these guidelines are followed closely to avoid any problems on the day of the event.

Updated Presenter Information

Before the day of the event, it is crucial that you check assigned location and time of presentation. If you have a 9 AM presentation, you may begin arriving at 8 AM to allow for set-up time.

You can access current presenter information from the Event Day Information page.

Poster Guidelines

You should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Posters cannot be larger than 3 feet in height by 4 feet wide (36” x 48”)
  • Posters must be self-contained on a single sheet
  • You may print your poster on a single piece of paper or mount it on a single sheet of poster board
  • For presentations involving Human Subjects and/or Animal Research, include this statement on your poster: This project has been approved by Grand Valley State University’s {HRRC or IACUC}, {approval number}, {expiration date}
  • Easels, backboards, poster tacks, clips, and/or Velcro strips will be provided to affix your poster on the day of the event
  • Poster must be set up by 8:45 AM on the day of the event and must be taken down beginning at 5:00 PM
  • Any posters left up after we complete tear-down beginning at 5:00 PM will be taken to 230 LIB and held for one week before disposal

Poster Tips

There are several different ways to prepare a poster presentation. Each academic discipline will have its own set of standards that you should follow. Contact your faculty mentor to ensure that you are following the correct format.

  • Use white spaces to separate different poster sections and group related information by color or in the same box
  • A large font title should be placed at the very top of the poster
  • Use figures and pictures to tell your story
  • Minimize the amount of text and use a large enough font for viewers to read your poster from 6 feet away. Ideally you should use less than 800 words and avoid large blocks of text
  • Organize material in a logical progression
  • Clearly state your working hypothesis and include important data and conclusions
  • Start early and revise your poster often. Work with your faculty member through several rough drafts before finalizing your poster
  • Practice your presentation as you work through your revisions to ensure that you have included all of the necessary information
  • Look at other posters from your discipline
  • Practice with your faculty mentor a short (2-5 minute) summary of your poster that you can give to viewers
  • See Colin Purrington's website on poster design (including templates): http://colinpurrington.com/tips/academic/posterdesign
  • Further Resources on Creating a Poster

Printing Tips

These tips are for using the plotter. The plotter is located in the Mary Idema Pew Library. The cost to use the plotter is $25.00 which covers the cost of one print. This cost must be paid by each presenter or faculty mentor (or the department). If you are paying out of pocket you need to pay at the cashier in Student Services. The IT Helpdesk will no longer take IDCs for payment. Please notify your department to contact the IT Helpdesk if they are covering your cost. The plotter will be available any time the Help Desk is staffed (which should be all hours the Library is open). 

  • Stop at the IT Help Desk and they will assist you with printing your poster
  • You should print a test page using the “Scale to fit” option to make sure your poster prints without any issues. If you are satisfied with this printing then proceed with your print

You may also be interested in the Digital Print Shop at GVSU. 

Example Posters

Each academic discipline has its own standards and expectations for poster design. Be sure to contact your faculty mentor about the expected design and format for your particular discipline.

There are many places around campus where representative posters are displayed. Consult the following locations for examples:

  • Field House (Movement Science)
  • Padnos Hall, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors (Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Physics, Geology, and Chemistry)
  • AuSable Hall (1st floor – Geography, 2nd floor – Psychology)
  • Mackinac Hall (1st floor – Statistics, 2nd floor – Statistics and Computer Science)

The Day of the Event

On the day of the event you will need to arrive early and get your poster displayed. All posters must be in place by 8:45 AM. You will be provided with either easels, backboards, and clips, or tacks and/or Velcro strips to hang your poster (depending upon location). Several SSD Committee members and volunteers will be on hand if you need any assistance in locating your poster location or obtaining clips/tacks. You should also make arrangements to have your poster removed beginning at 5:00 PM. You will need to be available to discuss your poster during the one hour time block you were assigned when you registered. Be sure to double check this time prior to the day of the event. During this hour you will discuss your poster with participants and answer any questions that the viewers may have regarding your project. Consider the following tips for this presentation:

  • Dress professionally
  • Stand next to your poster so viewers can easily identify its author
  • Establish eye contact to let them know you are eager to answer their questions
  • Prepare a short statement to walk the viewers through your figures to discuss your project
  • Be prepared to briefly discuss your hypothesis, point out your work, address key pieces of data, and summarize your conclusions
  • Point to specific parts of your poster as you explain your project
  • Speak to the viewers, not your poster
  • Keep in mind that you likely know much more about your project than the viewers. Don’t assume knowledge on their part
  • Before or after your assigned time, check out as many poster as you can. It is often helpful to visit several posters before your presentation time to see how the other students are presenting their work
  • When setting up your poster at the start of the day, it may be helpful to attach a small card stating when you will be present to discuss your poster

Need more Help?

If you need additional assistance or tips in preparing your poster presentation beyond the scope of this document, the following faculty may be able to help you:

Much of this guide was created by Fred Stoss at University of Buffalo.  More information including poster instructions, layouts, and examples can be found at http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/asl/guides/bio/posters.html.