What Makes a Good Research Poster?
Alphabetical list of Handouts & Guides

Words of Wisdom

There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away.

— Marina Ivanova Tsvetaeva


One fine day Megatron and Mercy went looking for research posters to evaluate.
Introducing our beautiful host: Meghan a.k.a. Megatron.


Our next host is really excited to be here… (obviously): this is Mercy.

“Hi Guys

We all know that making an effective research poster requires a lot of hard work as well as a crap ton of time. As your hosts, Mercy & Megatron (MerMeg), we are going to explain what makes an effective poster, how to look cool like this girl in the picture, and provide examples of good & bad posters.

So don’t get all crazy like the cutie in the picture…

Just be cool and pay attention because research posters are s-u-u-u-per interesting and really colorful. 

This poster has a fantastic organization. Each of the boxes designates a new concept or step in the experiment. It has a very logical order and  the results (the most important part) is very large and in the middle. The poster starts with the abstract, introductions, and other really cool things. This is a great example of a well-organized poster. It is simple, easy to follow and does not distract from the main content.

This is an example of a poster that needs an organization make-over. This poster has so many graphics and details that the readers do not know where to start. The poster looks very crowded and super busy. There does not seem to be a logical order of the process.

This poster uses lots of bright colors to draw attention to each section. Unfortunately, the colors are more distracting than eye catching. There is not a uniform method to their highlighted features. It is unorganized and confusing. The text is also in several different colors and sizes. As a general note, you should use colors that relate to the poster’s purpose and you should only use bright colors when emphasizing a specific point.

The color of this poster is very settling and does not distract the reader.  The graphics are a nice size and easy to see from a far distance, however the white backgrounds jump out at you and don’t tie into the rest of the poster. As you can see, the organization is constructed well with conclusions on the right and the methods on the left. The problem is that it is too wordy. The large chunks of text look like they were directly taken from the research paper.

This poster is clear and easy to read because the sections are each divided in their own box. The images are appealing to the eye and easily readable from a distance. The poster could have looked more professional had the margins been aligned and the spaces between the boxes had been equal.

This poster looks very professional. They used a vertical column structure with information going top to bottom and left to right. The spacing between the boxes and the margins are equal and the headings are lined up on the same line making it easy to read and eye appealing. The title is prominent and easy to read from a distance. There is very minimal text and tables and images are used to explain methods and results. All of the graphics are well-labeled, which is important for maintaining clarity.

This poster has a good sense of balance and whitespace, however the background color is too bold and the text looks like it was pasted directly from the paper. The results are also not labeled which makes it harder to follow. Bulleted lists, images, or paraphrasing the abstract, introduction, and conclusion would have helped this poster look less wordy.

This poster uses color well. The color scheme is soothing and not distracting and the different colors work well together. The graphics and bulleted lists make the poster easy to read and appealing to the eye. The spacing between the boxes is not equal. This hinders the credibility, but overall the poster is very effective. This poster also includes an acknowledgment section and references at the end which is very important.

This was the most effective poster we found. This poster has a dynamic color scheme of red and black which relates to the heart theme. It also has a watermark background image of a heart that is eye catching and does not distract from the text. The poster follows the IMRAD format and each section is broken up into manageable points. There is several different graphics that are incorporated well into the poster. They are strategically placed to not draw too much attention and still provide the required information. The amount of white space is used effectively, especially with the white border. This poster also includes acknowledgments, references, and provides a way to contact the researcher for future information. This poster appeals to professional standards and is the best poster we found.

Well that was a look at how cool research posters can be!

Thanks and Gig’em Ags!
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