Please note that Internet Explorer version 8.x is not supported as of January 1, 2016. Please refer to this support page for more information.

  • Download full issue


Annals of Medicine and Surgery

How to make an academic poster.

Academic posters are an excellent way for trainees to showcase their work at conferences and meetings.

When done effectively they provide a succinct and attractive summary of your project.

This guide aims to provide trainees with a practical and concise method to prepare their academic poster.

Academic posters are an excellent way to showcase your work at conferences and meetings. They can be used in poster presentations and serve as a summary of your project. In this how to article, we demonstrate how trainees can make and deliver a successful academic poster.

Cited by (0)

How to Create a Research Poster

Poster Design Guides and Tips

Free PowerPoint Templates

NSE Communication Lab

Although your poster is static, you will need to modulate your oral presentation to match the level of interest and expertise of your audience , who will also be flowing in and out of the session. While you stand next to the poster, it will serve as a visual aid to help you communicate and spark fruitful conversation. While you are absent or talking to someone else, it should succinctly communicate your work through effective figures, titles and captions. A successful poster will serve these functions through the use of visual design to effectively highlight the single main message that you have chosen to communicate and to illustrate the logical flow of your pitch .

1. Before you start

Resist the urge to immediately browse through poster templates or choose your favorite figures to include. To create an effective poster, you must clarify for yourself what you want to say, to whom, and why—when the session is over, how will you know that you were successful?

1.1. What is your ONE main message?

Identify the one thing that everyone must remember after seeing your poster (which is different from your poster title). You have limited space on your poster so this exercise will help you decide which content to include or leave out. Avoid vague statements such as “on the future of nuclear energy” and aim instead for full sentences such as “nuclear energy is essential in fighting climate change.” Make sure that your message is appropriate for your target audience.

1.2. Who is your audience?

Will your poster be presented at the NSE Graduate Research Expo where you’ll have a mix of faculty, current NSE students, and incoming first-years, or is this poster for an APS-DDP (American Physical Society, Division of Plasma Physics) conference where everyone will have a solid grasp on plasma physics? Knowing this will help inform your objectives, your main message, and level of background versus technical detail. For instance, the posters below describe the same project, but one was targeting a broad, non-expert audience whereas the other was for a highly technical crowd.

create dissertation poster

1.3. What is your specific aim?

Decide what you want for/from your audience. This aim should be centered around your audience, specifically what you would like them to do or feel. Your poster (in content and design) should steer the conversation in your desired direction. For example, emphasize your methodology and critical concerns in order to hear critical feedback, or you may emphasize the importance of your work, its diverse applications, and future directions if you wish to attract collaborators.

Return to Contents

2. Building your poster

2.1. prioritize figures over text.

Your poster is first and foremost a visual aid to your narrative. The general structure of a poster can vary, but you should aim for the following composition: 80% figures, 10% title, and 10% text.

create dissertation poster

2.2. Make your title visible, brief, and broad

To come up with a strong title, brainstorm the key nouns and verbs relevant to your work (aiming to keep them general) and link them together with as few words as possible.

create dissertation poster

2.3. Organize your content in individual panels

Consider each panel in your poster to be like a slide in a presentation. Use a section title that tells the reader the main takeaway. Provide figures, text, and data that present evidence for the validity of the title. Emphasize the figures, providing just enough text required to explain the figure. The text should be bullets and white space rather than paragraphs.

2.4. Use visual design to support your narrative

A large central figure is an effective way to showcase your main message, be it a representation of your experimental technique or a key result. Posters are usually organized into panels. Consider the placement of these panels to simplify the navigation through your poster. Certain design decisions can help to simplify and facilitate navigation. For example, the below design principles can work in synergy to guide your audience through the logical flow of your poster:

create dissertation poster

3. Presenting your poster

Your poster is a visual aid to your narrative, which means you are still the main conduit of information. As such, be ready to engage your audience in a meaningful conversation, and adapt to your environment.

3.1. Prepare your pitch

“Tell me about your work” is a commonly asked question at poster sessions, and you must prepare to answer it effectively without losing your audience. Aim to convey what the problem is, what you’re doing to solve it, and why people should care… all within 20-30 seconds. For example:

“A large obstacle for nuclear materials researchers is the cost and time required for in-core reactor irradiations. I’ve developed a technique to use charged ions from small particle accelerators to simulate neutron damage in nuclear materials. The rapid turn-around time and low cost of this technique allow for many small scoping experiments to be performed before committing a large amount of resources to a dedicated, in-core experiment.”

Head over to the Elevator Pitch CommKit article for more tips and examples.

3.2. Plan to optimize your pitch in real time

It is important to customize your pitch based on your audience’s level of expertise. If they work in your research area, the background and motivation you discuss can be minimized and you can dig into the details. However, if you are presenting at a general conference, keep the content at a high level and emphasize the motivation and conclusions. If you’re unsure where to start, ask your audience what they already know about your topic of research, and lead them from there. Remember you can ask questions too!

4. Quick tips

Tools and basic templates to get started

Poster logistics

Editing tips

Presentation and networking

Additional resources

5. Examples

There are a lot of excellent posters out there, many of which can still be improved further. Here is an example with our annotations:

create dissertation poster

For inspiration, below are additional NSE posters that illustrate many of the practices that we recommend.

To get started or receive feedback on your poster, make an appointment with us. We’d love to help!


  1. Thesis Poster (1)

    create dissertation poster

  2. Dissertation Poster Writing Services with 100% Distinction

    create dissertation poster

  3. Masters Dissertation Posters 2017

    create dissertation poster

  4. Dissertation Poster

    create dissertation poster

  5. Masters Dissertation Posters 2017

    create dissertation poster

  6. Masters Dissertation Posters 2017

    create dissertation poster


  1. Making of Research poster

  2. How to Find a Thesis Topic

  3. Creating Research Posters (Part 1/3)

  4. Titanic Dissertation Final Submission

  5. How to make table of content

  6. How This Country Creates Rain #418


  1. Poster Basics - How to Create a Research Poster - Research ...

    Research posters summarize information or research concisely and attractively to help publicize it and generate discussion. The poster is usually a mixture of a brief text mixed with tables, graphs, pictures, and other presentation formats. At a conference, the researcher stands by the poster display while other participants can come and view the presentation and interact with the author.

  2. Free printable, customizable research poster templates | Canva

    Once you've picked a research poster layout to personalize, utilize our intuitive design dashboard and easy-to-use editing tools to make it your own. Drag and drop graphic elements from our extensive library into your creative research poster template. Feel free to include the ones you need according to your purpose.

  3. Research Poster Overview - Purdue OWL® - Purdue University

    Typically, research posters accompany an oral presentation of the project conducted, but should also be able to independently represent the research. The elements of a research poster include the abstract, the research questions, methodologies, results, and the conclusions. An effective research poster should provide a clean and consistent layout, emphasize research questions and results, utilize purposeful graphics and visuals, have readily accessible text, and include citations as well as ...

  4. Free Online Poster Maker: Design Custom Posters With Canva

    How to make a poster Get started on Canva Open up Canva and search for "Poster" to start designing. Choose a template Find a poster for an open house, a business launch party, fundraiser, upcoming event, workshop or conference, art auction, grand opening, program announcement and more. Click on the template to start customizing.

  5. How to make an academic poster - ScienceDirect

    A poster presentation allows you to summarise your project into a concise and aesthetically pleasing format. It is one of the main ways you will present your work when at conferences [1], [2]. For this reason, you need to make sure your poster is of good quality. This guide will serve to help you with this. 2. How to prepare a poster 2.1. Tools

  6. 40 Eye-Catching Research Poster Templates (+Scientific Posters)

    If you want to create an effective research poster, make sure that it should: Be completely readable from up to 10 feet away. It has a short title which catches the interest of the audience. It has a word count of 300-800. The text is both concise and clear. Make it easier to read by using headlines, numbering, and bullets.

  7. Design Tips - How to Create a Research Poster - Research ...

    Creating an Effective Scientific Poster (PDF) University of Guelph, Integrative Biology Undergraduate Curriculum Committee 2011/2012. Covers preparation, design principles, software guide, and a checklist for assessing your poster. Poster Presentations: Designing Effective Posters.

  8. Poster : NSE Communication Lab - Massachusetts Institute of ...

    To create an effective poster, you must clarify for yourself what you want to say, to whom, and why—when the session is over, how will you know that you were successful? 1.1. What is your ONE main message? Identify the one thing that everyone must remember after seeing your poster (which is different from your poster title).