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Digital Scholarship Lab: Academic Posters

Learn about the Digital Scholarship Lab.

In this guide you can learn everything you need to know to get started on your academic poster. 

Begin by follow the 3 Steps to creating an eye-catching poster. Find inspiration and resources to help you find images and icons, create graphics, print your poster, and have a confident presentation day.

Still have questions? Ask the library!

Keys for Success

  Keys for Success:

  • Start with a blank PowerPoint slide and resize the slide before you add content

  • Keep your information concise. It is hard to read a crowded poster! 

  • Use high contrast colours and non-serif fonts like Arial for readability

  • Plan ahead if you need to print your poster 

Presenting your Poster

Be prepared for presentation day with these resources. 


  • Prepare and rehearse ahead of time
  • Write down brief notes and talking points
  • Engage your audience as they walk by
  • Drink water to save your voice!

Get Inspired!

What is an academic poster?

An academic poster, also referred to as a research poster, is a way to convey a message to your audience either in class or at a conference. A poster can be presented digitally, or printed out on large poster paper at your local print shop.

The poster is a conversation starter. Draw your

audience in with a catchy title and easy-to-read

main points and visual charts.

A good poster will give your audience an idea of

what you studied, and a craving to learn more. Provide

a link, QR code, or a paper handout to your audience

members to allow them to follow up on your work!

For more information visit

the Learning Portal's guide to Academic Posters!

3 Steps to Creating an Eye-Catching Poster

Plan ahead for poster success!

  • What are you trying to convey?
    • Remember: it is important to keep your text concise!
    • Who is your audience? What is there level of knowledge on your topic?
  • Is there a colour or theme that will help illustrate your point? 
    • For example, if your poster is about forestry, you might choose green and brown, using tree or nature icons in a bar graph.
  • How far ahead do you need to print the poster?
    • If you are printing a paper copy of your poster, find out how much time is needed at the print shop and how much it will cost. You don't want to be surprised or run out of time!


  • Brainstorm ideas using online brainstorming tools, or on paper
  • Draw your poster on paper to spark your imagination.
  • Create an outline to keep you on track during the design process

Poster presentations are meant to spark conversation. Your audience will not spend time reading a wordy poster.

Keep your poster balanced with bullet points and informative graphics.

Use headings and short sentences to convey meaning to your audience as they approach your poster.


  • A concise and interesting title
  • Succinct language to get your main arguments across
  • Bullet points instead of full paragraphs. Don't copy/paste your essay onto the poster!
  • Talking points to spark questions and conversation from your audience
  • Provide references (small on the poster, or on a separate print out)


  • Ideal Dimensions:
    • 24″ x 36″ (60.96cm x 91.44cm)
    • 36″ x 48″ (91.44cm x 121.92cm)
  • When using a PowerPoint slide, be sure to change the size of the slide before you begin designing.
  • Zoom in to work on your poster in detail. 
  • Check out this video to find out effective ways to make a great poster:

Dos and Dont's of Designing an Academic Poster by U of G Library is licensed with  



  Key Design Concepts:

  • Font Type and Size
    • Use only 2-3 fonts on your poster
    • Use sans-serif fonts like Arial, Verdana or Calibri
    • Avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman, they are harder to read
    • Use large fonts size 40+ for titles, size 24 for subtitles, size 20 for body text and size 14 for captions
  • Contrast
  • Colour
    • Use colour to highlight your point or guide the reader's eye
    • Do not over use colours (no more than 4)
    • Leave white space, or blank space
  • Alignment
    • Pay attention to the "Rule of Thirds" to make your poster appealing
    • Align your headings and images



The most straight forward way to create a large poster is on a single slide on one of these programs:

  • Microsoft Powerpoint
  • Apple KeyNote



For charts and graphics to include in your poster try these web-based design programs:

Find Images and Icons


These websites can help you find free-to-use and public domain images and icons. Please be aware of crediting sources and reading licensing terms.

Creative Commons

  • Search photos licensed for re-use


  • Tip! Filter your search to Creative Commons licenses and credit the source.

Getty Open Content Images

  • Images available for download, without charge, under Getty's Open Content Program

Noun Project

  • "Free Icons for Everything"

Google Advanced Image Search

  • Tip! Filter your search to images by Usage Rights to images that are free to use.



There are several places you can get your poster printed:


Cite your Sources

Use our citation guides to help you cite your sources.

Remember to credit the images you use!

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