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Poster Design: Design

Use to guide to create an effective research, project, or other type of poster.

Best Practices

  • Choose a large font size that can be read from 4-6 feet away. This means minimum of 70 pt font for your header and 24 pt font for the rest of the text.
  • Make sure text and objects are well spaced and leave white space to give eyes a rest between content. 
  • Create a logical flow for the information - people should be easily able to read your poster like a map.
  • Be intentional about your use of color.
  • Avoid printing on glossy paper as it can reflect light and make it difficult to read. 


  • Use poster templates!
  • Let your sections and data dictate your layout. 
  • “Direct” readers through your content.
    • Left to right, up, down
    • Use numbers, letters, or arrows\
    • Readers should be able to read your poster like a map


​Choose a color scheme that is appealing but does not distract from the content of the poster.

Colors should be:

  • Accessible: be aware of common color blindness combos.
  • Subtle: the attention should stay on your content. 
  • Meaningful: should highlight, separate, or define information. All headings should be the same color, and potentially different than the color of the body text. 
  • Distinguishable: There should be a contrast between the colors and the text. For example, one light and one dark color provide greater contrast than two light colors. 

Images & Other Graphics

  • Have a purpose!
  • Digital images should have 300 dpi (dots per inch).
    • At a minimum, you can print at 150 dpi, but the lower you go, the more pixelated it will look on your printed poster. 
  • Align images and text boxes.
  • Show selective data in tables and graphs.


  • Font size:
    • The font size should be large enough to see from 4-6 feet away. 
    • The title of the poster should be approximately 70 to 120 point font
    • Main text should be between 28 to 36 point font.
    • Subtitles, headings, and author names' font sizes should be between the font size of the title and main text.
  • Font types:
    • Serif fonts have small strokes on the letters, and improve readability for large amounts of text.
    • Sans-serif fonts do not have strokes on the letters. They provide a clean and contemporary look, but may be difficult to read for large amounts of text. 
    • You can use one serif and one sans-serif font to add contrast. 


  • Minimal text
  • Short phrases
  • Bullet points when possible
  • Edit, edit, edit!

Paragraph alignment:

  • Left-aligned text is the easiest to read. 
  • Justified text (newspaper-style) has a clean look, but it makes text harder to read. 


Whitespace refers to the space in between sections and graphics. 

  • May not literally be white - it will be whatever your background color is. 
  • Increases the readability of your content.
  • Lets each section "breathe."
  • Without it, the poster can be overwhelming.