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Formatting Considerations

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How will you display your information? While constructing a research poster may seem fairly straightforward, there are actually several options when it comes to formatting. Titles and headings should be formatted in a large enough font that the text can be read from 8 to 10 feet away. If appropriate, utilize graphics and visuals that enhance your information. Check out the additional information below! 


Traditional research posters have the dimensions of 48” x 36”, and can be positioned either horizontally or vertically. Another poster format is the tri-fold poster, which are commonly 48” x 36” or 40” x 28”. The benefit of the tri-fold poster is that it creates three visual spaces where information can be organized, as opposed to the undivided format of the traditional poster.


Another main difference between these two poster styles is the physical layout; whereas the traditional poster must be hung or held up at all times, the tri-fold poster has the ability to stand on a surface. When selecting your poster display style, it is important to consider how you will be delivering information during your presentation. Depending on the nature of your presentation, your instructors or conference personnel may have specific formatting requirements you must follow. 


Another important design consideration is font choice. Font size, color, and style can be manipulated to create visual appeal and an informational hierarchy. To balance headers with body text, consider utilizing both sans serif and serif fonts. Sans serif fonts are commonly used to create titles, section headers, or labels while body text is traditionally formatted in serif fonts. Though using multiple fonts is more engaging than relying on a singular font, using more than 3 total fonts can become distracting. Likewise, utilizing multiple alignment styles can compromise the cohesiveness of the poster. Align all paragraphs and headers to the left in order to maintain balance on your poster.

In terms of font size, the best practice is to utilize a variety of sizes to both prioritize certain information and to create visual appeal. It is recommended that titles be displayed in 85 pt. font, authors’ names in 56 pt., sub-headings in 36 pt., body text in 24 pt., and captions in 18 pt. When in doubt — print your poster, hang it on the wall, walk to the center of the room and assess whether you can read the title, headers, and key information. 


In this section, we have example posters; the first two demonstrate the way writers can utilize the suggestions provided in this resource to compose good posters. The last poster is meant to serve as a "bad example." In other words, the last poster shows things writers may want to avoid when composing posters.