Department of Biology


All of your work should directly relate to your topic thesis, hypothesis or question.
Organize Your Presentation


  • Choose a topic 
  • Know your audience (general or specialized) 
  • Research the topic 
  • Outline the information to be put into the poster (double check for accuracy and gaps) 
  • Write the presentation 
  • Edit -- Is the presentation clear and concise? 
  • Choose an easy to read and attractive format for the presentation 
Choose a Topic
  • All of your work should directly relate to your topic thesis, hypothesis, objective or question. 
  • If you are presenting a research poster then the topic is naturally your research. Your title should directly state the hypothesis you were testing or the key result of the research.  
  • If you are giving a poster in a course then you may be assigned a topic, or asked to pick a topic. It is important to choose a topic with enough available background material to make the poster factual and interesting, but not so broad that you cannot discuss the topic well in just a few minutes.  
Research Your Topic
  • If you are doing a research poster you should do a thorough survey of the current literature related to your research and integrate this into the background section of your talk. 
  • If you are doing a course poster, first collect the data relevant to your hypothesis or thesis and then sit down and analyze the data.  
  • Which studies support your hypothesis?  
  • Do other studies support alternative hypotheses?  
  • Is there controversy in the scientific community over this topic, or general agreement? 
  • Collect relevant graphs, figures or tables that can be used in your presentation. 
Outline Your Poster:   
Research Posters Research Posters typically include an Introduction, Objectives, Methods, Results, Summary, and Conclusions. Literature cited is optional.
Background material that provides justification for the study.
A bulleted list of the objectives of the study or the hypothesis being tested. 
A brief description of the techniques used in the research being presented. These can also be placed into the figure legend of appropriate figures. 
Graphical depiction of the experimental results. Graphs and diagrams provide a clearer statement of your research results than do tables.  If you cannot graph your data use bulleted lists.
A bulleted list of the key findings. Each bullet is limited to 1-2 sentences.
Draw legitimate conclusions instead of speculating.
May or may not be used. 
Classroom Posters Classroom Posters typically include an Introduction, the Body of the Poster, Summary, and Conclusions. Different courses may have specific items to include in your poster. The order of topics in these posters are not as clearly defined as in traditional research posters. 
    Body of the Poster
A summary of key points in current research and figures or images to support these points. It is important to always keep the topic thesis, hypothesis, or question in mind as a common theme during the body of the poster. If you wander from the main point, you may lose your audience.
Poster Preparation:  
    Key Points
  • Balance between figures, tables and text. Figures and tables should occupy approximately half of the viewing area. If you have only a few illustrations, make them large. Use text to state the problem, frame the problem in the appropriate context, summarize results, and state major conclusions. 
  • A poster is not ot a copy of your written paper glued onto a poster board. 
  • It should be quickly readable from a distance. Lower Case is easier to read (Readability vs. READABILITY)
  • Check ahead of time to see what size your poster can be. Large meetings often allow 4 by 8 feet for each poster. In classrooms you may only have 4 by 4 feet.  
  • Some posters are attached to easels or dividers by velcro or tacks. Others require free-standing 3-fold posters. All supplies necessary for poster construction are available at the Cartwright Center. 
  • The easiest way to prepare figures and text for posters is using Powerpoint, printing out individual 8x11 pages and either attaching them to a poster board, or tacking them individually to a poster stand. 
  • Each component piece can be mounted individually or several pieces can be grouped together on a single backing board. Using a different color for the backing board can effectively highlight selected elements. 
  • Use characters 1 inch high (Geneva or Arial 96 point bold works well). 
  • Use limited text to convey the essential information 
  • Use a serif typeface (Palatino, New York, Bookman) 
  • Point size should be between 24 and 36 
  • Use plain text 
  • Use a sans-serif typeface (Geneva, Helvetica, Arial) 
  • Point size of font should be larger than text 
  • Use Bold  
  • Design figures that can be understood without reading the entire poster 
  • Information in figures should not be duplicated in text or elsewhere. 
  • State the key results in a complete title for each table. 
  • Set up columns for ready comparison of data from left to right in a logical order. 
  • Each column should have a heading, include symbols of the unit of measurement. 
  • Reading order: down columns instead of across rows 
  • Line length: do not exceed 60 characters across 
Critique Poster Before Production
  • Is the poster appropriate for your audience? 
  • Does it fit on the poster board? 
  • Is it readable from five feet? 
  • Has it been carefully edited and proofread? 
  • Does the title accurately reflect the study? 
  • Does the background establish the need for the study? 
  • Does the objective adequately state the purpose of the study? 
  • Do the methods and results tie back to the objectives? 
Presentation Stand by your poster at all times during your session. Dress professionally and ask people if they would like you to "walk them through" your poster. Viewers appreciate having important information pointed out to them.
  • Do you display a professional appearance and demeanor? 
  • Are you responsive to questions about your research? 
  • Are you willing to approach people who appear interested in your poster? 
  • Are you able to talk about your study with different audiences? 
  • Are you enthusiastic about your work? Can you convey this to others? 
Grading Typically instructors grade based upon the quality of the poster and the author's presentation. Categories can include Organization, Appearance, Content, and Student's Understanding of the Topic (based upon ability to answer questions).


Copyright © 2001, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.