Do you want to know how to make your academic poster stand out? Whether for an in-person or virtual conference, we’re here to help with our top poster design tips.
Before we dive in, let’s define exactly what an academic poster is. The way we think of a poster is as a visual abstract, which means that information should be limited, concise and act as an overview to your main body of work.
Now we can get going with how to create your best academic poster yet.
Poster purpose check-in
Before you do anything, make sure you can answer the following questions. This will help you set the context for your poster and highlight what needs to be included:
Now you have the context, what’s the best way to create an academic poster design?
With all design work, it’s better to start with a pen and paper before moving onto your design tool of choice. This way you can play around with positioning without wasting time moving around lots of text and images.
Some things to think about at this stage:
Think about the content that should be grouped together.
Humans will automatically group things together if they are visually near one another, so be sure to create distinct groupings for distinct topics. You can do this by giving related elements a frame to show that they belong together. If you define a clear border, you will be telling your readers that information is together as a group.
At this stage you can just jot down roughly what you want and where you want it, in your sketches.
Is there a logical flow you can create with the content you want to include?
Think about how the user will scan through each of the sections and visually bring the connected content closer together. Be careful when putting elements close to each other when they don’t actually belong together, because, as we said earlier, your readers will automatically group them together!
Again, just make a note on your sketches of what you think will work.
Don’t overwork it! Simplicity always wins in design.
Now you have some ideas on layout, content and structure, you can move over to your design tool and start putting your academic poster together.
Some important things to consider at this stage are:
Choosing colours is an important part of the design process. You can use colour to draw attention to important information and bring your academic poster to life.
It’s easy to call it a day once you’re happy with the design, but don’t skip this final step as it’s the most important of all!
It’s tough love time. You have to be honest with yourself and decide if there is anything else you can remove from your poster.
The top tip here is be ruthless.
French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said:
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
There’s not much worse than standing in front of your academic poster on the day of the conference and realising you’ve misspelled your title. Read, re-read and read again. And make sure you have at least one person other than yourself reviewing your poster for grammar errors. If you are writing in your non-native language, we recommend getting a native speaker to do this review. You can get a freelance proofreader on platforms like fiverr or upwork, should you need to.