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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Research Poster Presentation Workshop

Best Practices


Sample research poster



The layout of your research poster should be easy for visitors to follow, especially if it will remain up while you're not there to present. A common layout is columns that can be read from the top of the poster to the bottom and from left to right. For optimum readability, include plenty of negative or empty space between elements.

If your poster has to be a specific size, it is simple to resize slides in PowerPoint and Google Slides to a custom dimension. In PowerPoint, select Custom Slide Size from the Slide Size dropdown menu in the Design tab.


PowerPoint slide resize menu


To resize your slide in Google Slides, select Page setup from the File menu and then select Custom in the Page setup dropdown menu.

Google Slides resize menu



Don't be afraid of a simple background. It is tempting to use a graphic for the background of your poster, but it can very difficult to read text over an image. Be aware of the contrast between your background and your text. If you have a light background, use dark text, and if you have a dark background, use light text.


For maximum impact, choose different fonts for the header and body of your poster. Select a serif font for your header and a sans serif font for the body. Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman and Bodoni, have short lines at the ends of the strokes in a letter; sans serif fonts, such as Helvetica and Arial, do not. Additionally, the different elements of your poster should have different sized font to create definition. Some common font pairings and recommended font sizes can be found below.

list of font pairs 
recommended font sizes for research poster



Adding color to your poster is a great way to draw visitors. PowerPoint has a number of color themes to choose from, or if you want to experiment, resources like Colour Lovers have user-created color palettes that you can use to customize your poster.