Steps for creating a poster presentation

Making a poster presentation (or a research poster) can be daunting without proper guidance. This guide will walk you through the steps to take to make a professional and effective poster presentation.

The poster will concisely sum up the author's original research and present findings in visually pleasing fashion with minimal text. Posters tend to include images like charts, graphs, photos or illustrations.


"Students around research poster" by Chiara Coetzee is CC by 2.0.




1. Find a Powerpoint template


To get started, find a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation template.

  • Search for an appropriate PowerPoint poster template. To find templates for other kinds of Microsoft documents, visit the Microsoft Office Store.
    • There are different types of templates depending on the subject. Be sure to choose one that best fits what you are trying to get across in the poster.
  • Consider using asking your professor for a suggested template or using a Villanova University branded PowerPoint slide. Make sure that you are using a template where any preexisting visuals will not get distorted when modifying the slide dimensions.​

Next, make sure to use an appropriate sized template.

  • The most common and standard size for a poster is 36"x 48". The Student Research Symposium lists 36"x 48" as the proper size.
  • Be sure to check any requirements announced by the conference at which the poster is being presented. Some conferences may accept larger or smaller sized posters.
  • To check the dimensions in PowerPoint go to Design --> Slide Size --> Custom Size

slide size.jpg




2. Organize content

Most posters will contain the type of information that you would find in a journal abstract. Sections on the poster will be organized into blocks that usually include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Methodology
  3. Section headings
  4. Charts or figures with data
  5. Results
  6. Conclusions
  7. References
  • Less text is more when it comes to posters. Aim for getting your word count under 800 words or less.
  • Avoid copying and pasting sections of your research into the poster. Be sure to make an attempt to cut down on the words and focus more on providing important findings from your research to visually convey your results.
  • It is a good rule of thumb to highlight the most important findings in your research and find ways to present the results in a visual or compelling fashion.
  • Consider using bullet points or lists over using a straight paragraph of text in the poster.


Most viewers will not read your entire poster in detail. So try to help viewers understand its basic message by looking at the title, abstract or introduction, section headings, figures, and conclusions.


3. Visual aspect

Because the visual aspect of a poster is critical, it is important to use appropriate fonts and sizes.

  • Use a font size that can be read from a distance.
  • Choose a font that is easy to read like Helvetica or Arial.
  • Use bold or underlined text for section headings.
  • Keep the font consistent throughout the poster, and use the same size for section headings.
  • The rule of thumb for font size is - Title as 72pt, Headings as 48 pt, Figures as 30 pt, and Body text as 28pt.


4. Using images

Use your own images

  • Make your life easier and decide to use your own images in the poster such as photographs, charts, infographics, tables and other graphics that you created on your own.
  • There are plenty of design tools available online to help you craft a graphic for your poster. Some popular websites include:

Find freely available images

Consider using freely available images, like those licensed as Creative Commons, or those in the public domain. You don't need to request permission for these images but you still need to give the creator credit.

5. Citing information

If referencing another person's work, you need to acknowledge citing it. Be sure to check whether your poster session expects formal citation and if there is a preferred style required. If there is no standard required, be consistent with formatting within the poster.

See the Falvey Library Frequently Used Style Guide for examples of APA, MLA and Chicago Styles.


By using photographs or images in your poster that you did not create, you should follow appropriate copyright requirements for use of the images.

Citing visuals in a poster means creating a label with the citation and permissions. 

For example, the basic format for images found on the web in APA style is as follows: Last Name, First Initial. (Year, Month Day of Publication). Title of image. Title of Website. URL

APA example for image from website


Figure 1. Stahl, K. (2022, August 25). Library essentials [digital image]. Falvey Library


6. Export PDF

Before exporting the file be sure to:

  • Check for spelling errors and other mistakes.
  • Check the dimensions and image used in the poster to make sure they do not become blurry or pixelated when viewed at 100%. Remember, when printed to scale, any blurriness will be apparent on the poster at full scale.

Make the PDF

In Windows, save the PowerPoint slide as a PDF and select standard size


On Macs, select Print --> Scale to fit paper --> Save as PDF.

Printing the poster

If presenting a poster at the Student Research Symposium, check their website for the most current guidance about printing on campus through iPRINT.

Otherwise, if presenting a poster at a conference outside of the University, check with your professor or look for a professional printing service like Poster Ninja, Staples or Kinkos.