Posters Guide

  1. General points to keep in mind when designing your poster
  2. Organisation
  3. Getting your poster printed
  4. FAQ


A scientific poster is a communication tool which combines a fixed visual display with a verbal discussion of scientific information. Most scientific meetings include poster sessions in their program; during these sessions each presenter stands next to their poster, to discuss the presented work on a one to-one basis and to answer any questions. Posters enable a group of scientists to present their findings concurrently, while allowing the audience to view many presentations and to quickly obtain essential information on topics of interest to them.

Posters are very different from orally presented papers or from written reports. They are not just reports laid out on a large sheet of cardboard – you need to use your imagination to exploit the full 2D presentation capabilities of the medium. A poster will contain very little textual detail, the text mainly serving to support the graphic material. It should capture your viewer’s attention, then logically and concisely convey to the viewer the essence of your work so that the viewer can further discuss the work with you – if they are interested. Your also need to think about the audience your poster is aimed at, and design it appropriately.

You should be as concise as possible. Do not give unnecessary details or long winded descriptions. Concentrate on essentials, show that you understand what you did and can pick out the significant features. Spend your time on thinking and planning, rather than on fancy features and artistry. A beautiful presentation will not make up for obvious lack of content or weaknesses in understanding.

Some further advice on poster presentations can be found at:

and a full on-line tutorial on designing posters can be found at:


Your poster should generally be A1 size (594mm wide x 841mm high), i.e. equivalent to two columns, each of four A4 (landscape) sheets. It should consist of approx 20% text, 40% graphics and 40% empty space (do not cram the poster full with information). The poster can be printed on one sheet (if you have access to a large format printer) or be made from separate smaller sheets pasted onto a (coloured?) backing board. Posters should be laminated.

The poster material should be organised into sections (see below) presented in a logical sequence which is easy for the viewer to follow (usually top-bottom, left-right, with the introduction at top left and conclusions at bottom right).

Try to keep text to a minimum; use short sentences (or sentence fragments) and paragraphs to convey your message. The text font size should be legible from at least 1.5m (18 pt), with larger (at least 32pt) section headings; bold text is easier to read from a distance. Don’t use too many different fonts as this can distract the viewer’s attention, as can too many bright clashing colours.

Graphics (and photos), large enough to be clearly discernible from 1.5m, should be used wherever possible. Label graphs directly (no legends, keys) and use colour, rather than patterns, to distinguish different data sets and areas of interest. Avoid combining red and green for those viewers who may be red/green colour blind. Make sure you use an adequate font size for graphics labels to be legible from 1.5m.

The poster material should be arranged in sections such as the following (though not all posters will want to follow this precise prescription):

  • Title
    State the topic of your work, in less than 12 words, in an interesting (preferably catchy) manner. Avoid abbreviations and jargon. The title should be positioned across the top of the poster and be easily readable from at least 3m (use e.g. 72 pt lettering).
  • Name(s) of author(s)
    Will appear directly below the title and should be in a somewhat smaller font. You might even want to include a small picture of yourself.
  • Introduction (description of problem) 1-2 paragraphs
    This section should give a very selective overview of the topic and relate the topic to the wider context of other work. Develop the problem you worked on, define any special terms and jargon and describe your strategy and hypothesis.
  • Method of Attack (method/apparatus) 1-2 paragraphs
    Very briefly describe the equipment and the experimental procedures you used. Where possible, make use of block diagrams and neat line drawings to illustrate experimental design, with various components clearly identified.
  • Results / Analysis - largest section
    A brief qualitative description of the results is helpful at the beginning. Include the theoretical relationships necessary to understand and analyse the results. Your experimental data and theoretical predictions should, wherever possible, be presented in graphical form. The graphics should be independent of the text to the extent that just a brief glance at them alone, without reading the supporting text, is sufficient to convey to the viewer the essence of what you’ve achieved. To this end, graphs should always have their axes clearly labelled with units and dimensions correctly shown and with errors represented by error bars (or rectangles). If a comparison of non-graphical results proves necessary, the results should be presented in tabular form.
  • Discussion / Conclusion 1-2 paragraphs
    Compare your results with the predictions of the relevant theoretical models or other accepted measurements. Try to explain any discrepancies between your results and what is expected. Discuss the sources of error in your experiment and any other shortcomings in the apparatus or techniques. Try to propose possible future experimental improvements and suggest ways to minimise the dominant errors, upgrade the apparatus, methods etc. Summarise the physical insights gained from the experiment. State clearly your findings, their reliability and any scientific implications you can draw from the results.


Posters may be printed at either COFA or SCI-IMAGE. We prefer for you to get posters printed at COFA as it is more economical, they offer more printing options (ie poly fabric) and they tend to ensure the quality of the resulting poster is always good.

COFA - Digital Print and Copy Services

Location: Room F108, F Block College of Fine Arts (COFA), University of New South Wales, Paddington. A map is provided here.
Phone:   02 9385 0662
People:  Richard Crampton (Manager), Dr Peter Burgess (Technical assistant), Ms Deborah Clare West (Technical Officer)

Paper options: You may either get your poster printed on standard 90gsm paper however if you think you will be using your poster more than once it may be best to print on something more durable and flexible such as Poly fabric .

Submission details: When your poster is ready to be printed you may email the file to Richard Crampton if it is relatively small or put it on the web for him to download if it is large. The file you submit must be a PDF. He will email you when the job is ready to be picked up. Please make sure you include:

  • your name
  • contact details
  • poster size
  • paper type

NOTE: Richard will be on leave for the week beginning the 20th June. Please contact another staff member during this period to get your poster printed.

When your poster is ready to be picked up you need to fill out an internal debit form with your name and phone number. The Internal debit form can be downloaded from here with the relevant account details. There are 3 things that need to be done with this form:

  1. Get Richard to fill out the amount that is to debited
  2. Stephen Lo must sign it
  3. Make a photocopy of the signed form for Melinda and return the form to Stephen


Location: Room 507, Heffron Building (UNSW map reference E12 or the Chemistry building). Located at the western end of the 5th floor, turn right out of the lifts, then right again (follow the signs), 507 is a short way along the corridor on the right.
Phone:   02 9385 4346 / 5711
Fax:       02 9385 4677
People:  Stephen Preece - Manager (04140 470 596)
             Janice Latham

Submission details: When your poster is ready to be printed you need to fill out one of these forms:

and either email or drop off the file. More info can be found on their website.

Paper options:
Sci-image only print on paper.

4. FAQ

  • What program can I use to layout my poster?
    It is best to use some sort of design package such as Adobe Illustrator or Pagemaker. Illustrator is easy to use if you have ever used photoshop, it is not that different and the dept now has a licensed copy installed on the general purpose PC. When you complete your poster, create a pdf file using file -> save as and choose the 'pdf' option. In the past most people have used Powerpoint but this can cause alot of problems with the resulting printout including overlapping text, missing backgrounds, poor resolution.
  • But I want to use powerpoint
    • One thing to remember if you are using powerpoint is to make your background an actual image don't set it as the 'background' in powerpoint as it won't print out. You need to import it as an image and send it to the back.
    • You must create a pdf file to present to the printers. If they find errors in your poster, they will charge us by the hour to fix it and for any copies they print that are incorrect due to formatting errors. There is a copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional installed on the general purpose PC. You can copy over your powerpoint file and convert it to pdf there.
  • Can't I just give them my powerpoint file to print directly from?
    You can but it is likely that there may be missing fonts, the text may get misaligned and/or images may be missing if you didn't embed them. To fix this both COFA and SCI-Image will charge by the hour. This is not an expense the dept will cover.
  • What resolution do my pictures need to be to look good?
    Images need to be at least 150dpi
  • Where can I download a UNSW logo?
  • How long does it take for my poster to be printed?
    It depends on how many jobs are ahead of you. In general, it would take 24 hours but if they are busy it can be longer so don't leave it till the last minute.