Research Posters and Poster Sessions: Graphic Design Tips and Tricks

This guide has been developed to assist you with creating a research poster using MS Powerpoint.


This template is for a standard, 4' by 3', research poster designed for minimal text use.

This template is for a standard, 4' by 3', research poster presenting a layout designed around a focal image.

This template uses a dramatic center column to highlight key concepts. It is standard size, 4' long by 3' high.

This template is for a standard, 4' by 3', research poster which follows the design principle of "rule of thirds."

This template is for a standard research poster, 4' long by 3' high.

This template is for a square poster, 3' by 3'.

Office of Undergraduate Research Poster Template

Graphic Design Tips and Tricks

Rule of thumb(s)

·         For content of a poster: 20% text, 40% graphics and 40% white space

·         Dark print on light background.  (Highlighting section headings with a solid box and white text can be cool.)

·         Picture backgrounds make it difficult to read the text.


You want people to be able to read your poster without difficulty. So a few rules apply:

·         The “story” should flow from top to bottom and left to right. Think of the people walking by reading the posters. You do not want people to have to back up and cause a traffic jam.

·         The poster should be readable from a distance. Font sizes should be:

o   Title font ≥ 72 pts

o   Headings ≥ 48 pts

o   Body text ≥ 18 pts

·         Avoid all CAPS and excessive use of different font styles. Powerpoint’s WordArt can be problematic.


While creating your poster keep in mind that the colors you see on the screen may not be exactly what you see when the poster is printed. Calibrating printers can correct for most deviations.  To save time (and frustration), be flexible about the colors and remember your audience did not see the electronic version of your poster.

The charts, graphs and images will all have some color. So will the logos. Take these colors into consideration when choosing the colors for your poster design. HINT: use a color that is repeated in your graphics. It can be a shade darker or lighter, if needed.  Tools for selecting colors include:

·         Color Scheme Designer at

·         Kuler at

University of Utah Colors







PMS 187





Process Black









Powerpoint uses RGB. Printing involves CYMK and Pantone. HEX numbers are used to define colors on Web pages. You can use Adobe Photoshop to compare codes among the different systems.


It’s easy to just cut and paste an image from somewhere into your Powerpoint poster, but this does cause problems down the line. Instead of cutting and pasting, save the image to your hard drive (or where ever you are saving images) and then insert the image into your poster. You are creating your poster in a web format, but the final product will be printed on paper by a printer.  Printers require higher resolution – or DPI.  300 dpi is the usual figure recommended.

NOTE: A quick and dirty technique to determine if images are ok for printing. Zoom into the image until it is 200%. If the picture still looks great with no blurriness or pixilation then it is ok to print.

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