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Presentations in Medicine & Science

Resources to help assist you make good presentations in different formats. Posters and oral presentations


Poster Presentations

Posters are a legitimate and popular presentation format for research and clinical vignettes. They efficiently communicate concepts and data to an audience using a combination of visuals and text. Most scientific meeting planners take advantage of the popularity and communication efficiency of poster presentations by scheduling more posters than oral presentations. Poster presentations allow the author to meet and speak informally with interested viewers, facilitating a greater exchange of ideas and networking opportunities than with oral presentations. Poster presentations often are the first opportunities for young investigators to present their work at important scientific meetings and preparatory for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

In order to be successful, certain prerequisites must be met:

  • You must have a desire to be scholastically effective and be willing to put the time into the design and production of the poster.
  • You need organizational skills. Like any other endeavor associated with deadlines, you must be able to deliver the product on time. Posters are associated with more deadlines than oral presentations, due to the necessary interaction with graphic artists, graphic production, and the needs of the meeting itself. Organizational skills are also needed to create a concise and logically structured graphic and text presentation of the research or vignette. In order to help you achieve these goals, this article addresses poster planning, production, and presentation.

Effective poster presentations:

  • are organized
  • are visually appealing
  • are succinct
  • presented clearly and with enthusiasm
  • tell a story

The most important rules:

  • Have your poster fit in the space provided
  • Make your poster readable from 4 ft away
  • Don’t try to put everything about your project on your poster. It will be less cluttered and will encourage viewers to ask questions
  • Limit the text

Poster Design Tips


Your layout will help guide users through the poster. Your poster should be a good balance of text, images, and white space. Poster layouts work better when there is symmetry.

  • Use visual hierarchy to guide readers to the important parts of your poster.
  • Use a column format to make your poster easier to read in a crowd.
  • Use organization cues (arrows etc). to guide readers through your poster.
  • Use "reader gravity" which pulls the eye from top to bottom and left to right.
  • Use headings intelligently to help readers find your main points and key information.
  • Balance the placement of text and graphics to create visual appeal.
  • Use white space creatively to help define the flow of information.


Tips for Readable Posters:

  • Use dark text on a light background
  • Avoid garish colors and complicated backgrounds
  • Use one font and style for the whole poster
  • Leave space between columns
  • Try to use bullet points and pictures instead of text
  • Label figures clearly


  • Keep the lettering simple.

Font Size:

A good rule to follow on font size:

  • Title-72 pt
  • Section heading - 48 pt
  • Figure heading -30 pt
  • General text -28 pt
  • Text for labels- 20 pt

Useful Rules:  

  • Present data from top to bottom, left to right
  • Maintain empty space between rows
  • Poster should be ~40% graphics, 20% text, and 40% empty space
  • It may take 1-2 weeks to put  together an outstanding poster

Typical Parts of a Poster


  • Your entire project boiled down to a few words
  • Used by many to decide whether to visit your poster
  • Should not be too long or contain jargon and abbreviations
  • Should state the main focus of your study
  • Must be visible from six feet away

Author and Affiliations

  • Include first and last name
  • Spell out affiliations that may not be universally recognized
  • Street addresses are not necessary
  • Smaller than the title but still big font
  • Logos and pictures can be nice but not if they clutter up the poster


  • Gets the viewer interested and brings them up to speed in the field
  • Puts your work into the context of what is known
  • Justifies your model system and approach
  • Often ends with a clear statement of your specific goals or hypothesis
  • Keep it brief, use figures and diagrams, use bullets points if possible

Goal (optional)  


  • As brief as possible
  • Use graphics and flow charts, rather than text if possible
  • No need to describe basic methods
  • Most viewers don’t want to read details; they will ask for them. Can supply more information via handout


  • Include only a few key figures or tables
  • Each figure should have a title that summarizes the results
  • Figures should be large, labeled clearly, and be easy to understand with a long legend
  • All text should be visible from several feet away ( 48-30 pt font)


  • Use bullet points to highlight a major finding
  • Consider displaying a model
  • Possible to use a summary paragraph or summary bullet points instead
  • Remember...less is more!

Future direction (optional)

  • Use bullet points
  • Be brief

References (optional)


Poster Formats

It is important to talk in advance with your mentor about options for poster design and printing.

Examples of format options:

  • One large page printed on a poster printer
  • Individual panels printed on a 81/2 x 11 paper and mounted on a colorful poster board

Before you print:

  • Discuss options with your mentor ahead of time
  • Print out a draft in 8 ½ x 11 format to proofread and edit
  • Make sure you are using standard fonts and high quality images
  • Think about saving a pdf version if you may be switching from a Mac to a PC

If you are using a printing service:

  • Inform the service what program and platform you used to prepare your poster
  • Make sure the service offers electronic approvals/ that you can view a draft before the final product is printed
  • When checking your proof, make certain to read text carefully
  • Make sure you understand screen vs printing color differences

Common mistakes:

  • Too much material
  • Too much text
  • Poor layout
  • Block of text longer than 10 sentences
  • Waiting until the last minute to print
  • Neglecting to prepare your presentation

Poster Printing @ RBHS

At RBHS see any IST /ACT staff member for information and assistance in printing poster presentations. Posters must be paid for and in the queue during the posted hours of operations. Posters paid for and/ or submitted to the queue after the posted times will be processed on the following business day.

Campus Hours of Operation Phone Number
Newark (MSB C-632)          Monday-Friday,  9:00am – 4:30pm 973-972-6789

Printing prices are based on the rate of $1.00 per inch. Fixed width is 36” long; prices will be calculated based on the opposing dimension ( i.e. 36x12” poster is $12.00, etc). There will be no additional charge based on a color vs white background.


Travelling and Presenting Your Poster

As you prepare to travel to the meeting, consider the following tips:

  • Arrange for a proper carrying case for your poster.
    A worthy investment can prevent damage to your poster and your reputation.
  • Don't check your poster as luggage.
    Carry the poster with you at all times. Better your clothes get lost than your poster.
  • Come with some basic equipment.
    Although these items are typically provided at scientific meetings, you may not have quick access to them. Bring with you:
    • Tape
    • Scissors
    • Push pins, tacks, or stapler
  • Know where and when to set up your poster.
    The room or area reserved for posters is usually noted in the meeting program. Arrive early to set up your poster. This will allow you to adapt to any surprises in the physical layout or unannounced changes in the method of displaying the poster. Additionally, it's easier to put up your poster when there are fewer people competing for space and equipment. Most scientific programs assign a unique identifying number to your poster that corresponds to location of the poster in the display area. Find out what your number is and place your poster in the corresponding spot.
  • Know when to "stand by" your poster.
    Wear a name tag and introduce yourself. The time will be listed in the meeting program. Arrive on time and stay until the end of scheduled time. Don't wander off; you may miss the judges, your next fellowship director, or your next partner or employer.
  • Listen carefully to questions.
    Be prepared to provide details for experts and an overview for interested passer bys. It is often helps to restate the questions, in order to insure clarity.
  • Know when to take your poster down.
    Meeting rooms turn over fast. Have a clear understanding when the poster session is over and when the poster must come down. Failure to take the poster down at the appointed time can result in the hotel or convention staff (not so gently) removing it.
  • Be prepared to promote yourself.
    Consider bringing handouts and business cards for those who visit your poster. Use this opportunity to "network" with other professionals who share similar academic interests.

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