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Poster Design: Overview

A guide to support workshops and consultations related to Poster Design.

Links and Examples

Typography and Fonts

A good typeface can help make your message more effective. These free resources help you identify fonts that you like, and download free usable fonts.

A few guiding principles to keep in mind:

  • Mixing fonts can add visual interest, but don't go overboard. Contrast is key: try using a different typeface for headers and body text to make important words stand out. Start with just two, and try not to use more than three.
  • Fun fonts can be tempting but remember: the most important quality of your typeface is that it must be readable.
  • Don't take spacing for granted; experiment with different distances between letters to change the effect of your text.

Type Resources


Designing effective posters takes patience and attention to detail, but can really pay off. A well-designed poster helps others understand the significance of your research, care about a cause you are promoting, and generally helps you change hearts and minds. We recommend starting with PowerPoint and then proceeding to PhotoShop or InDesign to gain greater control over your creation. You can print posters at the Vitale Digital Media Lab in the Weigle Information Commons, at the Biomedical Library, or at several private establishments in Philadelphia. You can also post a PDF of your poster on your website  as a permanent record of your creation.

Clip Art and Graphics

These free (or free-to-you-at-Penn) resources offer icons, images and symbols to help enhance your design. While clip art can be cheesy, these resources also offer professional graphics that won't make your design look like a terrible MS Office document.

Video of PhotoShop Posters Workshop (2011)

Color Theory and Palettes

Color has a huge impact on design. If something is well designed but has poor color choices, it will not be successful. Don't take it personally - it's just how our brains work!

Color theory is the field of study that examines how colors effect sensory experience. Even if you don't know much about color theory, you can take advantage of these free resources to pick colors that work well together.

Color Resources

Contact WIC & Biomed

For general assistance, please contact
Weigle Information Commons

For project help, consultations or group instruction for patrons in the Health Sciences, please contact
Barbara Kountouzi
Biomedical Library

Scientific Posters