This is the "Overview" page of the "Poster Design" guide.
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A guide to support workshops and consultations related to Poster Design.
Last Updated: Apr 19, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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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

  • What the Font
    Identifies commons fonts by analyzing images.
  • Identifont
    Identifies common fonts, and helps you discover the right font for your purpose.
  • Font Squirrel
    Free fonts! All are available for personal and commercial use.
  • Dafont
    More free fonts! Most are available for personal use. Some are available for commercial use.
  • 1001 Free Fonts
    Even more free fonts (1001 to be exact)!
  • Google Web Fonts
    If you're designing for the web, you can use Google Web Fonts to make sure your fonts stay consistent across different browsers.
  • Kerntype: A Kerning Game
    Practice your kerning skills and score yourself against a professional designer. Surprisingly addictive.


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.

    Available for Penn users in the Vitale Digital Media Lab.
  • Openclipart
    Many unique line drawings and other clip art. Many are exportable as png or svg files for further editing.
  • ClipArt ETC
    For educational use only.
  • Creative Commons Media
    Search for media with CC licenses all over the web.

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

  • Color Theory Tutorial
    This interactive tutorial walks you through the basics of using color.
  • Kuler
    Explore existing palettes, or create your own. Export swatches to other Adobe products.
  • Color Hunter
    Create a custom palette from an image!
  • Design Seeds
    Palettes curated by a designer.
  • COLOURlovers
    Browse palettes based on color or popularity among a large community of users.

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


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