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Poster Design Help : Home

Getting Started

Making a poster can be daunting, especially when you have so much information to communicate. Remember: you are not explaining every little detail, you are just trying to summarize your work. Making an outline is the best way to clear your mind and organize your work. 

  • Unless your requirements say otherwise, the most common sections of a poster ( generally in order ) are: 
    • Introduction 
    • Materials and Methods
    • Results
    • Summary / Conclusions 
    • References
    • Acknowledgements

Focus on the overall goal, message & organization of your poster. Viewers should be able to figure out what you did, what you found and why it's important by glancing at the title, results and graphics of your poster. Sadly, most people will not read your entire poster so it is important to only include necessary information. When in doubt, do not put it on your poster. 

Click here for a worksheet to organize your thoughts. 

What is the Main Goal of your Poster?

  • To communicate your work in an engaging yet concise way. 
  • Unlike a formal presentation, your poster audience is not captive. You want someone passing by to: 
    • stop and read more
    • be engaged with your work
    • REMEMBER your research

How do I Communicate my Work?

  • By showing the results, summary and conclusion of your findings
  • You want the poster to communicate the purpose of your research, by showing just a snapshot of your work
  • QR CODES!!!! A great way to reduce text heavy sections on your poster and allow your audience to have access to your full research. Click here to create one. 

Adjusting File Size

  • This part can be tricky and frustrating for a first time printer. Please know it is CRUCIAL to size your file correctly before getting started on your poster. You need to do this at the BEGINNING of your poster journey.
    • For example, if you wanted a poster that was 36*48 but used a 16:9 template / file size, not only is your poster not compatible with 36*48,  the only way to make it work is to warp your entire poster or re-do your whole poster. I do not think anyone wants to re-do their poster. 
  • Two resources provided by UPenn that results in the most successful prints are Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Illustrator. Click here for a step by step video and guide on how to size a file in Powerpoint or Illustrator

Poster Size

  • There is NO official standard poster size. Use the size recommended by your class, conference or poster session guidelines. Keep in mind that conferences usually give you the size of the board available-your poster can be smaller than that. 
  • If you are unsure, or if the conference provides requirements in aspect ratio terms, use 36" by 48" for 4:3. 
  • Keep in mind that most poster printers are 42" wide ( including the printers at the Biotech Commons ) so ONE side of your poster cannot be longer than that- the other side can be as long as your heart desires! 

Color Palettes / Visualization

The number one thing to consider when designing a poster is to make it stand out. Whether it is on its own or amongst many, a poster is only effective if it is seen. One of the best ways to ensure that your poster is as eye catching as possible is to use color. But which colors should you use in order to be the most effective? 

  • Monochrome with a pop of color
  • Complimentary Colors 

Another thing to always keep in mind is to focus on showing not telling. Text heavy posters do not read well from a distance. Charts, figures, data, images and illustrations can make your poster more appealing and unique. Why is Visualization in science and medicine so important? It makes it easier for scientists to interact with complex phenomena and convey important subjects not observable in other ways. 

Pixelation / File Types

Inserting an image or chart on a poster is a great way to communicate your work in an engaging way. Adding logos is also a crucial part to most poster headers. Click here for high resolution UPenn logos. With that being said, something we see a lot is pixelation. There is a way to prevent this. 

  • DO NOT USE SCREENSHOTS & DO NOT USE COPY+PASTE, especially when getting images off of Google. Files usually cannot handle that level of conversion, and that is when pixelation begins. 
  • Use the "save as" feature on your computer when getting graphics that are not your own, and always use your own images if possible. 
  • Know the correct file type when saving your image. Save your files as .eps, .svg and if that is not an option, do .png or .jpeg. Click here for the difference in file types. 

How to Submit to Print via Biotech

Step 1: Read the requirements for your event before creating your poster!! It is your job to bring us a finished and correctly sized file within the rules of your event. Our service has no affiliation with your event guidelines, professors or assignments unless otherwise specified / communicated to us in advance. 

Step 2: Assemble and Design your Poster!

Step 3: Proofread! We do not proofread your poster. We only check for resolution. 

Step 4: Save and Export as a PDF. 

Step 5: Determine your payment method. You can pay via credit card ( we will send you an online invoice after reviewing your file ) or via a grant/department. PENN AFFILIATION ONLY FOR DEPARTMENT PAYMENTS. Click here to fill out the Department payment form, prior to submission is better.  

Step 6: SUBMIT!! :) Schedule an appointment / use the online submission. We do not print at appointments. Click here to submit / access our website. Further explanation for our guidelines and turnaround times can be found there. Make sure to give us ample time to get your order done. You have to pay extra for same day service. 

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