Whether you’ve already created a poster project for class or you’re converting a different style of project for presentation on a poster, there are a few things you need to consider as you get ready for the Undergraduate Research Conference:
1) Who will be viewing and reading my project?
- Students, faculty, and administrators from ICaP and from other departments and colleges will view your work. University administrators also often stop by the URC. You may present to a student one minute and a dean the next, so your project should be clear and readable for a broad audience.
- Your work will also be evaluated by volunteer judges.
- Consider whether your audience will need to understand your original assignment in order to understand your display. How might you convey the general idea of the project?
2) How do I apply for the Undergraduate Research Conference?
- Apply through the URC website. You’ll need to write a brief abstract explaining your project. The URC offers resources for abstracts, and your ICaP instructor can help as well. The Writing Lab is another great resource for abstracts.
- Keep track of deadlines: for spring 2019, the deadline to apply is March 1.
3) How much space will I have to display information?
- Posters should be either 3′ wide x 4′ high (portrait) OR 3′ wide x 2′ hight (landscape) due to space restrictions. Posters that vary from these sizes will be removed, so make sure you keep your sizes correct. (You can print large-format posters in WALC and HIKS. See below for more.)
4) How much information do I want to convey?
- If you just reprint your paper on a poster, it won’t get much attention. How can you use the poster to visualize the project? Consider how people approach and read over a poster versus an essay. Here are a few examples you might want to check out.
- Parts of your project might be much more effective as charts, graphs, or annotated photographs/graphics.
- Will you be with your presentation the whole time, or will the poster need to stand on its own in your absence? Can the poster speak for itself?
- Don’t include everything – focus on what is important and what the audience needs to understand the project.
5) How do I make my display visually pleasing and functional?
- Here’s a handy tutorial for making posters.
- Consider using a PowerPoint-based template. Here’s an example of a PowerPoint/Google Slides poster.
- Text: Too much text will be daunting. Too many graphics can be distracting.
- Color: Like text, too much or too little color can hinder the viewability of your project. Choose just a few colors that fit the themes of your project. Try to use colors to highlight information.
- Distance: Make sure that your audience can see important headings, facts, and graphics from a fair distance. Stand back from your display—can you read the title? Can you easily skim subheadings? Are pictures and charts clear?
- Consistency: make sure the look of your text and graphics is somewhat consistent. For example, don’t use a different font for every section, or a different color for every heading—you’ll overwhelm your audience’s eye.
6) What is the best way to convey information clearly and quickly?
- Prioritize the information you’ll include on your poster, highlighting major points or interesting facts with bold text, colors, or appropriate graphics.
- Where do you want the viewer’s eye to go first? The eye is naturally drawn to the greatest amount of contrast or the largest text.
- How do you lead the viewer through the display? How long will it take them to figure out what your project is about?
- If you are mainly using a computer-based display, how will you draw people in?
- What parts will the audience get with a glance? What parts are worth reading and lingering over?
7) Where can I get feedback on my display?
- Your writing instructor should have great suggestions for your work.
- The Writing Lab can also work with both the text and the visual aspects of your display. Make an appointment to meet with a consultant in the Lab at any stage of your project, from getting started in your display to final revisions.
8) How do I print my poster?
- You can print research posters on wide format printers in WALC and HICKS. To print research posts on these printers, you must use the PaperCut service (and must load extra money to the service through your BoilerExpress account. Your allotted print credits cannot be applied to print wide format posters.). The WALC wide format printers cost $4 per foot (for both the 36″ and 40″ wide options). So, for example, a 36″ x 24″ poster is $8. (As of October 2017)
- Don’t wait until the last minute! A sharp display will take some time and thought.
- Make sure you revise and edit your project before you fasten it to your poster or unveil it to your audience. Nothing weakens your credibility like poorly expressed ideas, sloppy or childish visuals, or grammatical errors.
- Get a second opinion. Test your display out on a practice audience.
Resources for Building Visual Displays:
- For key information on design:
- Color (Purdue OWL)
- Fonts (Purdue OWL)
- Texts at The Writing Lab: several copies of Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book are available. Although they cannot be checked out, anyone can stop by and use them.
- Writing @ CSU: detailed information about poster sessions, including how to convert research papers into posters. http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/speaking/poster/
- For key information on design: