Transforming Your Project


Transforming Your Project into a Showcase Display

1) Who will be viewing and reading my project?

  1. Students, faculty, and administrators from ICaP and from other departments will view your work. Your work will also be evaluated by volunteer judges.
  2. 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 much space will I have to display information?

  1. Each presenter will have half of a six foot table, with enough room for a tri-fold display board, plus any additional materials to go in front.
  2. Do you want to present your project with a single panel poster, a tri-fold poster, a poster  plus a laptop with a PowerPoint? In the Spring, ICaP provides tri-fold posters free in the ICaP Main Office, Heavilon 302.
  3. Using a PowerPoint or a website can be just as effective as a free-standing poster depending on your project and the information you want to get across. Consider what advantages/disadvantages each medium offers. Consider that people have different expectations of posters than they do of PowerPoints. Think about mixing media.

4) How much information do I want to convey?

  1. If you just staple your paper to 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.
  2. Parts of your project might be much more effective as charts, graphs, or annotated photographs/graphics.
  3. 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?
  4. 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?

  1. Text: Too much text will be daunting. Too many graphics can be distracting.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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?

  1. Prioritize the information you’ll include on your poster, highlighting major points or interesting facts with bold text, colors, or appropriate graphics.
  2. 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.
  3. How do you lead the viewer through the display? How long will it take them to figure out what your project is about?
  4. If you are mainly using a computer-based display, how will you draw people in?
  5. What parts will the audience get with a glance? What parts are worth reading and lingering over?

7) What will the overall aesthetic of my display be?

  1. What kind of tone or look do you want your display to have? Fun, professional, serious? How will you grab your viewers’ attention? How will you keep it?

8) Where can I get feedback on my display?

  1. Your writing instructor should have great suggestions for your work.
  2. 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.



Other Advice:

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute! A sharp display will take some time and thought.
  2. 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.
  3. Get a second opinion. Test your display out on a practice audience.

Resources for Building Visual Displays:

The Purdue OWL

  1. visual rhetoric resources provides key information on font choice, color usage, graphics, etc.:
  2. resource dedicated entirely to the subject of PowerPoints!


Texts at The Writing Lab: several copies of Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book 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.

Downloadable PDF copy of this sheet: Transforming Your Project into a Showcase Display