When deciding what content to include in your poster, aim to convey the essential information succinctly and visually. Consider:
- What type of narrative should my poster communicate?
An effective poster will tell a unified story. All the parts of the poster need to be logically connected to each other and there needs to be a congruence between the content of the poster, including text and visuals. Consider whether your poster requires a persuasive and critical argument, or if a more neutral presentation of information is expected for your poster narrative.
- What information is required for my poster, and what information can I exclude?
Being selective with content will give your poster greater focus and impact.
- What information can be represented visually with a graph, figure or image, and what information must be communicated with text?
A poster with too much text is visually unappealing and hard to read, so try to 'tell the story' with engaging visual elements as much as possible.
- How will I organise the content into sections?
Sometimes the task instructions will tell you what sections to use. A common approach is to adopt the same structure as an academic research paper (i.e. introduction/background, aims, research design, results, discussion/conclusion). For some tasks, you may choose to organise the content into sub-topics or themes.
Read the task instructions carefully to understand the poster's requirements and communication purpose.
Use the task instructions to organise your poster's content. Although poster requirements can differ across subject areas and assessment tasks, many posters include some or all of the following elements when explaining a research study:
Your poster will need a title. It should capture the main idea of what you are presenting, so viewers can understand the poster's topic quickly.
The title needs to sound interesting to encourage your audience to have a closer look. Consider your context and audience when choosing an engaging title:
- In some contexts you can take a creative approach (e.g. writing an interesting or surprising title to grab the audience's attention).
- In other contexts, the best poster title might reflect an interesting problem or issue in your research (e.g. using the title to clearly state the specific research topic or problem covered by your poster, using the terminology of your academic discipline).
This usually appears under the title, and is sometimes also named 'collaborators'.
List yourself as the poster's author if you developed the poster alone, or list all of the authors if you developed the poster in a team.
Most likely in developing the content for your poster, you will refer to the work of other authors and researchers (e.g. academics in your discipline). Although these other researchers are not the authors of your poster, you should acknowledge them somewhere on your poster as the original sources of the information (typically with citations and references).
The background provides information necessary for your audience to understand the research you present in the poster. It may also include the reason why you conducted the research. This might be outlining the problem you are looking to solve, or the research gap you have identified in the literature. The background section should be brief, and can often be presented as dot points or even a single sentence.
This is what your research sets out to do, including the research questions you intend to answer. Again, it should be brief, and could be presented as a simple list.
This is how you approached your research (e.g. your methodology, research approach, process or materials). There should be a clear, logical connection between your research aims (i.e. the ‘what’) and your research design (i.e. the ‘how’).
In the results section, you would typically report the data or outcomes produced by your research. Common examples include communicating the results or key findings of experiments or research questions.
Try to communicate your results in a clear and compelling way:
- Less is more: You will have limited poster space in which to share the results. You may have a large volume of data or complex results. However, your poster's audience will prefer results that are concise and easy to understand quickly.
- Visualise your results: Visualising your results in a graph, table or other visual element can communicate the key information more efficiently than written text.
- Link to other sections: Make sure the results flow logically from the stated research aims/design, and effectively set up the discussion/conclusions arising from the result.
The last section of a poster typically tells the audience what can be learned from your research. This section often includes:
- your interpretation of the results
- the conclusions you have drawn from the results
- the insights or significance of the conclusions for your topic or field.
Make sure your discussion and/or conclusions flow logically from the preceding sections. For example, make sure you address your stated research aims and/or questions, and note the significance of your findings for the research problem identified in the background section.
Sometimes it may be appropriate to have separate poster sections for Discussion and Conclusions, or you may need a Recommendations section (in place of or in combination with Conclusions). Consider your task's requirements when choosing section headings.
The content or sections of your poster will depend on the specific requirements of your assessment task or discipline. For example, you may be expected to provide more descriptive or tailored section headings to suit the specific requirements of your project or assignment. If in doubt, check the task instructions or ask your teaching staff for clarification.
Check your understanding View
Explore this quiz to check your understanding of different sections of a poster .
Which section of the poster does each of the images below correspond to? Click the icon to expand the image.
Once you have decided what content to include, the next step is to consider how to present it.