Posters and Presentations

Poster presentations can be a very effective way to present your work at professional conferences. The less formal atmosphere of the typical poster session can be a great opportunity to network and make professional connections. The less formal atmosphere is also the greatest challenge of making a poster presentation. A poster session does not involve a static audience with the presenter at the center of attention. Most poster sessions take place in groups with the audience moving about the room. How can you make your presentation stand out among the crowd?

The Population Research Institute (PRI) has compiled the following information to aide you in creating effective poster presentations. This is not intended to be a complete reference on the subject of poster presentations. Hopefully, the materials offered here will provide enough information for you to create an effective poster for your next presentation. For additional help, contact Russell Houtz.

Useful References

The following materials should provide you with a basic understanding of research posters as a type of presentation:

Poster Creation and Presentation
This research guide prepared by the Penn State University Libraries offers tips and resources on design, imagery, and templates.
Designing conference posters
This website by Colin Purrington is one of the top results when searching for “scientific posters” and is referenced by many online resources. The website offers tips, templates, and advice.
Scientific Posters
This page is part of the Penn State College of Engineering's “Writing and Speaking Guidelines for Engineering and Science” website. The page offers some general guidance and a few tips for creating effective poster presentations.
Ten Simple Rules for a Good Poster Presentation
This article condenses much of the background material on research posters into a brief summary.

Sample Posters

Reviewing “real world” examples can be a good way to develop your personal style. Each of the following posters were award winners at their respective presentation and have been used as examples in PRI workshops on creating research posters:

The Population Association of America (PAA) maintains listings of poster session winners from the organization’s past annual meetings. The listing of poster session winners from each year’s annual meeting includes photos of the poster session winners with their posters.

The Penn State University Libraries’ research guide lists several sample posters from different disciplinary categories. The resources available in the research guide’s Design guides section also contain examples that may illustrate the application of the design principles.

There is a Flickr group for Poster sessions. The group includes a collection of photos of posters and people at poster sessions. The group also has a discussion forum where users can post messages or ask questions for comment by the group. For the adventurous, there is even a Flickr group, Pimp My Poster, where users will give you feedback on your poster.

Software Resources

Poster presentations can be created in any one of a variety of software applications. Desktop Publishing Applications offer the most features for handling the layout and design tasks for publications including posters; but these applications may have a steep learning curve. Graphics Editors may be used to essentially “draw” the publications using simple shapes. Presentation Applications typically provide some “drawing” functionality similar to the graphics editors but without the more sophisticated features. Colin Purrington’s website offers some advice on Choosing software.


Desktop Publishing Applications

Graphics Editors

Presentation Applications

LaTeX (Mac/PC)

LaTeX is a “document preparation system.” LaTeX is widely used in scientific and technical disciplines for preparing documents for publication. Some folks have used LaTeX to prepare poster presentations for example:

Software Available in Computer Labs

The PRI has several software applications available that can help you to prepare your poster presentation. Some software is available in the computer lab. Some software is available via remote connection to the PRI’s application servers. The computing services are available to PRI research associates, PRI affiliates, PRI staff, and students enrolled in the Demography program.

Penn State’s Classroom and Lab Computing also has a selection of applications for both Windows and Mac platforms. Labs are available at various locations around the campus.

Learning to Use Software

Penn State has several resources available to help you with learning to use software applications. Penn State’s ITS Training Services offers live workshops. There are also a number of online training opportunities including video tutorials from The PRI has created a “Design Primer” playlist of courses to introduce you to some fundamental principles of graphic design.
(Note. The previous link to the “Design Primer” playlist requires a Penn State Access Account to access the playlist via Penn State’s arrangement. You can also access a publicly-viewable version of the “Design Primer” playlist.

Printing Your Poster

PRI’s Policy

PRI associates and graduate students are responsible for arranging the printing of their own posters. Graduate students who are on the program for a PAA meeting can get one copy of a poster printed on PRI funds. The PRI will not provide funding for reprints. Contact Rachel Charney for more information.

Printing Services

There are several options available for printing your poster. The University offers a couple of on-campus printing services. You are also free to use an outside service of your choosing. There are several print services in the State College area and more services available on the Web. Note that the PRI does not provide funds to pay for printing at a service outside of the University.

University Printing Services

Acknowledge PRI Support

PRI provides assistance to faculty affiliates at all stages of the research process. You may have received help with your grant application, budget management, programming, statistical consulting and training, restricted data access, desktop support, data storage, computer server maintenance, or project meeting scheduling. If you received assistance from the PRI, please acknowledge the PRI in your research publications.

Suggested Acknowledgment:

We acknowledge assistance provided by the Population Research Institute at Penn State University, which is supported by an infrastructure grant by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD041025).