Poster Advice and Guidelines for Instructors & Students

Criteria for Evaluation of Posters by the Judges

When selecting the winning posters, judges will base their decisions on the following general criteria:

  • creativity
  • significance and effectiveness
  • practicality/reasonability of the argument presented
  • quality of research

Receive help in researching topics for the Earth Day poster competition.

See Pictures of Last Year's Winning Entries

Students are expected to stand next to their posters during the event in order to answer questions.

Please NOTE the following restrictions:

  • Posters must be primarily the work of students and not faculty; please no faculty co-authors
  • Poster size must be 3’ x 4’ and must be mounted on free-standing, tri-fold poster board
  • Students may not re-enter posters that have been used in previous Earth Day poster competitions, unless there has been significant or substantial addition or revision

Rationale for Assigning Poster Presentations in Your Courses

We encourage you to consider assigning poster presentations in your classes. This kind of assignment:

  • allows students to share their research to a broader audience
  • presents students with the important challenge of communicating research results to a general audience unfamiliar with the specialized vocabulary of particular disciplines
  • encourage students to develop their ability to integrate written texts with images, a skill that is becoming increasingly in demand with the growth of the Internet.

Characteristics of Effective Poster Sessions

Effective poster presentations:

  • look professional
  • have a clear focus (a viewer should easily be able to discern the purpose of a given poster, and the poster should visually demonstrate the thesis of a student’s research project)
  • are concise and communicate only the essential information of a research project (including research questions and summary of research methods and results)
  • convey the significance of the research project
  • reflect the presenter’s ability to accommodate the intended audience’s needs, interests, and knowledge of the poster’s subject
  • avoid the use of jargon and acronyms
  • integrate images and text in ways that are visually pleasing and allow viewers to discern a logical, well-organized progression of information or ideas (it may be useful, for example, to imagine that posters, through words and images, “tell the story” of research projects)
  • contain a good title, helpful section headings, and text in typeface that can be easily read from at least three feet away, such as 18 point font or 24 point font
  • rely on graphs or charts as much as possible to communicate findings; these, too, should be large enough for viewers to read from a distance
  • use color to attract and keep viewers’ interest
  • provide enough white space between images and texts so that the posters do not seem cluttered
  • contain a bibliography displayed at the bottom of the poster (or on the back of the poster if viewers will have easy access to this information)
  • contain photo or graph credits in 12 point or 14 point font at the bottom of each photo or graph.
  • See an award-winning example poster (PowerPoint)

Suggested Materials

  • a trifold cardboard (3 feet x 4 feet) or tri-fold foam board
  • colored construction paper for displaying materials
  • a glue stick, clear push pins, or clear tape for attaching materials
  • computer graphics

Tips for Faculty

If you assign poster presentations for your courses, you may find it helpful to do the following:

  1. discuss the purpose(s) of poster presentations with students and the ways poster presentations differ from written reports of their research
  2. communicate criteria for grading
  3. give students the opportunity to view and discuss sample poster presentations. Examples of prize winning poster presentations will be on display in The Writing Center.
  4. schedule enough time for this assignment so that you can provide students with feedback throughout the process of designing the posters (this may include asking students to submit a “rough draft” of their posters before the final versions are due); please refer to the sample schedule below that assumes students have already completed their research for their projects.

Sample Schedule for Poster Presentations:

Week 1 students submit preliminary thesis statements and outlines of their poster presentations
Week 2 students submit rough drafts of their poster presentations
Week 3 students submit final versions of their poster presentations

Available Resources at the Writing Center

The Mary G. Walsh Writing Center, located in room 113 of the Berry Library and Learning Commons on the North Campus (LIB 113), is happy to provide the following resources to help students produce their poster presentations:

  • trained tutors who will be available to work one-on-one with students throughout the various stages of their projects
  • sample prize winning poster presentations on display for students to view whenever the Writing Center is open
  • handouts that describe the characteristics of effective poster presentations
  • copies of Lester Faigley’s Brief Penguin Handbook, the handbook adopted by English Department for its composition courses. This handbook not only provides excellent advice on how to produce/edit texts, but also suggests ways to integrate images with texts most effectively.

Available Computer Resources on Campus

In order to complete posters, students can take advantage of open computer labs available on campus. Campus computing include

  • Meier Hall 201
  • Central Campus 154
  • Sullivan Building 111
  • Harrington Building 118
  • O'Keefe 129

These labs provide students with access to desktop computers and a full suite of software. All of these labs make available Microsoft's Publisher, a program that offers powerful and effective ways to compose an entire poster, or just elements of a poster, with relative ease. The program provides on-line tutorials as well as readymade templates for a variety of purposes and themes. In addition to Publisher, students with access to programs such as Illustrator, Freehand, or Pagemaker can take advantage of these to design their posters. Lab hours are posted online.

SSU logo