Naomi Nagy

Linguistics at U of T

Resources for making conference posters

There are two general approaches to making a poster:

  • make one big page, using Powerpoint
  • make a whole bunch of small pages, using various programs (word processors, spreadsheets, Powerpoint...)

The first approach creates a more elegant, but also more expensive (to print) poster.

The "how-to" instructions below focus on the one-page approach, but you should consider the same aesthetic guidelines for both approaches.

Here are some resources for poster-making, suggested by members of our Department.

  • is a short document with lots of good guidelines for using powerpoint to make a poster.
  • This is an AMAZING 20-minute Quicktime video, also about using powerpoint to make a poster, that goes through the process step-by-step. It's all screenshots with narration. Good for those who learn by watching. Also, it goes slowly enough that if you can work where there are two computers side-by-side (or one really big screen), you can actually watch the video on one while following along on the other, if you learn by doing.
  • Guidelines I used to learn to make posters:
  • Another set of guidelines, adapted from a handout by Aya Matsuda, with permission.


    Your poster should provide relevant information about your project, highlighting the most important parts, and leaving out the rest.

    Be sure to include Title, Author(s), Abstract, References.



    • What makes posters different from papers and oral presentation is the role visuals play in its presentation. In papers and oral presentations, visuals (graphs, tables, photos, maps, diagrams, cartoons, etc.) are used to illustrate points made in the text/speech, help the audience follow your argument, and/or assist them remember what you said.
    • In a poster, visuals play a more central role—the visual is “what you say.” You may use text, of course, but do not post a paper.
    • Rather, use bulleted lists, quotations or short paragraphs to make your points.
    • Use larger fonts than usual for papers—at least 18 point type.

    Make it attractive

    During a conference poster session, the audience will walk by many posters, stopping only at the ones which look interesting to them. Thus, getting (and keeping) the attention of the audience is very important. Use informative text and attractive graphics to catch the audience’s attention—for example, the color contrast between the background (even the poster board) and posted material can be very eye-catching.

    Keep it simple

    Try not to present too much detail because cluttered posters are hard to read and not inviting. Give only the outline/main points.

    Be creative

    Experiment with different fonts, formats, colors, layout, etc. to make your poster effective and attractive.

Printing the poster

When you've finished making your poster, you need to get it printed somewhere with a large format printer.

  • At U of T, the best option is Cartographic Services of the Geography Department, right here in the basement of Sid Smith, Room 617a. (Scroll down on their page to the link "Large format printing for poster presentations - University community only" to download their information pdf. )They are cheaper, but only print on Wednesday mornings (last I checked).
  • If you can't meet their schedule, you can try some place like Kinko's (Closest location: 459 Bloor Street West; Tel: 416-928-0110; Hours: 24/7). Either way, bring a PDF file (not a PPT file) for them to print from. (If you go to Kinko's bring both the original file and a PDF -- they don't seem quite sure about which way prints best.)

This page was last updated May 15, 2010 .

email: naomi dot nagy at utoronto dot ca | Return to my home page