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Creating a Poster: Design Tips


Size and Fonts

The text on your poster should be...simple, direct, & large

  • visible from at least 3 feet away. Passersby should be able to understand and see each component on your poster. In order to achieve this use a font that is at least 24pt for the main body text, 85pt for the title, and 18pt for the captions.
  • minimal. If possible you should use images and graphs instead of text. If you must use text keep it brief. Limit text elements to 50 words.
  • serif fonts (e.g., Times New Roman) are easy to read and good for most body text of the poster.
  • sans-serif fonts (e.g. Arial) are good for titles and label figures.
  • proofread. Having someone read through your text before printing your poster is essential.


Use color to...

  • attract attention. Be aware of the color combinations you are using. If you use black and orange as your main colors, for example, your poster will look like Halloween. 
  • organize your poster. Select at most 2-3 colors to feature on your poster. Use the colors strategically to help organize content. Make sure that your pattern of colors is consistent-- otherwise you might confuse the viewer.
  • emphasize. A poster with a light background and dark letters will provide contrast and be easy to read.

Avoid common color mistakes...

  • gradients. These may look good on your computer screen, but it is difficult to achieve this look printed on your poster.
  • bright colors. The colors will attract attention to your poster, but will quickly tire a reader's eyes.
  • not enough contrast. If shades are too close to each other, people will have trouble distinguishing between them. You can use the WebAIM Contrast Checker to test this with your own color choices.
  • problematic color combinations. Don’t use colors that will render posters unintelligible to those with color deficient alleles. e.g. black & red; green & orange.


Your poster should ...

  • use a visual grammar to guide readers to the important parts of your poster.
  • use a column format to make your poster easier to read in a crowd.
  • use organization cues to guide readers through your poster.
  • use headings intelligently to help readers find your main points and key information.
  • balance the placement of text and graphics to create visual appeal.
  • use white space creatively to help define the flow of information.

design of posters with horizontal symmetry, horizontal and vertical symmetry, diagonal symmetry, and asymmetry

Image credit: NC State University poster layout guide