Printable version of this guide (this is designed to be printed double-sided on A4 paper, then folded to make an A5 leaflet).
The first thing you need to do is check the size of poster you need to produce, whether it should be portrait or landscape, and whether you will have space for things like handouts, flyers and feedback sheets.
If you have a poster that you expect to present more than once, it may be worth designing it on Powerpoint, and getting it printed and laminated. (Most print shops offer this service.) However, this can be expensive. If you are only going to present the information once, it will be easier to produce the information in 'snippets' that you can cut out and arrange, either on a large backing sheet, or directly on a display board. Either way, you will need to think carefully about selecting the appropriate information, and arranging it so that the reader will be able to follow what you have done.
A poster presentation is not usually an essay stuck on a board! (But do check what is expected for your discipline here.) Plan your information as for an oral presentation – 3 or 4 main points, succinctly made. Add an introduction which gives the background, and a summarising conclusion. Edit ruthlessly! (See Preparing presentations for more on selecting and structuring.)
When you are designing your poster, place the title prominently and make sure the boxes that contain your information are placed in a logical visual pattern for your readers to follow. Include a box with credits for all the people involved in the research the poster describes.
Keeping plenty of white space around each box will make your information easier to read. Use a clear font like Arial or Verdana, and make it big enough to be read at a distance of between 1-2 metres. Bullet points can help the reader to identify important points.
If you're more used to presenting information in writing, it may be difficult to work out how to do it visually and make it attractive and interesting, as well as accessible and readable. Have a look at Visual.ly for some inspiration. Ask yourself which types of visual communication you find easiest to read and are attracted to - and think about why that is. Then follow those principles for your own poster.
For sources of copyright-cleared images, see the Library's info-tip on Illuminating images!
If you are presenting research which has been conducted by a group, it may be helpful to look at Making Groupwork Work (LearnHigher)
There won't be much time for people to view and take in the information on your poster, so it's helpful to have some information they can take away. This might include:
a small version of the poster as a flyer
a slip or card with the poster title, your name and email address if you don't want to give away your results
contact details in case readers want to know more
One of the reasons for giving poster presentations is to get feedback on your research, so think about ways that people might give you this.
You might have a feedback form that you ask people to fill in on the day
Or ask them to email you with any comments
One of the simplest ways to collect feedback is to have sticky notes available and a feedback sheet to stick them on.
On the day…
Don't forget to take: drawing pins, sticky pads or Blutack to put the poster up; contact details; handouts; pens and sticky notes for comments; most importantly, your poster!
You will still be expected to 'present' the information. This usually means standing by the poster and being prepared to talk through the information and answer questions. You are likely to be dealing with individuals or small groups.
As with oral presentations, it will help to rehearse what you want to say, and think about the kind of questions people might ask and how you will respond. See Delivering presentations for more advice on this.