April 25, 2017

Poster Information

Professional Poster Presentations

Posters are a common way to present scholarly work.

Use these tips to create an effective poster to communicate your project. Check our Events page for upcoming Poster Making Workshops. Additional poster writing workshops are held by SP@RC Lab located in Fenwick Library. For additional information, please visit their website.

OSCAR Poster Templates (in Powerpoint format)









Please feel free to download and edit to suit your content!

Designing your poster

Three elements interact during a poster presentation:


  • Explains the project
  • Has short oral summary prepared
  • Use poster as graphic support
  • Professional in dress and behavior


  • Tells a logical story about the project
  • Reads from top-to-bottom, left-to-right
  • Must be neat, professional, and well-organized
  • Stands as an independent scholarly work


  • Interacts at three levels
  • Distant: Identifies topic, reads title and name
  • Grazer: understands project, reads sections, graphs, and pictures
  • Captivated: understands project goals and significance, methods, and outcomes, reads text and references

1. Sketch poster on paper first. Information that must be included:

  • Title section
    • Title of presentation: Usually 96-140 point, Sentence case
    • Author name(s)
    • Affiliation (department or program)
    • Email Contact
    • George Mason University logo – logo.gmu.edu
  • 50% text and 50% visuals, which can include pictures, maps, graphs, diagrams, or block text.
  • Sections should include most of the following. These may be named differently, depending on your discipline. If unsure, check prominent research journals or other posters in your field and use those articles as a model.
    • Research question, thesis statement, or hypothesis (Bold this if it is embedded in text).
    • Abstract/Introduction
    • Literature Review/Background
    • Methods
    • Results/Evidence
    • Discussion/Conclusion/Further Directions
    • Acknowledgements
    • Bibliography/Literature Cited

2. Set size and shape first in Page Set-up (Design or File)

  • Always check with conference about their allowable size (56” by 40” PowerPoint maximum)
  • OSCAR standard poster size: 48" wide by 36" height

3. Layout color scheme and background in Slide Master (View)

  • Insert background on master, not slide
    • The background can be picture, texture, or solid color.
    • Pictures should be used cautiously, as they have a tendency to make the poster too busy or difficult to read.
  • Pick text color that is legible and has high contrast to background
    • Use dark text on light background for easier printing.

4. Make your own style guide

Use a standard method for each type of text:

  • Sections and subsections (Bold, 30-36 point)
  • Text font large enough to be read from a distance (18-24 point)
  • Figure captions (18-24 point)- all visual elements should include a figure caption to help readers understand the significance of the graphic, even if they are not reading all the text!
  • Note which colors, italics, bold, and other treatments you are using for each type of text

5. Use Grids and Guides (View or View/Guides) to design layout logically

  • Snap to grid, set grid to 0.5 inch (right click on slide, not available)
  • Guides: Use Control or Option to make more guides, Use Dynamic Guides)
  • Align objects, don’t cross your guides.

6. Additional Hints

  • Posters tell a narrative about your project, starting at the upper left corner and concluding at the lower right corner.
  • Bold your research question, thesis statement, or hypothesis at the beginning of the poster, and the sentence that summarizes your final conclusion at the end, to make it easier for the reader to find this important information.
  • Your color scheme and design should match the topic of the poster. Comic Sans font might work on a poster about elementary education, but not about mortuary rituals.
  • Text – set up your first text box based on style, then copy and paste to reuse.
  • Picture – insert object (when poster is complete, use format picture to reduce file size)
  • Graphs – can copy-and-paste or drag-and-drop from Excel, but be careful using this method, as sizes and colors can change based on pre-set styles.


Printing your poster

  • You can print posters for free through the SP@RC Lab, located in Fenwick Library. To schedule an appointment, please email sparc@gmu.edu.
  • OSCAR recommends that students use a professional printing service to print their posters. The advantages of using a professional printing service are that they are usually fast, and can print posters on higher quality, durable paper (and can laminate).
    • Mason’s Print Services in the Johnson Center or local office shops will print your poster for a fee (usually around $46). Posters usually take 2 business days to be printed, please plan accordingly.
  • If you choose not to use a professional printing service, your school or college may have a large format printer for posters.  Ask your faculty mentor or check with the dean’s office to see if this option is available to you. Again, paper can be of lower quality, and they usually need a long lead time to print.
  • OSCAR will only cover the cost of printing if:
    • You are an undergraduate student participant in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (please request in your supply budget.)
    • You are a recipient of an Undergraduate Student Travel Fund grant and request the cost of poster printing in your application.
    • You are faculty member with a Scholarship Development Grant and requested poster cost for your RS course

Poster presentation resources

  • Check Events for upcoming Poster Making Workshops.