A poster is an abstract. The mistake most frequently made is to put too much information on your poster. Your poster should be an eye-catcher, containing a brief message, understood at a glance. It is claimed that you have about three seconds to catch the audience’s attention. To achieve this ’’three second hit’’ there are some aspects that you can take into account when you set out to design a poster.

Steps in Poster Design

What is the ’’overall message’’ you intend to present?

Define your audience: who do you want to reach? How expert are they?

What can you assume to be common knowledge?

What should the audience remember?

Gather content: before editing, write down all aspects of your message that you can think of – the essential issues, arguments, items of evidence, explanations, and conclusions.

Think of a sequence that will hold the audience’s attention and lead the eyes and mind to follow your argument from its start to its conclusion.

Create sections: classify the information that you have gathered.

Make a heading for each section to stimulate the interest of the audience and introduce the following text.

Make a statement for the information in each section: limit the information in each section to a caption and a statement, not exceeding five points.

Find a focus, eliminate noise (edit, edit, edit!): try to explain your message to an 11-year-old.

Put it together: only after all these steps have been taken you can make the poster. If your message can be read when you sketch it on one sheet of A4 (21630 cm) or ’’legal-sized’’ (8.5614 inch) paper, then the proportion is probably good.

Design of the Poster


All posters must clearly indicate project number, title, student’s name and supervisor’s name

The content of the poster must include abstract, background of project, approach, results and conclusion.

The design of your poster must be on an A1 sheet.


Use colour for a logo or a picture. Avoid coloured background. In the body of the poster, only use a support colour to group information that belongs together.

Text Size

Must be easily readable.

Style and Type

Use one or at most two fonts. Only use Bold, CAPITALS or Italic when it absolutely cannot be avoided.


Only use pictures or other illustrations as an eye-catcher or when necessary to understand your message. Avoid unnecessary details on the picture.


Criteria of the Good Poster


Is the poster’s key message immediately clear to the reader? Usually, people can remember a mean of seven items, plus or minus two. Be on the safe side, and list no more than five items. If you must address more than five items, group and categorise them into a tree-structure with headings and subheadings.


Every word on the poster should be relevant to the poster. Omit sidelines, a poster is an abstract.


Every word on the poster should be necessary to understand the poster’s message. The information should be as limited as possible.


The poster should look nice and inviting. It must attract attention and its appearance must not distract from the message. Simplicity is usually the best.


The lettering should be large enough, also for older viewers standing at a distance of 1 – 2 metres. It is tempting to reduce the font size to allow for more information on the poster, but this will discourage passers-by.


Note: Please also refer to the rubric for poster evaluation marks to have a general idea of what the evaluators are looking for.

herman wahid,
Apr 2, 2013, 12:22 AM