A Few Tips on Designing a Poster Presentation

Posters are visual communication tools that serve as a starting point for in-depth conversations. An effective poster will attract attention and acquaint participants with the fundamentals of your project or study quickly and easily. Putting together a research poster can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done so before. In conjunction with students at the University of Connecticut Digital Media and Design department, we've put together a few tips for how to create an effective and compelling research poster.

Check out the video and notes below. These are just a few suggestions. If you have questions, comments, or additional suggestions, please share them in the comments area in our Professional Resource Center (open to members only), and help us make this a great resource!

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Creating Research Posters

Think of a poster as an advertisement of your work. Rather than providing all the details of your research, an effective poster acquaints participants with the essentials of your work quickly and clearly, creating a frame of reference and stimulating a detailed discussion. To this end, you'll want to focus on two key elements: content and design.


Depending on your research and the information you want to convey, there are many categories to choose from. As a starting point, we'd recommend that your poster include:

  • Introduction 
  • Purpose 
  • Methodology 
  • Analysis 
  • Summary
Additional Common Categories to Consider
Research Question Materials Recommendations
Objectives Discussion Potential Solutions
Introduction Analysis Future Directions
Background Results Next Steps
Methods Findings Acknowledgements
Study Design Successes References
Independent Variables Conclusions Literature Cited


Now that you have decided on the contents of your poster presentation, it is time to design the poster! There are a number of design elements and layouts you could use in creating your poster. Here are some elements you might want to consider regarding the design/appearance of your poster:

  • Banner 
  • Columns 
  • Balance 
  • Fonts 
  • White Space 
  • Graphics 
  • Color

A few templates we found that you may find useful:


We're working with the University of Connecticut student team to craft resources for ISA members, like this video. To learn more about the team and projects, check out Behind the Scenes.

Interested in connecting with the team at ISA 2017 in Baltimore? Students will be clad in black and khaki (and carry staff badges), as they document the participant experience at ISA Conventions. We'll have an Interview Spot set up in the second floor of the Hilton, near the onsite registration desk. It's a great opportunity to share your thoughts about the Convention and the Association with the ISA community. Stop by and say hello, see what we're up to, and maybe even take a turn in front of the camera.

Short-Term Release Only!

Please be aware that these episodes are going to be viewable here for a short time only. To view the permanent version and/or leave comments, please visit this page in our Professional Resource Center (note: the PRC is a members-only resource).

The International Studies Association

Representing over 100 countries, ISA has more than 6,500 members worldwide and is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. Endeavoring to create communities of scholars dedicated to international studies, ISA is divided into 6 geographic subdivisions of ISA (Regions), 29 thematic groups (Sections) and 4 Caucuses which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and research with local colleagues and within specific subject areas.
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