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Poster Presentations for Beginners

Layout and Sizing

Always follow your class/conference poster instructions for poster size, orientation and formatting. For printed, large electronic and virtual poster presentations, the most common orientation layout will be landscape48” x 36” is a popular poster size for printed posters. Do not set your your poster orientation to portrait unless specified by your class/conference guidelines.





Do not place text, graphics, titles, logos or other design elements near the edges of your poster (background color is OK to fill to the edges). If you do not leave at least a 1 - 1.5 inch margin (blank space) around the edges of your poster, information may get cut off by the side of the paper or screen. 



Maintain a consistent, even margin width (the blank space between text boxes, headings and graphic elements) around the entire poster to balance your presentation and make it visually appealing. Do not clutter your poster with too much information, edit your text!! Include key points about the information that you are presenting, but, not every detail. Be sure to leave plenty of whitespace (whitespace is the areas of your poster that do not have text or graphic elements)! A balance of text, graphics and whitespace will ensure that your poster is easy to read. 




Use different size fonts for your presentation. There should be noticeable size differences between the title, author, section/headings and body text. Do not use fun or unprofessional fonts – papyrus, comic sans, curlz or script .

Easy to read fonts for section heading/body text include Arial, Helvetica, Gill Sans, Verdana


For a 48" x 36" presentation:

TITLE should be BOLD text between 80 - 100 pt.

AUTHOR(S) at least 50 - 80 pt.

SECTION/HEADINGS 40 - 60 pt. These should be in a larger size than body text.

BODY text should be 24 - 50 pt.


Make sure your text is big enough to be read at a distance and your text boxes are a consistent width throughout the poster.

Do not underline or italicize your body text, it makes it difficult for viewers to read.

Remember to title your graphs, images and other visual elements.


Graphics that you may want to incorporate into your poster include graphs, photographs, charts, illustrations, maps, drawings, data and data visualizations. Make sure to clear any copyright issues, attribute and cite all of your sources for all unoriginal graphics and information/data, using one citation format.


Lower quality images found on the Internet such as small jpegs, gifs or screenshots are not suitable for large scale printing or large digital displays. They will appear blurry and pixelated when enlarged or printed. Images used for websites are low resolution, usually 72 dpi, in order to allow websites to load quickly. For larger paper and digital presentations, make sure your graphics/images are high resolution - 300 dpi jpeg or tiff files.


                    High resolution, suitable for printing and display.                                       Low resolution, not suitable for printing or display.           



For large printed posters - 300 dpi images, tiffs or jpegs - no gifs or screenshots, high resolution.

For large digital presentations - at least 150 dpi.

For virtual/small screen presentations - 72 dpi (screenshots and other lower resolution graphics will work at this resolution).


For more information regarding copyright and using unoriginal graphics or data in your presentation, please visit the Library Copyright Overview Research Guide linked below. This guide will give you an in depth explanation on what you are allowed to use, when you must ask permission from copyright holders, and the differences between Fair Use, Creative Commons and protected items.


It is important to make sure that every element presented on your poster is properly cleared, cited and attributed. 


GSU Library Copyright Overview Research Guide

Color and Accessibility


Try to limit yourself to no more than 3 colors in one poster - Text, background, headings (excluding graphics). Too many colors will decrease accessibility and distract from the information that you are presenting. 


Using a white or light colored background with darker text or a dark background with white text will ensure that viewers are able to easily read your poster. Avoid using overly busy patterns, graphics or photographs as a background, they will distract the viewer from the information that you are presenting and make your poster hard to read.


The GSU Communications Toolkit link below provides guidance on using colors that are a part of the official Georgia State University color palette.




There are many different types of vision conditions that may affect your audience's ability to view your presentation. The most common types of color blindness affects the way that people see differences in red and green & blue and yellow.


In order to keep your presentation accessible to the widest possible audience, keep your color scheme simple. Avoid using brash color combinations in the background, text or graphics of your poster. 


For further reading regarding color accessibility: