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Poster Design: Tips for Creating a Successful Poster


When making an academic poster, you should know who will be viewing it. 

Will it be other academics?  Or the general public? 

Can you assume a common understanding of terminology or theory? 

Or will you have to put your ideas in accessible layman’s terms?

Will people viewing the poster be expecting a certain format or layout because of traditional expectations?

Writing for the Layperson

Tips for writing for the layperson

  • Try to explain your research in 25 words
  • The text should provide answers to the essential questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?
  • Give the reader a reason to care about what you do- address the “so what?” Focus on the relevance; why is the work important to them?
  • Provide context. Give concrete everyday examples. Paint a picture for the reader.
  • Write in active voice.
  • The text should be ordered logically and flow naturally. For example, ideas should be introduced as they are required, and new ideas usually should not be introduced late in the text.
  • Use short, clear sentences (25 words or less) and avoid complex grammatical structures.
  • Minimize the use of jargon, scientific and technical terms and acronyms. If this is unavoidable, provide explanations.
  • Avoid complex terms and phrases and use plain English.
  • Find someone who is not in your field to read over your text. Get feedback on your draft from colleagues, supervisors and at least one non-specialist to your field.

Use simple words and cut out unnecessary words. Here are examples of words and phrases that can be simplified in order to make it easier to understand for a reader:

  • Participate in --> take part
  • Prior to --> before
  • Discontinue --> stop
  • In the event of --> if
  • Duration --> time
  • Inform --> tell
  • Scheduled to undergo --> due to have
  • Accordingly, consequently --> so
  • With reference to, with regard to --> about
  • If this is the case --> if so
  • For the purpose of --> to