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Engineering Library: Designing conference posters

Information about the Department of Engineering Library, including information for researchers

Designing Conference Posters

Conference posters are a simple, visual, and effective way of sharing your research. They may be presented at academic or professional conferences, Departmental events, or educational events for the general public. A well-designed poster allows you to communicate information about your work in a concise and appealing manner, and engage with colleagues, peers and others in a conversational setting. 

Creating a conference poster is a balancing act between including enough detail to effectively describe your work, and keeping it visually attractive and minimal enough that people can understand at least the main points at a glance.

This module will help you create effective conference posters and introduce key design principles. 

The Engineering Library team offer support and training on designing conference posters, so feel free to contact us if you have any questions. If you want to book a one-to-one supervision for personalised support, please use our Booking Form.

To see what training is available this year please see our Training Programme


Skills for the Informed Engineer Digital Badges

Completion of the Conference Poster activity in this module fulfils the requirement for the Poster Design badge and counts towards the Informed Engineer badge.

Badges will be awarded at the end of each Term.

Design Basics

You can watch a short video on Conference Poster Design and key design principles by clicking the link below.

conference poster video

Poster Layouts

The University does not specify a particular poster template to use. The images below represent one possible layout, both as a landscape and portrait poster, but they are only to be taken as a guide to help you come up with your own designs. 


Activity: Create a Conference Poster

Using either paper and pen, or a digital tool of your choice such as Canva, Publisher or PowerPoint, create a template or a draft design for a conference poster. This poster can illustrate your current research, or be based on previous work or an imaginary research project. 

Think about the key principles from the video above:

  • Simplicity: What are your key points? How much text do you need?
  • Visual appeal: How can you visualise your data or results? How will you use colour and layout?
  • Readability: What font will you use? How will you label headings and reading order?

Think about where you might want to place text, graphics and images. Remember to give your poster a title. 

Completion of the Conference Poster activity in this module fulfils the requirement for the Information Creator badge and counts towards the Informed Engineer badge. Badges will be awarded at the end of each Term.



Session Slides

Poster resources

There are several online resources that can help you when it comes to designing conference posters. Some you may find helpful are:

Cambridge Brand Resources: The University of Cambridge brand website, containing templates, graphics and instructions about the correct use of University branding including the University crest. 

Academic Presentations: Posters: In-depth information on academic poster design from the University of Hull Skills Guides.

Better Scientific Poster: Downloadable templates via OSF, from Mike Morrison, creator of the #BetterPoster movement.

Designing Conference Posters: Useful guidance and templates from researcher and poster design expert Colin Purrington.

How to Design an Award-Winning Conference Poster: Article from the London School of Economics blog.

Poster tools

There are several tools you can use to design a poster. Which one you use is up to you, depending on what you have access to and are comfortable using. Possible tools you can investigate include:

Canva: Free online design tool with thousands of pre-prepared templates, shapes, colours and graphics.

Adobe InDesign: Design software which features page design and layout functionality to design a professional-looking poster.

Adobe Illustrator: Illustration software that can be used to create images and poster layouts.

Microsoft Publisher: Microsoft's main tool for page design and layout.

Microsoft PowerPoint: An easy to use tool for designing slides and posters, which you may already be familiar with.

For help accessing software and support, please see the UIS Software Help website.

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