All UCLA undergraduate students engaged in humanities, arts, and social sciences research are encouraged to apply to present posters at Undergraduate Research Week. Guidelines for creating a research poster are below. For students in the arts, a poster may be broadly defined as a visual display of creative work.
Posters for Undergraduate Research Week may be any size up to 48 inches by 48 inches. A small number of computer monitors will also be available for students presenting digital research or creative projects.
The Undergraduate Research Center--Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences hosts workshops in spring quarter to help students create posters for Undergraduate Research Week, as well as other conferences. Graduate Student Mentors will go over the basics of creating an effective poster. You do not need to sign up in advance to attend.
All Poster Workshops will be held in the Inquiry Lab 1 (room 238), on the second floor of the Powell Building.
For students wishing to have their posters printed, please click here (Adobe PDF document). Campus printing locations and rates are listed.
What is a Research Poster?
A research poster is an organized visual display of your research project.
Typically, you present your poster in a poster session at a conference or seminar. In most poster sessions, numerous posters are displayed. Conference or seminar attendees will walk by your poster, study its contents, and ask you questions. You should be prepared to answer questions and to explain your project one-on-one frequently throughout the poster session.
An effective poster:
- Presents your research in an organized and visually pleasing way. Posters typically contain both text and graphics (charts, tables, lists, etc.).
- Is self-explanatory. In the case that you aren’t standing by your poster, or if you are otherwise engaged in conversation, anyone walking by should be able to view your poster and understand your project.
- Is easy to read. Be sure your text and graphics are large enough that multiple people standing a few feet away can read your poster simultaneously.
- Is concise. Your poster should summarize your project quickly and efficiently. Avoid long paragraphs. Bullet points are often very effective. Figure out how you might present parts of your project through graphics. You should be able to explain your poster from start to finish in ten to fifteen minutes.
Sample Research Posters
- From the University of Texas at Austin
- From North Carolina State University
- From Colorado State University, click on Example Poster Sessions
- Click here for a poster design resource with templates
Determining the Contents of Your Poster
Before you design your poster, determine what you want to include in your poster. What are the main points of your research project? How do you convey these points to audience members who may each only have a few minutes to look at your poster?
Be careful of using too much text. You don’t want to paste entire sections of a research paper onto a poster; this will overwhelm viewers. Also, your audience should be able to read your poster from about 4-5 feet away, and once you enlarge the font size, you don’t have much space!
Identify the information you really want viewers to know, and then determine how you might present this information graphically or with short texts blocks (especially bulleted or numbered text blocks). Remember that you want to catch and keep your audience’s attention!
Your poster should always include:
Title: Your title should be brief but descriptive. It should be the same title as provided on your abstract. Be sure the title is readable at a distance of 4-5 feet away. Suggested font size is 72 point or larger.
Author(s) and Institution: The first name should be the name of the poster presenter; after this, the authors are listed in the order of contribution to the work. If it is appropriate to your discipline to list your faculty mentor as an author, you should list your faculty mentor as the last author. Below the author(s), include the department that houses your work and the university name.
Abstract: Your abstract should be identical to that which you submitted for the conference.
Introduction or Background: Present any introduction, background, or context necessary for the reader to understand your poster. Start with a general introduction to the field, and indicate the relevance of your work.
Hypothesis, Argument/Thesis, or Research Question(s): Clearly state your hypothesis, argument/thesis, or research question(s) based on the background information that you provided. Include a model or diagram if it is helpful.
Methodology or Approach: State briefly your methodology for answering your hypothesis/research question(s) (e.g. experimental methods) or your approach to crafting your argument/thesis (e.g. theoretical, disciplinary, etc. approach). You do not need to go into great detail here; it is often better to include details in figures or graphics.
Figures or Graphics: Here you present the data or components of your project in visual form. The figures or graphics should help to explain your hypothesis/argument, your methodology/approach, and/or your results/conclusions. You might include graphs, tables, lists, photographs, illustrations, diagrams, or other relevant graphics. Typically, each of your figures or graphics will have a title. (The title is often the conclusion of the figure or graphic.) If it is appropriate, you should also include a legend for each figure or graphic. The legend might explain abbreviations, color keys, scale, methods, figure details, etc.
Results, Discussion, and/or Conclusions: Here you state the results and conclusions of your project. Be brief and to the point. You should also indicate the significance of your project: what knowledge has your project added to your field? If it is appropriate, mention any alternative explanations for your results and possible explanations for unexpected results.
Future directions: If it is appropriate, state what you plan to do next on your project. Do your conclusions lead you to new questions? Are you considering new methods to answer your original questions?
Acknowledgments: If your research is funded by a scholarship program, you must acknowledge the program. It is also recommended that you acknowledge those who contributed to your research and/or those who mentored or assisted you with your research.
References: List all sources that you cite in the various sections of your poster. You should list your sources using the citation format appropriate to your discipline and project (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).
Designing Your Poster
At Undergraduate Research Week, you will have an easel and a 48 inch by 48 inch piece of foam core on which to display your poster. Clips and pushpins will be provided to attach your poster to the foam core. You can create your poster in one of three ways:
- Use PowerPoint or another applicable program to create a poster that can be printed out on a single large sheet of paper. (For instructions on creating a PowerPoint poster, see the “Creating a Poster Using PowerPoint” link below.) Poster printing locations and rates are listed above. Your poster may be any size up to 48” by 48”, but many posters are smaller. A standard size is 36” wide by 48” high (3 feet by 4 feet). If you are interested in having your poster printed, be sure to ask your faculty mentor or scholarship program if poster printing funds are available.
- Print the various sections of your poster on standard printer paper, using one or more sheets of paper for each section. Then attach each section directly to the foam core, using the push pins that will be provided. The foam core, which is white, then becomes the background for your poster. (Be sure to use enough color in your sections--otherwise your entire poster will be white!) Because the foam core is 48” by 48”, you will have room for at least 4 columns and/or rows if you use 8.5” by 11” paper. (Your poster may also be smaller than this; 36” by 48” is a standard size.) Be sure to arrange and measure your poster layout before the day you present.
- Follow the steps of option #2 (printing the poster sections on standard printer paper) but provide the poster background as well and pre-assemble all of the elements on the poster. You will then simply clip your completed poster to the foam core when you arrive for your poster presentation. Be sure to bring a flat poster; your poster should NOT be a tri-fold that stands on its own.
General poster design tips:
- Above all, your poster should be easily readable from at least 4-5 feet away. Suggested font sizes are at least 72 point for your title, 48 point for your headings, and around 36 point for your text. Do not use script fonts that are difficult to read.
- Use color. You want your poster to catch your audience’s attention while looking streamlined and professional. You might use color on graphics, headings, text blocks, borders around text, etc. Posters elements (text and graphics) are often laid out into 3-4 columns.
- Posters are typically read from top to bottom then left to right.
Click here, (Adobe PDF document) for instructions on creating a poster using PowerPoint. You can then have your poster printed on a single large sheet of paper. See the Poster Printing link above for printing locations and rates.