The KISS Method to Academic Posters

academic pic4When I was young an academic poster was usually at a science fair or another similar event and consisted of larger poster boards put together with a certain degree of pictures and writing glued onto it.  Apparently, this is still true today, however the posters of today are slightly upgraded given our use of technology, thankfully!

Today, academic posters can still be seen as large posters or can also be viewed on a large monitor.  These posters normally consist of a few basic elements generated at engaging the reader/viewer in 5-8 minutes or less.

Posters need to communicate your research and are compiled of the following basic elements: academic pic2

  • Short title
  • Introduction (approx. 200 words)
  • Materials and Methods; An overview of your approach (approx. 200 words)
  • Results; in graphical form (approx. 200 words)
  • Conclusion; A short discussion of your results (approx. 200 words)
  • Citations; previous published articles important to your research
  • Acknowledgements

Although most people know what they want to communicate sometimes they are not always the best at conveying their research and or topic to people through public speaking.  In these cases and often in most other instances it academic posters are a better way to communicate then through someone standing and speaking to an audience.  Although people can communicate their ideas and research in a 15 minute speech they can easily convey the same information in a “5 minute” academic poster and avoid common speak blunders and a lot of stress.  Academic posters can also be strategically placed in various locations as well. 

Some Do’s and Don’ts:


Use the KISS Method: Keep It Simple Silly

Title should be catchy

Intro should have minimum background info and definitions                   academic template pic

Pitch an interesting hypothesis

Use Pictures or flowcharts, or other visual aids

Briefly describe the procedure used

Briefly describe results and what worked

Remind the reader of the major results

Tell the reader whether your hypothesis was supported

Convince the reader why the outcome is interesting/relevant

Add bits of flair

Cite correctly

Provide your email/information in order for people to ask more questions at a later time

Use high resolution (either when printing or for computer viewing)

Use a template

Should be readable from 6 feet away

Use 60% images and 40% text

DON’Ts:academic pic6

DO NOT use all CAPS

DO NOT do an abstract

DO NOT go into long details

DO NOT cite incorrectly

DO NOT go crazy with colours

DO NOT use more than 3 fonts

DO NOT use too many words


Overall, one of the most important aspects of an academic poster is to WOW the reader/viewer with your visual presentation whether it’s in poster form or viewed over a monitor.  Keep the poster a simple and concise as possible while still effectively getting your message/research across. Use the KISS method: Keep It Simple Silly


Colin Purrington,. (2014). Designing conference posters – Colin Purrington. Retrieved 11 December 2014, from,. (2014). Academic Posters | Faculty of Graduate Studies | University of Calgary. Retrieved 11 December 2014, from



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