Research Poster Design

Please watch our research poster instructional video: 

Designing Research Posters: Basic Design Tips (53:16)

If you need further assistance with your poster, contact Holly Mills.

  • Get the Template

    The standard size for a research poster is 36” x 48”.  There are text boxes and pictures on the PowerPoint poster template (linked below), but everything is customizable.  The text includes tips for editing the content, so be sure to read it before deleting!

    36" x 48" (landscape)

    You can create your own slide (without the template) by customizing the slide size to 36" high by  48" wide, then inserting text boxes for titles, headings, and content.

    The template was developed by Mike Renfro in the Center for Manufacturing Research.

  • Create & Edit Text

    The template you downloaded already has text boxes in it.  To put in your own text you can do any of the following:

    • Type over the existing text in the template
    • Copy and paste an existing text box
    • Draw a new text box

    For additional instructions on text boxes in PowerPoint, visit their online help section.

    Make sure your text can be read by most people at a distance of three feet.  Balance the text with some graphics/images and appropriate spacing and proximity.

  • Images

    When considering images, photos, or graphics, as if they are absolutely necessary to help share the information?  If yes, use them, but still keep in mind the amount, size, and placement.  Too many images could be confusing or take up too much space; too few images could lead to too much text and not enough visual interest.  To use your own images:

    • Delete the existing images from the template
    • Add your own images by using "Insert" (not copy/paste)
    • Resize if necessary
    • Try to use vector formats instead of jpg, bmp, etc.
    • Use high-resolution images
    • If you need a TN Tech logo, the types and colors of available logos are online at  
    • Images should have captions or be labeled by adding a text box


    For instructions on inserting Excel spreadsheets and graphs, visit Microsoft’s online help section.

  • Design

    What readers notice first

    1. Images and captions
    2. Headings and subheadings
    3. Text under headings and subheadings

    The last thing viewers notice - the text - is often the bulk of your work!  Make sure they read your poster by balancing images with text and giving a clear flow of information for their eye and mind to follow.

    Consistent look and feel
    Consistency makes your information more appealing and less distracting.  Choose only a few colors that complement each other and only one or two font choices with small variations (bold, italic, underline).  Be sure to use the same variations for all the headings, subheadings, captions, etc.

    Items that are scattered haphazardly confuse readers and make your poster look messy.  Use the grids and alignment tools in PowerPoint to help keep the design clean and organized.

    You don’t want your poster elements so crowded that it's hard to read, and you don’t want things spaced so far apart they don’t look connected.  Maintain a good balance of items and blank space.

  • Proofread & Edit

    Proofreading is crucial in everything you produce.  If you present posters with errors, it suggests you don't care about your work.  ALWAYS proofread everything more than once to catch errors.

    • Use spellcheck
    • Read it carefully after you use spellcheck
    • Read the text out loud to find mistakes easier
    • Check for consistent formatting (titles are formatted the same, all bullets align, etc.)
    • Have others look it over
    • Stop looking at it and recheck it later to review it with fresh eyes


    You may only get one chance to print, so you want it absolutely correct before you print.

  • Printing

    Students have multiple options for printing research posters:

    • Some departments have a poster printer.  Check with your departmental office to find out if you can print your poster there or if they will pay for your poster to be printed elsewhere.
    • If your departmental office does not have a poster printer, you may:
      • Use Printing Services on campus; they will print posters up to 36" tall for a cost based on size, color and paper choice.
      • Check with off-campus companies like Office Max, Staples, etc.

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