How to Put Together a Great Poster for a Medical Conference

These are our to top tips on "How to Put Together a Great Poster for a Medical Conference"

Wentin Chen (@WentinChen), Chloe Chia (@ChloeChiaW), Aysha Zahid (@Ayshaizahid), Aqua Asif (@AquaOishee), Jameela Sheikh (@medstudentjam), Ed Whittaker (@EdWhittaker2), Setthasorn Ooi (@SetthasornOoi), Phil McElnay (@phil_mce)

Quick Tips

  • Less is more!
  • Don’t use too many stock cartoons or images
  • Make sure it's readable at a distance
  • Structure it similar to your abstract- make it methodical
  • Stick to a colour palette which complements your text colour
  • A poster should be a standalone piece of work
    Does your poster answer this question: What is the most important/interesting finding from my research project?

Different platforms to use

  • Word - offers good templates
  • Publisher
  • PowerPoint - SmartArt to create infographics: Largely the standard recommendation from conferences to use
  • Canva - free or premium
  • Adobe Illustrator - more complex and expensive
  • Inkscape - alternative to Adobe


  • Before you even start, plan on a draft piece of paper - brainstorm your topic and organise ideas into sections, use Post-It notes to organise layout

Your abstract is a great starting point as your main points will be highlighted here

  • Include acknowledgements, authors’ names (everyone who has contributed) and institution affiliations
  • Sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, References
  • Choose your content carefully - remember to include the best and most interesting parts of your research for people to read! Don’t try to include everything.

Make sure each line of text and image you add is relevant to your audience and necessary to include.

  • Title should be short, meaningful and draw interest
  • Ensure that poster size and layout is according to what the conference organisers have stipulated

Landscape is the default but portrait layout can be effective.

  • Less text, more infographics and images!

Using infographics that relate to the points you’re trying to make can make your poster more engaging to read

Images are good! Use good-quality images, avoid clipart or cartoons. Try to choose images which convey the most meaning in one picture.

Avoid complex graphs or charts
*Include references (limit to 3-5)

Potentially use a QR code if references do not fit on the poster

  • Make sure to use the official logos of the organisation associated with authors/projects - these can be found on their website.

Universities have specific image files you can download.

  • Potential to use QR code to link further discussion e.g. short (2 minute) audio clip introducing the poster, or can be used to link extra resources
  • Don’t forget to include ‘Acknowledgements’ to mention people that supported you with the project but are not classified as ‘co-authors’


  • Word count: 300-800 words
  • Most important information should be readable 3 metres away!
  • Use clear title and headings

For titles and headings/subheadings, it’s a good idea to use a larger font size than the rest of the text and perhaps underline/bold the font to make it stand out.

You can use boxes behind headings to help the reader quickly and easily identify different sections on your poster.

  • Ensure the font size is appropriate and able to be read clearly.
  • Text should be clear, brief and concise
  • Choose a font that is easy to read, we’re shifting towards sans serif.


  • Sans serif: Arial, Helvetica
  • Serif: Time New Roman
  • Limit to only a couple of font styles for consistency

If possible, use the same font but alter between bold/italic if necessary

  • Make use of bullets and numbering to help guide the audience
  • Make sure to use appropriate spacing of text to help reader read clearly and to allow breathability


  • Use a consistent and clean layout with a logical sequence that is easy to follow

It may be easier to begin your poster by drafting your general layout, for example placement of text boxes and images, to help give you structure as you add your content.

  • Adding a background or border is a good way to add colour - consider how this may affect the visibility of any images, graphs and charts

Stick to a plain colour or subtle gradient for your background - avoid images and busy patterns so as not to take away from your content

  • Colours are great but try and stick to 3 or 4 for text and backgrounds - less is more!

Using colours which are already present in your graphs or images can help you create your theme.

  • Avoid using too many different styles and colours.
  • Align columns for the poster so they are equal across the poster, making sure to align text boxes with the appropriate margins
  • Avoid rainbow colours, use simple colours only and limit to 2 or 3 on the whole poster

Have an overall ‘theme’

Aim to use colours that coordinate well and do not clash - useful resource:

Colour theory applies!

  • Don’t place images behind text
  • Don’t make it crowded - space is good!

Adding space around the border of your poster and each different element will draw more attention to it and create a streamlined, professional look.


  • Ensure you use high-quality images and that quality is not reduced through re-sizing. Try and use images with a high resolution to ensure the highest quality.

You should not include any image that you do not have the rights to use or disseminate

Create your own if you do have the time.

  • Label your texts and figures

Make sure your graphs have simple labelled axes

Final Checks

  • PROOFREAD! Always proofread your final copy to ensure there are no spelling errors or other mistakes.

Check for grammatical errors or accidental repetition of words.

Aim to proofread at least twice before submitting your final piece of work.

  • When exporting to PDF, make sure the margins are clear and no text or content has been cut off