All UCLA undergraduate students engaged in research and creative projects are encouraged 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.
Attend poster workshops to help you learn how to create a poster for Undergraduate Research Week and other conferences! No RSVP necessary.
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. 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
See the posters on the left for examples of UCLA research posters! In addition, see the following poster examples:
Determining the Contents of Your Poster
Identify the main points of your research project, and then determine how you might present this information graphically or with short texts blocks. See below for sample poster design templates.
Be careful of using too much text; your audience members may only have a few minutes to look at your poster. 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!
- 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 (UCLA).
The other sections of your poster may vary by discipline. Posters often include the following elements:
- 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.
- 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. You might include graphs, tables, lists, photographs, illustrations, diagrams, or other relevant graphics. Typically, each of your figures or graphics will have a title. If it is appropriate, you should also include a legend for each figure or graphic.
- Results, Discussion, and/or Conclusions: Here you state the results and conclusions of your project. 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 a poster board on which to display your poster, and posters can be a maximum of 42" wide. Clips and pushpins will be provided to attach your poster to the board. You can create and print your poster in one of two ways:
- Print as one sheet: Use PowerPoint or another program to create a poster that can be printed out on a single large sheet of paper. Poster printing locations and rates are below; be sure to ask your faculty mentor or scholarship program if poster printing funds are available. See also the creating a poster using PowerPoint instructions.
- Print sections: Print the sections of your poster yourself on standard printer paper (8.5" by 11") then attach each section directly to the poster board. Arrange the sections into columns and rows to form your poster.
Please see the following Undergraduate Research Week sample poster formats:
General poster design tips:
- 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 are typically read from top to bottom then left to right.
For students wishing to have their posters printed, please click here for campus printing locations and rates.