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The Basic Format of a Poster
Posters have the same basic components as a manuscript (i.e. introduction, methods, results, conclusions, references, acknowledgements). They don't need to have an abstract because the whole poster can be though of as a visual abstract. It's a summary of your project that uses a combination of text and graphics. Not including an abstract will free up space that can be used for other content.
There is not one correct way to organize a poster but typically the sections are chunked and the poster is organized in columns. Below is a common format. The results will be the major component and there are typically 1 to 5 results sections depending on the project.
The benefit of this format is that it has logical flow. Posters are often read in the following direction.
Content: the Title
- 1-2 lines that describes the problem being studied
- Mention the organism/model system being studied in the title
- Mention the technique if its important to the study
- Commonly only first word is capitalized
Content: the Introduction or Background
- One or two short paragraphs or bulleted points
- States the research question and why it is important
- The objectives of your research or the hypotheses being tested
- Mentions model system being used
- Cites related studies (2-3 references that would be listed in the References section)
Content: the Methods and Materials
- Briefly describe the experimental methods and materials used
- Only write about methods that were used to get the results
- Use schematics when possible to go along with brief amounts of text
Content: the Results
- This is the heart of the poster and usually gets the most space
- Choose your key results and organize each as a separate box or piece of paper
- Give each box a descriptive title of the main finding, not just “Results”, so that the reader is immediately primed for the information you are trying to convey
- Make sure all graphs, tables, charts etc. are well-labeled
- Use graphics as much as possible with just enough text that a person can understand it – make every word count!
Content: the conclusions
- Just a few bullet points describing major conclusions and future directions
- If the conclusions can be well represented by a schematic, you can include one along with your bullet points