Industrial Engineering Southern Africa Conference South Africa North West University

FAQ 9 - Which guidelines should I use to prepare my poster.


  • A0
  • Portrait orientation
  • Laminated
  • Top left: Logo of institution
  • Top centre: title of abstract with all authors and name of institution underneath
  • Please Note: The poster should be easy to read from a distance of 1.5 meters.


The purpose of scientific posters is to present work to an audience who is walking through a hallway or exhibit. In poster presentations at conferences, the presenter usually stands next to the poster, thus allowing for passers-by to engage in one-on-one discussions with the presenter. For a poster to communicate the work, the poster first has to orient an audience that is not seated, but that is standing. Often the audience has distractions of noise and movement from other people. Given those distractions, a journal article tacked onto a board fails as an effective poster because the audience cannot concentrate for a time long enough to read through the paper. In fact, given the distractions that the audience faces, many in the audience will not even bother trying to read a journal article tacked onto a board.

So what then makes for an effective poster?

1. The title of an effective poster should quickly orient the audience. Here are some guidelines for poster titles:

  • Make the title the most prominent block of text on the poster (centre - justify at the top, approx. 110 font size).
  • Do not typeset the title in all capital letters (such text is difficult to read).
  • Use small words such as 'of', 'from', 'with', 'to', 'the', 'a', 'an', and 'and' to separate details in the title.


While phrase titles are most common, some scientists and engineers effectively use sentence titles for posters that present one main result. In such titles, state the result in the title and capitalise the words as you would in a sentence. Because the sentence title is a stand-alone, as opposed to being part of a paragraph, the period is generally dropped.


2. The poster should quickly orient the audience to the subject and purpose. One good test is whether the audience recognises the subject and purpose within 20 seconds of seeing the poster. Usually, a poster accomplishes this goal with a well-crafted title and with supporting images. Also, make sure that the type is large enough to be read and that enough contrast exists between the colour of the type and poster's background.


3. Specific sections, such as the results should be easy to locate on the poster. Once readers recognise what the work is, they decide how much energy to invest into the poster. For instance, many will read only the motivation for the work, the objectives (or goals) of the work, and then the final results. Others, who have a deep interest in the topic, will try to read the poster from beginning to end.


4. You should design the individual sections of a poster so that they can be quickly read. Given the distractions that occur while reading posters in a symposium; the poster should not contain large blocks of text. Neither should the poster contain long sentences. If possible, the sections should rely on images: photographs, drawings, and graphs.


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