You have sweated over your poster design for a week and pained yourself over the finest of details making sure that you dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. Come the big day, you proudly place the poster on the wall and the examiners come over to look at your poster.  How long will they look at your poster for?

2 minutes surely! It took a whole week to design… 1 minute maybe… Actually even less how about 30 seconds.

In my first year of dental school I used to fill my poster with tiny 10pt writing thinking that the more detail I had on the poster the better. I now realise that the secret to great poster design is minimalism: Big pictures, lots of white space and big writing. Here are 5 tips to designing a killer poster that will wow the examiners and get you the top prize.

1) Simple Layout

The simpler the layout the better. Imagine your poster as a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. In the west we read from left to right so the beginning of the poster should be top left and the end bottom right. I really like a newspaper style three column poster layout. Case presentation poster 2) Colour scheme

I always ensure that the colours scheme is harmonious and does not clash with one another a classic example is red and pink. I would recommend using Adobe Kuler to find out a colour scheme that really works my favourites are Monochromatic and Triad.

3) Fonts and Font sizes

The most important thing for fonts is that they should be readable. Windings font used to be great fun in my IT classes hiding messages from teachers but is it not for the examiner reading your poster. As a general rule no more than 3 font types in one poster. I use serif fonts such as Times New Roman and Palatino  for the body of the text as they are very easy to read. Sans serif fonts such as Arial and Helvetica are used for headings and sub headings because they are clear and concise. Font sizes that I would recommend are as follows:

Main Title72 pt
Author48 pt
Sub headings30 pt
Body25 pt

25 pt may seem large however posters should ideally  be legible from 5 feet. Minimum  body size would be 20 pt.

4) Text

Text just like humans need their own personal space. As a general rule 20% text, 40% figures and 40% space. AVOID UPPER CASE WRITING AT ALL COSTS AS IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO READ. You really want to ensure that the text in your poster is fully justified so that the text spans all the way from left to right.

5) To mount or not to mount?


I was sitting down and having a chat with the guys in copytech (A print service who I thoroughly recommend if you are in London) who were saying that only dentists mount their posters on foam board because  you make no friends when carrying it on public transport. I think it is worth it as it makes the poster much more special and it avoids any risks of the paper getting creased.

Bonus tip: Kinaesthetic 

People learn in 3 different ways: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic (See my post on the Secret of Successful Dental Communication). Kinaesthetic people learn through touch and feel. Having a photo that flips out or can be taken out of your poster would really add the wow factor.

Remember your poster has only 30 seconds to impress. A clear and simple design with a beautiful colour scheme will allow the examiners to grasp the message of your poster and show off the quality of your work. Best of luck, let me know how it goes!