Making Research Posters

November 14, 2009

This year we had the opportunity to re-think how the ALISE Doctoral Poster Competition will be setup in Boston.  In previous years, the competition used easels that limited the poster size to only 20″ x 30.”  When I attended last year this meant that I was left with a giant piece of foam core that I couldn’t take on the plane with me — and into the trash it went.  (and maybe it’s the archivist inside me, but I do like saving the posters I give even if I’m not using them again!)

This year we worked with the ALISE conference staff and Works In Progress poster competition to arrange for large cork-board walls for the posters.  This means that you won’t have to mount your poster on a piece of foam core (+1 for the environment).   It also means that we could allow posters up to 42″ x 36″ which is a standard size of “scientific” posters.  We’ve had a few questions about the change, so I thought I’d post some helpful links about how to make a larger sized poster for this year’s competition.

ALISE DocSIG Discount at

We’re happy to announce that we’re working with, a Boston area company that prints posters, to offer a DocSIG discount on their already competitive rates for poster production.  If you had a poster accepted to the Competition, watch your inbox for an e-mail with more details.


If you haven’t made a poster like this before, one place to start is your university’s writing center.  They often have helpful suggestions, and may include links to templates that already feature your university’s logos and graphics.  Here are a few links to some that I’ve found useful:


  • PowerPoint
    This is one of the easiest ways, since many people are already familiar with using it.  There are also lots of poster template available.   See  How-to Prepare Your Poster from the folks at PhDPosters.   You might also be able to get a template from your university or local faculty.  Jerry Overmyer at the University of Northern Colorado has created this nice step-by-step tutorial on using their PowerPoint template.
  • Illustrator/Inkscape
    If you’d like a little more control over the layout of your poster,  you can also user graphic design tools such as Adobe Illustrator.   If you’re a student on a budget and you can’t get access to it, Inkscape is a free, open-source editor.  The nice thing about these tools, is that you can also use Creative Commons licensed clip art from the Open Clipart site.
  • Photoshop/GIMP
    You can also use a image editing software like Photoshop or GIMP to make your poster.

Like most things in our interdisciplinary world, there are LOTS of ways to do this.  Have a few of your own?  Share them in the comments!

Don’t forget:  Revised Abstracts & Posters are due to Lauren by NOVEMBER 30, 2009.