University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus

Research Posters: Toolkit


Selecting a Layout

Once you have gathered the content of your project, you can decide how to organize the content on your poster. Choose the structure that best showcases the significant findings of your research. 

In many academic disciplines, particularly the sciences, research projects are often organized according to the IMRAD format:

  • Introduction/Background
  • Methods
  • Results AND
  • Discussion/Conclusion

If your research uses a historical or an experimental approach, consider alternate layouts such as timelines, Q&As, or any other narrative format that correlates well with your research.

Template Options

Each of these templates are highly customizable. Please feel free to make adjustments to the color schemes and fonts and to add photographs, icons, illustrations, charts, and other design elements. We strongly encourage you to make your poster stand out!




The 4-column poster template is widely used for research posters and works well for the IMRAD format. Information is read from top to bottom, left to right. 





The Alternative Poster Template has a minimalist design, so consult with your instructor before opting to use this template. Information on this template is read a little differently; audience members will first be drawn to the large heading in the center, then read the information in the left column, and then look at the images and figures in the right column. Because this template is a minimalist design, you may want to use a QR code to link to a web site with additional details that don't fit on the poster itself.

Best Practices

Research posters are designed to provide the significant highlights of a research project in a visual, eye-catching way. Here are some best practices to guide you:

  • Catchy title
  • Clear statement of purpose
  • Readable design: Horizontal layouts usually include 3-5 columns with balanced combination of text and graphics
  • Be brief: 500 – 1,000 words, comprised of short paragraphs and bulleted lists
  • Figures/Tables should have a clear purpose and be clearly labelled
  • Major findings/results should be the focus
  • Bibliography should be selective, usually 3 – 5 citations

Additional Considerations

Most people naturally read Four-Column posters from left to right, top to bottom. If your poster layout deviates from this, you will need to make the organization clear to your audience through the use of arrows or other icons to show how the audience should read the information. 

The layout of any poster can be improved with the intentional use of images, figures, icons, headings, and any other means of breaking up the text of your research poster. That being said, approximately 40% of your poster should be "blank space" that is free of text, figures, and images.