University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus

Research Posters: Toolkit

Font Size and Style

We suggest you use black text against a light background so that your poster is easy to read, but you can use any high-contrast color combination. Background color can be adjusted in the templates by selecting Format-Background. 

For text size, use the folowing guide: 

Title: 85pt minimum, closer to 125pt is ideal

Headers: 36pt minimum, closer to 44+pt

Body Text: 24pt minimum, closer to 34+pt

Do not vary the types and typefaces of fonts excessively on the poster. Select approximately 2 fonts to use consistently throughout your poster. 







Use a serif font for body text and a non-serif font for title and headings. You want your main heading to be able to be read from a distance of approximately 4-6 feet away, so ensure that the size and font type maximize readability. 

This is a serif font.

This is is a sans serif font.

Occasionally, font style can correlate with your research topic. For example, if your topic relates to newspapers or the media, you could use a newspaper-style font. Use your best judgment when choosing a font for your poster. 

Fonts and Paragraphs Styles

If you have large blocks of texts on your poster, considering dividing them into smaller paragraphs/sections. Large blocks of texts are more difficult to read than smaller sections. 

Use bold type in order to draw attention to important keywords in your research. 

Fonts and Spacing

Well-designed posters make good use of limited space, and a good poster designer knows when to leave blank space.

Align your paragraphs consistently throughout your poster. Headings, paragraphs, figures, images, etc. should be aligned whenever possible in order to create a seamless visual transition from one portion of your poster to another. The majority of your text should be left aligned, with images and figures centered. However, there may be some exceptions. 

When determining whether or not to center or left align a heading, paragraph, or other block of text, consider the length:

If a section of text is longer than 2 lines, don't center it. Centering it forces your readers' eyes to do more work. 

Be sure to include some blank space on your poster, such as between paragraphs and figures/images, in order to avoid overcrowding. If your poster does not contain any blank space, consider adding a QR code in order to remove some of the content and free up your poster space. 


Images or photographs are an easy way to attract attention to your research poster and to enhance the overall design. Always select images that directly relate to your research topic. Images should not distract your audience from your research, but rather make the experience of looking at the research more pleasant. Select images that coordinate well with your chosen design. Images should be of high quality and resolution. 

Pictures or graphics should a resolution of at least 150 dots per inch (dpi) to 300 dpi. If a graphic has less than 150 dpi, it may look fine on your computer monitor, but when it is printed full size on the poster, it may look "blocky" or "fuzzy".


Crop and enlarge photographs if necessary to maximize your use of space on your research poster. Add a simple border to images if they are at risk of "bleeding" into the background. 

For information and guidelines regarding the USF branding and logo usage, click here

Always cite where you got your image from. Only use an image (illustration, photograph, etc.) that is fully public domain.

To locate images, use the Finding Images Research Guide. Here you can find images collections and databases as well as Creative Commons Images Sites and Open Access Sites. These images are free to use and provide a wide variety of image options that can greatly enhance the design of your research poster. 


Color Palette: 

Selecting a color palate for your poster can be a fun task! Choose a simple color theme of approximately 3 colors- more might overload and confuse your audience. If you do want to use multiple colors, consider doing so on a spectrum with alternating darkness and lightness of one single color.

Consider what colors will best complement your research. For instance, topics relating to marine science will want to use blues, grays, and greens. Be aware of the cultural implications of your color scheme- consider what cultural associations are already assigned to colors, such as red implying romance or danger. 

Color can be used in order to create visual contrast on your poster. Consult the color wheel when selecting colors to use in order to create contrast, as colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel will have the highest contrast. 

When choosing background and font colors for your research poster, ensure that the legibility is high. A safe bet is to use light colored font on a dark background or dark colored font on a light background. Be aware that the colors may be altered during printing. Be sure to preview your poster. 

For the Color Blind

  • Don't give color meaning.  For example don't emphasize a word or a result as color blind individuals will not be able to see the emphasis.  Instead emphasize your results with text in Bold or in Italics
  • Use a high contrast colors between the text and the background so that it is easy to read. To check legibility, use:  Color Contrast Checker: 

Suggested Color Palettes Generators: 

  1. (This generator allows you to create a palate based on a chosen image)

Color Palate Inspiration:




The majority of audience members 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 use of images, figures, icons, headings, and any other means of breaking up the text of your research poster. That being said, you do not want the layout of your poster to feel cluttered. Approximately 40% of your poster should be "blank space" that is free of text, figures, and images. 

Using Icons

Adding a simple icon or logo to your research poster can reinforce your finding and make your poster more memorable. Choose an icon that relates specifically to your research topic in order to ensure that your audience can interpret your topic at-a-glance. 

Icons from are free to use.