Poster and Creative Exhibit Guidelines and Templates

Poster and Creative Exhibit Guidelines and Templates

A poster or creative exhibit is a visual representation of the work that you have accomplished; it should “tell the story” of the work you have done.

This page provides general tips and some requirements specific to the UNL Spring Research Fair but you should follow any discipline-specific guidelines when developing your poster or creative exhibit. Talk to your advisor or mentor about the norms for developing a poster or creative exhibit in your discipline.

Composing your poster

Size and layout

The maximum poster size for the UNL Research Fair is 40 inches by 48 inches.

Draw a rough sketch of your poster first. Use index cards, or use graph paper and cut-up sticky notes, to visualize where the components of your poster will go.

Space information proportionally. Divide your poster horizontally or vertically into three or four sections. Using one of these templates is strongly encouraged:

Background color is up to you; however, lighter colors (pastels, greys) typically provide the best contrast for text, graphic, and photographic elements. Use a light background with darker photos or a dark background with lighter photos.

Aim for 20% text, 40% graphics, and 40% empty space. Look critically at your layout. Cluttered posters are difficult to read. Your poster should stimulate discussion, not give a long presentation. When in doubt, edit.


Use text sparingly. Your poster’s purpose is to tell a story but the poster is primarily a visual representation.

  • Cover the essentials:
    1. Problem description and challenges
    2. Approach/method
    3. Results and evaluation
    4. Conclusion
  • Use active voice. It can be demonstrated becomes The data demonstrate.
  • Be consistent. Choose one font and use it throughout. Add emphasis by using boldface, underlining, or color; italics are difficult to read.

Recommended font sizes if using Helvetica:

  • Title: 40 pt or larger. Put it across the top and make it informative.
  • Section headings (Introduction, Methods, etc.): 36 pt bold.
  • Supporting text (intro text, figure captions, etc.): 24 pt, bold where appropriate.
    • Narrative details should be brief, in plain text, and no smaller than 18 pt.
    • Consider a larger size (36 pt) for Conclusion text, and a smaller size (18 pt) for Methods text.

Producing your poster

Remember to proofread–before you assemble or print a traditional poster, or before you upload or present an e-poster!

Printed posters

The Pixel Lab in Henzlik Hall provides printing and laminating services at affordable rates.

  • Save your poster as a PDF and name the file with your last (family) name.
  • Come prepared with payment information: the Pixel Lab accepts cash, credit card, check, or a department cost object.
For the 2017 Spring Research Fair:

  • Maximum poster size is 40 inches by 48 inches.
  • Posters should not be mounted on poster board or foam core.
  • If using the Pixel Lab: Posters must be submitted to the Pixel Lab by March 24 to guarantee that they will be ready in time for this event. We encourage you to submit your poster as soon as it is ready.


e-Posters are intended to provide a display of information that is not possible with a traditional printed poster. Embedding multimedia content—along with static elements such as titles, logos, and summaries—can be a good way to convey information. Examples of dynamic visual elements include videos, slide shows, animated charts or graphs, scrolling text, or 3D rotation of a model.

  • e-Posters must be in PPT, PPTX, or OPD format.
  • Use standard multimedia formats within your e-poster.
    • Images: Use high-resolution images in TIFF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, or GIF formats.
    • Video: Use Microsoft (ASF, WMV), QuickTime, MPEG-4, or DivX Version 5 (or later) formats. The total length of all videos should not exceed three minutes.
For the 2017 Spring Research Fair:

For the graduate student event only, a limited number of screens will be available for electronic posters. To be considered for an e-poster slot, mark your registration form accordingly. By Tuesday, March 14, we’ll let you know whether your poster has been selected for display as an e-poster.

Creative exhibits and other display methods

For some projects or in some fields, traditional posters are not the most effective way to present your research or creative work.

If you choose this option on your registration form, you’ll also need to describe briefly what you have in mind and how your research is well-suited to your proposed presentation method. We will contact you further regarding your proposed display.

For the 2017 Spring Research Fair:

On your registration form, under Display Type select “Creative Exhibit” (for undergraduates) or “Other Display Type” (for graduate students) and provide a description.