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 29 inches by 39 inches, and using one of the templates provided by the Pixel Lab is strongly encouraged.

Draw a rough sketch of your poster first. Space information proportionally. Divide your poster horizontally or vertically into three or four sections. Use index cards, or use graph paper and cut-up sticky notes, to visualize where the components of your poster will go.

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 your 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.
  • Use the online project calculator to estimate your cost, and come prepared with payment information: the Pixel Lab accepts cash, credit card, check, or a department cost object.
For the 2019 Spring Research Fair:

  • Maximum poster size is 29 inches by 39 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 April 5 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.

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. Presenters will be given space roughly the size of a 6-8′ table. We will contact you further regarding your proposed display to determine your needs.