Poster Preparation Guidelines

Preparatory Considerations

Before creating your poster, ask:

  • What is the main function of my poster? Who is my audience?
  • What is the primary thing I want my audience to understand?
  • What solution does my research provide?
  • How do I express my expertise simply so I don’t overwhelm non-experts?

While creating your poster, aim to:

  • Engage attendees in conversation.
  • Express your research in layman’s terms.
  • Focus on simple, memorable messages; include only essential details.
  • Leave out points that distract from your central message.
  • Emphasize “why” over “how.”
  • Less is more. Avoid jargon and extensive technical description.

Poster Content and Design

Your RISE poster is divided into the following content areas. We suggest a quadrant format.

  • Opportunity – Write your abstract, introduction, background, goal, etc. here.
  • Approach – Describe your method here.
  • Data/Results – Include images, figures, tables, etc.
  • Impact – State your value proposition and elaborate on your MyRISE impact statement.
  • References and Acknowledgements (Optional)

When designing your poster, remember:

  • This is a template. Some features may be changed, while others are fixed.
  • The fixed features that should not be changed are:
    • RISE and Northeastern logos
    • Abstract ID, Category and Undergraduate/Graduate headings
    • Content Area topics and order (Opportunity, Approach, Data/Results/Impact)
  • The modifiable features are:
    • We suggest a quadrant format
    • Quadrant lines
    • Size of text boxes, font style/size of headings, titles, text, etc.
    • Alignment of headings and text
    • Inclusion of graphics and images
  • Within these limits, freely employ design strategies that will capture the attention of RISE attendees and express the value of your research.
  • Please delete instructional box once you have completed your poster layout.
  • All posters must be submitted as a PDF through MyRISE.

Judging Criteria

Your RISE poster will be judged by the following criteria:

  • Originality – Is the research topic fresh and new? Does it offer a new perspective on existing research? Is the research compelling and interesting?
  • Significance/Impact of Research – Does the research present a compelling model for advancing social, civic, and/or environmental equity?
  • Quality/Substance of Poster – Is the poster clear and concise? Does it convey the essence of the research? Is it visually appealing?
  • Overall Presentation – Does the presenter demonstrate command of the research? Is the topic effectively communicated to a lay audience? Does the presenter understand his/her own work? (Based on day of pitch and presentation)

Snell Library Resources

Northeastern University Libraries have a number of resources available to help RISE presenters at many stages of the research process.

Resources include:

  • Full range of subject specialists. View a full list of subject librarians here.
  • GIS and Data Visualization Subject Guide for assistance with displaying your data graphically.
  • Training seminars for finding relevant sources and data. View event calendar and register here.
    • Tuesday, January 15, 2:00PM – 3:00PM. Snell Library, Room 422.
    • Thursday, January 31, 10:00AM – 11:00AM. Online via Bluejeans.
    • Wednesday, February 6, 12:00PM – 1:00PM. Snell Library, Room 422.
    • Wednesday, February 13, 12:00PM – 1:00PM. Online via Bluejeans.
  • Walk-in office hours, open to students, faculty, and staff, and located at Snell Library, Room 243.
    • Data Visualization – Wednesdays, 10:00AM – 12:00PM.
    • GIS – Thursdays, 1:00PM – 3:00PM.


Can’t make seminars or office hours? Email to schedule an appointment. Contact Snell!

  • Steven Braun, Data Analytics and Visualization Specialist, for further assistance.
  • Bahare Sanaie-Movahed, GIS Specialist, for further assistance with GIS, spatial analysis, or digital mapping.

Tips and Tools

Tips for Creating an Award Winning Poster

  • Use quadrants to organize your content.
  • Use headings and sub-headings to convey your message.
  • Highlight headings by italicizing, bolding, or using larger type.
  • Keep text segments to 50 words or fewer, use phrases over sentences.
  • Use dark colors against the light background – the opposite causes eye strain.
  • Use at least one image – a photo, graph, or illustration.
  • Keep graphics simple, clean, and, preferably, two-dimensional.
  • If using color images, make sure they don’t clash with the rest of the poster.
  • Balance the placement of text with blank space.
  • Consider the laws of symmetry when choosing how to organize text and images.
  • This will ensure your poster is readable and visually pleasing.

Tools for Creating an Award Winning Poster

Final Considerations

When revising your poster, ask:

  • If I encountered this poster, would I stop?
  • Is the poster layout visually interesting?
  • Are the important points labeled? (e.g., “Opportunity,” “Impact”)
  • Are the title and headings readable from a distance?
  • Is the text easy to read in terms of font and color?
  • Are my graphics relevant? Do they complement the text?
  • Is there balance between text, image, and blank space?
  • Would a non-expert be able to understand the content?