Posters at the Undergraduate Research & Arts Expo

Presenting a poster allows you to connect directly with your audience and have individual conversations about your research with a wide range of people. During the poster session, the presenter stands next to their poster but the audience is free to move around the room, stopping to look at posters and engage in conversation with presenters as they wish.

For student presenters, the advantage of giving a poster over an oral presentation is that you engage in a one-on-one dialogue with audience members who are interested in your research, rather than talking at a large number of people from a distance. The poster should make sense on its own, but more importantly, it serves as a means to a conversation!

If your poster is accepted for the Expo you will attend a workshop in May where we will teach you how to design a poster and poster-presentation for any discipline and how to prepare for one-on-one conversations. No matter whether you are in the humanities, the social sciences, or the natural sciences: posters are a great way to share and get feedback on your research.


The Basics

  • The 2019 Expo will be held on May 29, 2019. Applications for poster presenters will be open in March 2019; poster submissions will be accepted through April 28, 2019.
  • There are two poster sessions during the Expo: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You will present at one session only. You can indicate on your application whether you prefer morning or afternoon, but your final assignment will be based on where your poster best fits into the overall Expo schedule.
  • During the session you will stand next to your poster so that you can discuss your work with audience members and answer questions. You will be expected to have prepared a brief (roughly 3 minute) presentation to give to visitor
  • People from all backgrounds and fields visit students' posters, so they should be written with an an educated but non-expert audience in mind. 
  • Group presentations are welcome.
  • The Office of Undergrad Research (OUR) will hold workshops in Spring Quarter for all Expo presenters. During the workshop, you will test-drive your poster-presentation and receive personalized feedback from your peers and the OUR staff.


Help Before you apply



  • Each poster will be visited and scored by two faculty judges. The judges will assign scores based on the quality of the poster and the student's ability to discuss their research in-person. The judges may be from your discipline, but may not: so you need to be prepared to present your research to non-experts in your field.
  • First, Second, and Third Place Awards are given to posters in each session by research division:
    • Natural Sciences and Engineering
    • Social Sciences, Journalism, and Humanities
  • 'People’s Choice Awards' are given to the favorite poster from each session, as voted by attendees.
  • See a list of winners from the last Expo 2017 Expo Poster Winners.pdf (35.95 KB)


Technical Instructions and guidelines for the expo


Poster Size and Display

  • At the Expo you will share a free-standing board with one other student. You are responsible for bringing pins or tacks to mount your poster.
  • Posters should be no more than 4' wide. The boards are 6.5' high x 8' wide, and we put two posters side by side. Posters wider than 4' will hang off one end. If you need a lot of space, consider making a poster that is taller, rather than wider.
  • Browse images from past Expos on our facebook page, to get an idea of the poster board dimensions.


Designing a poster


If you have never designed a poster for a conference before it might seem intimidating, particularly if you come from a discipline that is text-heavy and tends not to rely on images or graphs to present data. Don't let this put you off! We will be running workshops in May to help you get started and practice talking about your research one-on-one.

There are also plenty of resources out there on the web that you should consult for ideas and tips. Below are some sites we have found that offer great guides to making posters and preparing your presentation. Some are discipline specific, reflecting different conventions and the different kinds of data being handled in your field. But nearly all these sites have tips or advice that students from any discipline will find useful.


  • "Poster Tips for Humanities Conference Posters" from the Archives and Public History blog. A great introduction for those who have no idea how to start!
  • "Poster Design Guide" from the Cain Project. A general guide to posters and poster-sessions, with some great practical tips for students from any discipline.
  • "Design Tips for Creating an Arts and Humanities Poster" from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities' Research Group for Electronic Textuality and Theory, at Western University blog. Includes good design tips and has additional links at the bottom of the page with even more resources.
  • "Poster Sessions – A Design Historian Reflects" written by Grace Lees-Maffei, Reader in Design History at the School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire. A more in-depth discussion of visual elements from the perspective of a professional designer, with some creative suggestions.
  • "Tips for Presenting a Poster" written by Anna L. Smith, Texas Tech University. A step-by-step guide to help you prepare to talk about your work when you are in the poster session. (Note: This guide assumes your poster is based on an already written journal article or paper. This isn't expected for the Expo.)
  • "Designing Conference Posters" written by Colin Purrington. A much longer and more detailed guide to both designing and presenting your poster, that is particularly applicable for science posters but useful for anyone. Includes a number of templates.
  • "Posters in the Humanities and Science Sciences" written by Aimee Roundtree at the University of Houston. Includes a relevant discussion of how posters in the Social Sciences are similar/different to those in the Natural Sciences.
  • "How to Make a Great Poster" written by Dina F. Mandoli, University of Washington Department of Biology and Center for Developmental Biology. Practical advice from a natural science perspective.


Options for Poster Design and Assembly

You have multiple options for designing and assembling your poster. The three most common approaches are:

1) Design your poster on a computer (e.g., using PowerPoint or another program - see below) and have the poster printed as a single, large sheet. Some departments provide printing services for students or you can have your posted printed at a local print shop (e.g., Quartet Copies).

2) Purchase a standard poster board from an art or office supply store and physically assemble the poster components in advance on the board.

3) Print individual sheets/poster components on a regular printer and pin them to the board provided at the Expo.


Software to Create your Poster