How to create a better research poster in less time (#betterposter Generation 1)

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Template here: | Examples on Twitter:

Every field in science uses the same, old, wall-of-text poster design. If we can improve the knowledge transfer efficiency of that design even by a little bit, it could have massive ripple effects on all of science.

Also, poster sessions tend to suck, so here’s my pitch to make them more efficient AND more fun with a new approach to designing scientific posters/academic posters that is both more usable, and easier to create!

MY TWITTER (tag me in me your poster selfies!!):

PORTRAIT LAYOUT (alpha version)…

WAIT NEVERMIND: Ignore what I said about colors. Instead, use colors that trigger the right emotions to fit your punchline, when possible. Failing that, use colors that complement/repeat colors from a key graphic/image. Try to do something above defaulting to your school’s bg color.

I started in (, which made concepting super fast and easy. Then I threw everything on a green background and did extra stuff in Adobe After Effects. If you want to make a video like this for yourself, I cannot recommend starting in Vyond highly enough. You can get started with ZERO video experience, and be having fun & making stuff within 5 minutes. It’s like a gateway drug for animating.

Add it! As in the video, I was aiming for a minimal base, with nothing to take away. There’s plenty of stuff that can be added. Got an idea? Modify it and let me know how it goes! This is not the only way to do a poster well, nor is it perfect in all cases. Just one suggestion that, I think, is at least a step in the right direction from the wall of text. You can take it way further. It’s more important that you experiment with lots of ideas than ‘decide’ on one layout.

In my experience, visual fields (e.g., org chem, robotics, planetary science) can actually go even more minimalist than this standard #betterposter layout. If that’s you, think of your poster as a very brief visual story, that can be absorbed from 6 feet away. See how few images & sentences you can use to communicate your key methods and results.

Special thanks to my fellow IO Psychologist friend Jacob Bradburn ( for martyring his otherwise-perfectly-fine traditional academic poster for the cause….and also for letting me steal his “Woodstock for geeks” joke.

Also thanks to Sergio M at MSU ( for picking the intro music!

source – If Video Not Display Click Here

Responses (50)

  1. This is novel and new, although I have seen similar ideas on LinkedIn, but I prefer a combo between this and a concise poster with bullet points and some data. Include simple flow diagrams perhaps. With this design, you might as well just put up a QR code and go off for coffee. Lol

  2. Just love this poster design. You are teaching to focus on essentials and good organization of content instead of just stuffing as much information as possible into one poster. Great video.

  3. @MikeMorrison. THANK YOU so much for your generosity of sharing, and to those of your friends and colleagues who have done the same. For years I have hated Poster sessions, hated making them, hated doing them, bored to death looking at walls and walls of fine print and indecipherable graphs. A total waste of time – might as just write the bloody paper and go through the journal submission process. Posters do have their place – and someone has FINALLY developed a way to make Posters shine – reflect the important work presented, while not pretending it's anything other than….. a Poster.

  4. This is so cool… why didn't I see this before spending hours on a poster and travelling halfway across the world to stand next to it on my own for hours!? Thanks for doing this.

  5. I am doing a science poster for school for the first time ever, I have been searching for something that works for me and this is the best thing I could have found on internet

  6. wow! wow! wow! Insightful and beautifully made! I will definitely apply you suggestions! Thank you!
    I will present a poster in a virtual conference – do you have ideas regarding the poster design?
    And i remember in some posters i saw and liked there was a kind of demonstration so you can get a test of the research – of course it doesn't always fit but i find it very engaging and enjoyable.

  7. Mike, although science isn't my domain, I always try to see things through a different lens. Your cartoon was so awesome, I had to play it back through to obtain the transcript. The visuals were spot on and you've triggered a good few ideas, including a QR code on my ZOOM background when presenting a seminar and leaving folks at the end to scan the code to get the PDF preso. The main thing I took away was your saying how much you believe is these walkthrough poster sessions were more effective 'we could accelerate insight and discovery and be more fun for everybody'. Your template is awesome. I'm also a Presentations Guild Member and love Sandy, Try and Nolan's Presentation Podcast, which I've still to listen to.

  8. interested to hear if someone has implemented this idea in practise and how was accepted by the audience? I am a bit worried it will be negatively judged due to long accepted academic poster expectations….

  9. This was extremely helpful. I am using one of the powerpoint templates from the link you provided. A sincere thank you for sharing this great information!

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