Guidelines for Posters


Poster presentations are held on the Wednesday evening of the conference, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. You may set up your poster any time between 5:00 pm and 6:30 pm that day.

Size and Shape

All posters are displayed on a floor standing fabric-covered bulletin board with 2 presentations per side. The poster presentation boards are 8 feet WIDE by 4 feet HIGH and, allowing for the frame, each presenter will have 44” x 44” for his or her display.

What to Bring

Bring your poster and at least 50 copies of a one-page handout about your work (with your email or eLibrary link) to distribute. Consider uploading your poster presentation content into the AEA eLibrary and refer people there to learn more and/or access the full presentation content. You DO NOT need to bring the poster board itself or pins for attaching your poster components. AEA will supply the poster board and plenty of pins.

INSIDER TIP: If you have business cards, this is a great opportunity to distribute them as well.


Poster presentations should be visually appealing. Your poster should be:

  • Readable from at least six feet away, the smallest type should be approximately 24 pt with headings in 48 point or larger. The title can be 64 points or larger. Don’t forget to include the names and affiliations of authors. Narrative text should be in a serif font (like Times New Roman, Baskerville, etc.). Headings, titles, graph labels and so forth can be in a sans serif font (like Verdana, Trebuchet, or something even more interesting). Also consider breaking up large paragraphs into smaller chunks, which are more approachable.

INSIDER TIP: Not sure if your elements are readable? Pin one to a wall and back away three strides. Can you read the headlines and subheadings enough to be drawn in to read more?

  • On one sheet of large 3'8" by 3'8" paper. Do not post multiple 8.5”x11” pages of a written paper (make them available for distribution via the eLibary). Instead focus on the key elements.

INSIDER TIP: Ready to print? You’ll need to head to a business that can handle large printing on a single sheet of paper. Check your local university first. Otherwise, places like Fedex/Kinkos will print and even ship your poster.

  • Do not require electricity. You may not use a computer as part of your display. There is not flat space and no electricity - all posters are on standing boards.
  • Understandable, focusing on the ‘big picture’ points and with a minimum of jargon. Past evaluations have clearly indicated that one frustration, in particular for new and international attendees, is the use of ‘insider’ language, acronyms, and abbreviations that make it difficult to comprehend a presentation.
  • Logically organized into sections with text and graphics that flow from one part to the next. One way to maintain organization is to leave plenty of empty space between sections. Keep the poster uncluttered.

INSIDER TIP: Past Poster Contest judges have said “It should strike a balance between including sufficient information about the topic (e.g., intervention, population, methodology, results) and not being cluttered. Graphics, whenever possible, help.

  • To the point with elements that highlight your work. You have a brief period of time to catch attendees’ attention. Emphasize the most important components of your work in a clear and visually appealing way. Those who share your interests will stop and learn more from you directly or from your handouts.

INSIDER TIP: Past Poster Contest judges have said “the poster doesn’t have to address all elements of a study, and in fact a poster might not be about a ‘study’ at all, but could be about a concept, a specific finding or issue, or about something else altogether. I think references on any poster are just overkill, and if you have the sort of thing that needs references they should probably go on a supplementary handout.

  • Colorful with well-chosen graphics and judicious use of color to emphasize key points. Be careful about the use of colored text; it can be difficult to read unless printed with dark colored ink on a light colored background.
  • Visually engaging, in that a passerby would be attracted to the poster by use of large, clear graphs or diagrams, photographs, or other images directly related to your work. Use your own photos or locate some online at professional stock photo sites. Even in the absence of pictures, data visualization and color blocks behind key text are two simple ways to increase visual engagement.

INSIDER TIP: Past Poster Content judges have said great posters are “Easily readable, very visual. Really like a magazine style format with dominant photos/artwork and nice fonts that are easy on the eye, not cluttered or cramped."

  • Conversational in nature. The poster’s text should be framed in a language that is appropriate for a walking, interested reader. The type of language suitable for a journal article can be difficult to digest in a poster setting.
  • Succinct text with references or URLs removed from the poster and placed on a supplementary handout. The title should be able to be read at a glance.

INSIDER TIP: Even if you are working within an organizational template, look for places where you can insert the guidance here. For example, if the font is already chosen, you may still be able to change the size.

What to Expect During the Exhibition

 Remain at your poster, ready to discuss your work. Individual attendees browse among the posters throughout the event and chat with those presenting work of interest to them. If you get caught up in conversation with someone, try to be aware of, and welcome, others who may approach your poster and have questions about your work.

INSIDER TIP:: Some people are more shy than others and may walk by and just pick up your handouts or card. A friendly "Welcome" or "Please don't hesitate to ask any questions" on your part can serve as a great icebreaker.

Poster Competition

There will be a prize for the best poster presentations. A panel of judges will review posters based on content AND presentation. Winners will receive a ticket to the Friday awards luncheon, plus a small surprise!


  • Review great posters – from AEA and others – to see what works in action.
  • Review the commentary at Better Posters for some insight about what distinguishes average posters from the excellent.
  • Just getting started? Take 10 minutes to watch this set of YouTube videos about how to construct a poster (one even shows how to work within PowerPoint and adjust an organizational template). Our guidelines supercede theirs, but these videos offer a great general approach to poster development.

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Email Sheila Robinson with any questions or comments you may have.