Tutorial: Creating a Digital Poster

Posters with Pat

So you’ve decided to create a digital poster…

There are two probable reasons you have made this decision: either you realize the potential of the poster as a digital medium or you’ve been coerced into doing so, likely by a professor. If it’s the former, awesome! Let’s get to work. If it’s the latter, then let’s make the best of this, shall we?

Why create a digital poster?

Typically, posters contain information summarized from a paper. A poster does not allow nearly as much information to be conveyed as a paper does, but this can actually be viewed as a strength. Papers, though very comprehensive, also require a large amount of time to consume. Posters, however, require much less of a time commitment than a paper, while still containing more information than other digital media forms (such as infographics). Thus, posters accomplish the difficult task of being both highly informational and easily digestible.

Digital posters are also one of the most pervasive forms of information communication. At some conferences, for example, a poster is required for all presenters. Thus, the ability to create digital posters is a vital skill.

Okay, I’ve decided to make a digital poster. What information do I include?

Obviously, you’ll have less space than you did in your paper, so you’re going to need to be much more concise. For more formal papers, you will typically want to have a section of your poster dedicated to all of the major parts of your paper (Abstract, Literature Review, Results, References, etc.). For these sections, you will have to decide which pieces of information are most vital for inclusion, and what should be represented in the form of graphs or charts. Include only the most vital information that allows your words to fit within the relatively small frame of the poster, while also narrowing your focus.

Now that I’ve decided what to include, how can I actually design the poster?

There are several methods you can utilize to create a digital poster, such as Canva, Padlet, and Adobe Photoshop. However, for the first-time digital poster designer, we recommend using Microsoft PowerPoint.

Library Lair‘s tutorial is a great starting point for beginners. The tutorial provides very basic tips for utilizing PowerPoint. Go ahead and give the tutorial a read.

Library Lair’s tutorial provides these basic, and necessary, tools:

  • Formatting your poster to a certain size specification
  • Setting a background
  • Choosing a layout and color scheme
  • Saving your completed poster

How can I further improve my poster?

Rather than utilizing one of PowerPoint’s built-in slide themes (which can look, frankly, quite unappealing on a poster), we suggest playing around with the “Format Background” tool. You can find the Format Background under the Design tab:

 

screenshot1

 

Utilizing the Format Background tool, you can change your background’s color (perhaps using a gradient), texture, and pattern. You can even upload and insert a picture of your own.

 

screenshot3

Additionally, take advantage of the “Insert” tab. The Insert tab provides tools for adding pictures, shapes, graphs, charts, and text boxes to your poster. You can also add in video or music (although this should obviously only be done if the poster is going to be read online).

screenshot4

 

Ultimately, the “best” way to design your poster is heavily subjective (and based on the expectations of your intended audience). However, gaining familiarity with the helpful and straightforward tools that PowerPoint has available will take you a long way in creating a digital poster you are proud of.

If you would like more hands-on assistance in creating your poster, our Student Technology Liaisons are always available for an appointment. Additionally, feel free to e-mail us at DLAStuTech@gmail.com.