Clinical science

Preparing For Poster Sessions

How to Prepare Clinical Posters

Clinical Posters For Real

In addition to selling anatomy posters, ClinicalPosters has considerable experience preparing clinical, or scientific, posters. Happily, you can now order scientific posters online.

Medical conferences provide an opportunity for you to speak with fellow practitioners and view innovations in your field. A poster presentation, at a congress or conference with an academic or professional focus, is the presentation of research information in the form of a paper poster or digital kiosk that conference participants may view. It can be a stimulus for peers, prospective vendors, or grant funders. On one extreme, an effective presentation may have a multi-million dollar impact on a large company’s financial performance. A modest benefit is establishing key contacts and potential colleagues.

ClinicalPosters assists by assembling clinical science materials into a professional design. Most public events specify acceptable formatting guidelines. Informal presentations rely on the author’s training, experience with similar audiences, and criteria outlined herein.

Deadlines for abstracts may occur months in advance of an event. They typically summarize the entire poster in 300–450 words using generic, not proprietary, names of drugs. Some­times researchers are still awaiting final data. Pay attention to abstract due dates so as not to miss a presentation. Do not rely on general turnaround times. Delivery dates can be skewed by approval delays, changes in specifications, or design studio production schedules.

An effective presentation can have a multi-million dollar impact on a large company’s financial performance.

At some poster sessions, posters are vertical. Most are horizontal. Get dimensions and specifications so you know how much text to prepare. Your designer also needs this information to present layouts. If you are provided with an 8x4-foot board, subtract at least a foot from each dimension for the poster to have a comfortable margin. Virtual conferences or e-posters have much smaller dimension requirements. If you plan to print a large poster (from the e-poster), higher-resolution images are necessary when building the poster file.

Regarding proofreading, rarely, if ever, has originally submitted text made it to final print. Even after multiple authors have signed off on the content after revisions, they must read the fully formatted poster. Companies with legal counsel may even have the poster reviewed before printing. Potential trade secrets and proprietary technologies are often expunged. With this in mind, try to avoid waiting until the last week before the event’s poster deadline to begin preparing content.

Coordinating poster preparation among several authors can take several weeks. Some corporations may concurrently prepare dozens of posters. Each poster in a group may need to be compared for formatting consistency.

Arousing Title


The most significant research can be obfuscated by a poorly constructed title. It is the most prominent block of text on a clinical poster. It is typically the largest, first recognized, and most reproduced element. It is common to use a phrase title, while some scientists and engineers effectively use sentence titles for posters with a single main result. Keep the poster title simple, yet informative. While a short title is easier to remember and allows for a larger and more legible font, some authors prefer to summarize the main point of the poster in one long sentence. The rationale is that the viewer grasps the point without reading the rest of the poster. Consider how the content may be concisely conveyed.

All uppercase text interferes with readers’ natural inclination to recognize words based on shapes and relative character size. Hence, capitals take longer to read.

Identify Objective

To find out areas of interest prompting current clinical trials, visit Through research, absorb as much as you can about the subject—not only from personal experience but from that of other authors whom you may wish to credit on your poster. Stimulate creativity by reading recently published research articles.

An objective must be established before writing a paper, and often before beginning clinical research. This objective forms the basis for an effective abstract, which summarizes the motivation, methods, results, and conclusions. Often, a poster abstract is submitted for acceptance months in advance of an event. Upon approval, it may be printed in a booklet or published on a website for attendees.

If the abstract also appears on the poster, deviation from the pre-submitted text could have the poster removed by event organizers. Hence, abstracts must be worded carefully and mention only evidence-based results. In some cases, if the abstract is lengthy, final posters might replace the “abstract” with a shorter “introduction.” This allows more area for results and conclusions. Use appropriate clinical terminology when presenting to colleagues. Less technical vocabulary is warranted for consumers or internal marketing meetings.

Engage Audience

Writing a clinical study report requires skill. A viewer should recognize the subject and personal benefit within 20 seconds of seeing the poster. This does not mean the entire poster must be read in such a short time. Rather, the title, main visuals, and introductory statement should immediately convey value.

As textual minutiae increases, fonts and images correspondingly diminish in size. The audience is often moving down many rows of posters or scrolling through titles within a kiosk to grasp salient points. Avoid dense text blocks. Use short paragraphs and/or bulleted copy so the type is large enough to be read from a reasonable distance.

Photos, diagrams, and charts validate written results. Graphics that are acceptable for internal presentations may need to be professionally redrawn to maintain a corporate image and prevent copyright violations. Licensing existing illustrations can also be advantageous for some projects.

Attracting Attention

The purpose of presenting scientific posters is to get intelligent peers to read and discuss your findings. They may either validate your conclusions, exchange ideas about similar research, or dispute it. Whatever feedback you receive is a win. But among a sea of posters, how do you increase foot, or “eye,” traffic and conversations about yours?

Draw people into your poster with the title, with unique graphics, by dominating an aisle with branded posters, or by enlarging significant conclusions. “Researchers see up to 30% improvement” is more interesting than p>0.05% or “Statistically significant improvement.” Consider emphasizing favorable subject reaction to treatment. Of course, if there is a noteworthy breakthrough, like a cure for cancer, you might want to lead with that.

Fear of criticism causes some authors to go overboard with details. Do not get lost in the minutia. Remember, it’s a poster—a sound bite—something to invite discussion. To be honest, virtually no one will read every word on your poster. With hundreds or even thousands of exhibitors, most attendees do well to browse as many poster titles as possible. They then linger on a few that capture attention. Brevity, without obscuring the main point, is appreciated.

Who doesn’t like before-and-after pictures? No one if differences are subtle. Which chart(s) or table(s) have the most impact? Ten similar charts or even one with too many plot points can be bland or confusing. Without being deceptive, a professional designer can help plot charts in a manner that is appropriate for posters.

Arrange Sections

Even if you know how to write a research poster, make certain it is formatted correctly for a clinical poster presentation. Deviate too much from the established clinical poster format and your audience is lost. Based on varying levels of interest, the audience determines how much time is spent reading. Most people only briefly consider the abstract or introduction and conclusions. Others, with a deep interest in the subject, may examine the poster in its entirety.

Sections should be organized so viewers with specific habits can locate the information they seek. Immediately below the title is a section for author(s) with educational degrees and institutional affiliations. Beneath this, with some variation, labeled sections are generally ordered in the following manner:

  • Abstract (or Introduction)
  • Materials and Methods (optional)
  • Results (and discussion)
  • Conclusion(s)
  • References (when appropriate)

Find out in advance if a poster number must be displayed so it can be printed on the poster rather than drawn on with a marker as an afterthought (unless it will be presented at several different conferences).

How To Present Posters

While concerned with the obvious things like conference registration, and airline and hotel reservations, it is easy to forget details that help make in-person poster presentations successful.

In-Person Poster Presentation Checklist
  • Do not forget the poster(s).
  • Pack pushpins and tape.
  • Prepare brief responses to possible questions about the poster.
  • If there is scheduled time for oral presentations, have a rehearsed video presentation available.
  • Bring a small supply of handouts for sincerely interested viewers.
  • Dress to match poster colors and decorum.
  • Wear a name badge.
  • Bring business cards.
  • Is mounted card holder appropriate?
  • Have pen and paper or digital tablet handy.
  • Bring return shipping labels for physical posters.
  • Pack a fresh change of clothing in case the original outfit gets soiled.

If you decide to bring a limited number of handouts (flyers), offer them to non-competing attendees who demonstrate a measure of interest in exchange for their contact info. The handouts do not require all the information that is on the poster. Instead of printed handouts (or on them), some exhibitors include a QR code on posters. The code links to a web page with poster content. Find out if this is allowable before doing so.

Virtual Poster Presentation Checklist
  • Submit abstract for approval
  • Confirm poster dimensions
  • Verify art submission date
  • Finalize poster text
  • Decide format for data (charts, tables, photos, art)
  • Order professional layout
  • Submit poster art on time

The pandemic set the stage for an increasing number of virtual poster sessions or webinars. Event organizers supplement meetings with portals for viewing e-Posters. We must wait to see how long it takes for attendees to gravitate to in-person events post-pandemic.

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