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Library Research Guides

Designing Professional Posters with Illustrator

Learn the six basic tools for designing and creating posters with Adobe Illustrator.

Creating Posters with Illustrator PDF

Sample Posters

Tips for Designing a Poster


Bad Poster Example 

Good Poster Example  

*from the Oceanography Society


Consider these components when thinking about and designing your poster:






Your layout will help guide users through the poster.

  • use visual hierarchy to guide readers to the important parts of your poster.
  • use a column format to make your poster easier to read in a crowd.
  • use organization cues (arrows etc). to guide readers through your poster.
  • use "reader gravity" which pulls the eye from top to bottom and left to right (Wheildon 1995).
  • use headings intelligently to help readers find your main points and key information.
  • balance the placement of text and graphics to create visual appeal.
  • use white space creatively to help define the flow of information.


sample poster

dmahr flickr

Your poster should be a good balance of text, images, charts, and white space.  Poster layouts work best when there is a symmetry.




Summarize Use headings as opportunities to summarize your work in large letters. A hurried reader should be able to get the main points from the headings alone.
Organize Good headings are part of the visual hierarchy that helps move readers through your poster.
Hierarchical The more important the point, the larger the type.
Be Bold

Make the strongest statements your research allows.

Poster titles should be at minimum 72pt font, but depending on the length can be 150+pt.



  • Minimize text - use images and graphs instead.
  • Use phrases (when appropriate) rather than full sentences.
  • Use an active voice.
  • Left-justify text; avoid centering and right-justifying text.
  • Use a serif font (e.g., Times) for most text - easier to read.
  • Sans-serif font (e.g., Helvetica) OK for titles and headings
  • Text can be at least 25pt.  Headings 50+pt.  
  • Pay attention to text size in figures - it must also be large.
  • Titles should be at least 72pt.