The Dermatology Nurses' Association
Nurses serving nurses for more than 30 years!

How to Prepare an Effective Poster

Attendees at 2009 annual convention view poster abstracts
Photo: Scott Eisen

The Dermatology Nurses' Association believes in the use of research findings to improve patient care outcomes, to add to the science of nursing, and to promote the role of the nurse in the eyes of the other members of the health care team and the public. Hence, DNA sponsors annual poster sessions at its conventions to facilitate information sharing.

Posters are excellent forums for communicating creative nursing interventions, new models of delivery of services, and innovative research projects in a relatively short time to a wide audience. However, a viewers' perception of the quality of the poster is influenced by the overall appearance and the flow of the information presented. A poorly presented poster can easily sink the best ideas. Following a uniform approach to poster presentation can enhance the quality of communication between the presenter and the viewer.

Template for Poster Abstracts

Content of the Poster:

  1. Title - Clearly show the main thrust of the study or the project.
  2. Author(s) - List the names, educational degrees and institutional affiliations.
  3. Research problem(s), hypotheses, or aims - List these succinctly showing the dependent and independent variables or the aims of your project.
  4. Background - Review the most salient literature and/or theories. The use of models are highly recommended.
  5. Research or project design - Indicate the design of the study (true experimental, quasi-experimental, survey etc).
  6. Sample - Describe how the sample was selected. Indicate the Institutional Research Board approval.
  7. Method - Describe the procedure and instruments used.
  8. Results - Delineate results clearly in a few short sentences showing their link to the listed research questions, hypotheses or aims of the study.
  9. Significance to nursing - List the implications of finding for dermatology nursing practice.
  10. Abstract - Have the abstract ready to be distributed to the interested viewers.

General Guidelines for Appearance of the Poster:

  1. Viewing distance - The lettering should be at least I inch high and legible from 4-6 feet. Design the poster with bold and easily readable letters. Regular size typed-up pages as the poster itself are inappropriate.
  2. Subsections: -Subsections of the posters as outlined above should be arranged from left to right to facilitate easy reading.
  3. Use of graphs, models and enlarged pictures - The uses of these techniques are highly recommended as they enhance the visual attractiveness of the poster and expedite communication.
  4. Amount of information - Keep the details to a minimum. Resist the urge to include everything. A good comprehensive abstract should be viewed within five minutes or less. It is the tidy, readable, and appealing poster that will attract viewers.
  5. Resources - Regular poster board is the most common material used for posters. Book and art stores carry variety of boards with different size, color, and texture. Avoid too bright, too light, or too dark colors unless a contrasting letters are used. White on light blue, blue on white, white on green, or black or tan are attractive combinations. In addition, use of commercial or institutional graphic departments, computer software packages, media specialists, or consulting with experienced colleagues are encouraged. Also, there are number of excellent “How to do Posters” articles that may be helpful to review before preparing a poster.