Each team will create a project poster to exhibit at Posters & Pies, the exciting event at semester’s end where you get a chance to show off your hard work! Creating a professional poster is no simple task; it must accurately and efficiently convey information about your project while maintaining visual balance and stylistic appeal. Make sure to read all of the information on this page before starting your poster, and communicate often with the teaching staff – most teams go through multiple rounds of feedback before designs are finalized.
Examples of past project posters are available on the Class Notes page, and there are several printed posters on display in the SDC Lab.
Each project may have different content to present, but most posters should contain at least:
- Project name
- Sponsor name and logo
- Team member names
- NC State logo (download at brand.ncsu.edu)
- Project description / problem statement
- Project goals / requirements
Good design is, of course, more of an art than a science. The design needs of each poster will vary from project to project, but the guidelines below generally hold up in most situations and are worth keeping in mind as you go about crafting your design.
You are free to use any software of your choice to create your poster. Commonly-used programs include PowerPoint, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Inkscape. Poster submissions must be in either
Poster dimensions are 30″ height × 40″ width.
In PowerPoint, go to
File > Page Setup and choose
In general, readers tend to follow a natural reading flow starting in the upper-left corner moving to the lower-right. Poster material is often arranged in columns or a similar grid; in this case, the reader will start in the upper-left corner and read down each column in succession, from the leftmost to rightmost column. Keep this flow in mind when ordering and arranging the main content.
The careful use of white space (or negative space) is an important aspect of any poster design. Though it may seem unintuitive at first, the absence of content can actually help reinforce and balance the shape of the content itself, as well as aid in overall readability. (In designer-speak, your content has to have “room to breath.”) When possible, white space should be used to separate or otherwise visually differentiate sections of your poster, rather than using lines or nesting content into bordered boxes.
Project “metadata”, such as the names of team members and company logos, should be relatively small and placed neatly on the periphery of the poster.
Text & Fonts
Choose one primary typeface for your poster and use it consistently. Use a body text size that can be comfortably read from a few feet away. Body text should be left-aligned. Lines of text should fall somewhere around 45-65 characters in width; longer lines are difficult for readers to scan quickly.
In general, fonts should be sans-serif; many serifed fonts can be distracting and/or difficult to read in a poster setting, especially if they are thin or light. Other “novelty” typefaces should also be avoided. If your poster contains pieces of code or code-like snippets, consider setting them in a complementary monospaced font.
You may also choose a secondary, complementary font to use for section headings if you wish. Differentiate headers from body text using a signal such as size, weight, color, or font. Do not put a trailing colon ( : ) on headings.
Write body content in bulleted form and/or in short, succinct sections. Make sure that line spacing is appropriate and consistent between headers and body text, between bulleted items, and between body paragraphs.
- Item 1
- Item 2. This long item appropriately
wraps to a new line.
- Item 3
- Item 1
- Item 2. This long item does not
- Item 3
Whenever possible, use vector graphics in favor of raster or bitmap images. Make sure that bitmap images are rendered at an appropriate resolution for print: at least 150 dpi, preferably 300 dpi.
.svg, .eps, .ai
.png, .jpg, .tiff
≥ 150 dpi
All images should be displayed in their native aspect ratio; do not “squish” any images in one axis in an attempt to make it fit in a given space.
Make sure that all text within graphics is readable in terms of size and color. If possible, set it in the same or similar typeface as used on the rest of the poster. All images, diagrams, or other figures need to be captioned.
The use of color throughout a poster’s design can make – or break – its readability and overall impact. In general, dark text on a light background is the easiest to read. Make sure that any background colors or graphics are subtle and not distracting, and that there is sufficient contrast between any text and the background on which it sits.
Used carefully, bright and bold colors can be effective in bringing emphasis to certain information; however, if overused, the poster becomes “noisy” and difficult to read. This is especially true of reds, yellows, and oranges. (Even though it’s our school color, red should be used sparingly.)
Printing & Finishing
Posters will be printed by the TAs using the department’s wide-format printer. Your team is responsible for trimming and mounting your poster. Cut off the extra margins on the printed sheet so that the poster has the correct 30″ × 40″ dimensions.
If your poster or any of its edges have a solid white background, you should outline the poster before submitting using a thin hairline (~1 pt/px) to serve as a trimming guide.
On the day of P&P, each team will have one table in the poster exhibition room. You will use a provided tripod easel to display your poster. Some teams choose to place the easel next to their table with all 3 legs on the ground, some choose to shorten the legs and place all 3 on the table, and others place 2 shortened front legs on the table and one extended leg on the floor behind the table. You are free to set up your table however you like – just make sure that the poster and any demos are easily visible and accessible.
After P&P is done, your team needs to carry the posters, easels, and any other provided supplies back to the SDC Lab. Fold the easel into its compact form for storage and remove the poster from the foam board. There will be marked areas to separately store the posters, boards, binder clips, and easels.