Symposium Posters

The USC Undergraduate Symposium is primarily a “Poster Session” in which your project will be exhibited. These guidelines apply principally to traditional “poster” presentations, but students entering artistic work or other non-traditional entries should provide similar summary information about their work. The Poster Session is designed to allow you and an audience to dialog about your work. During the exhibition, faculty, staff and students will walk throughout the displays and talk with those presenting work that is of interest to them.

You should arrive early to check-in at the registration table, which will be located at the Tutor Campus Center Ballroom. You or someone from your group (if you are exhibiting a group project) should remain with your poster during the three hour-period (11:00am to 2:00pm) to allow for faculty questions, judging, and conversation pertaining to your work. Please review the suggested guidelines below for preparing your poster.


Your poster should address key points of your work and should not include overly detailed information. You will be given the opportunity to provide the fine points about your work to the faculty judges and to others who are interested as they review your poster. Well-prepared posters facilitate discussion and achieve good coverage of the topic while maintaining clarity. We suggest that your poster provide a brief overview of your work in an attractive manner.

A table will be provided for your poster. The tables are approximately 6 feet x 2.5 feet.  Space constraints prohibit us from using floor easels or affixing anything to walls/curtains.  Small tabletop easels will also be provided, if needed, but your poster may also be free-standing.  Your poster should be two-paneled or three-paneled, in order for it to be free-standing (see examples of posters).

The poster should be mounted on a rigid backing (usually foam-core poster board).  Foam boards are available from the USC bookstore or arts and supply stores. There are several ways to assemble a poster: you may paste individual pages, cutouts, images, sections, or presentation slides onto a poster board, or have a large single poster sheet printed on a wide-format plot printer.

Please note that academic departments with the wide-format printers and Fedex Office/Kinko’s are often very busy with poster requests at this time of year, so do not wait until the last minute to prepare/print your poster.

In order for all of the posters to have a uniform appearance, we suggest that you to attach your materials to a foam board approximately 3.5′ wide x 2.5′ high and 1/4″ thick. Larger size posters may be used, if desired.   However, there will be several tables in each exhibit row, with no space between the tables, so the maximum width should be no more than 5′. 

The title of your poster should appear in banner format at the top of your poster in capital letters about 1” high. Below the title, put your name (with the names of other group members, if applicable) and the category in which you are competing.

The flow of your poster should be downward in columns, starting at the top left and ending at the bottom right. Most posters include a brief introduction, a methodology section that includes subject information, procedures, results, and conclusions. Avoid too much technical jargon if possible and ensure that your conclusions leave observers with a concise understanding of your most-important findings.

You may wish to use color for highlighting and to make your poster more attractive. Creativity is important. You may use pictures, photographs, diagrams, figures, tables, cartoons, and so forth.

Try not to overwhelm observers with excessive text. State your main result in six or seven lines or less, in lettering about 5/8” high. Make sure that your poster can be read from a distance. The smallest text on your poster should be at least 3/8” high and your important points should be in a larger type.

Try to craft your poster to be as self-explanatory as possible, which will facilitate your discussion with the audience during the session.

You should prepare a short presentation (about five minutes in length) that you can periodically deliver to those who assemble around your poster. Be ready to give this presentation several times as people move through the displays. Plan to spend the entire session at your poster (11:00am – 2:00pm). Handouts or other display items may be used, depending upon your subject matter.

If your poster is a group effort, more than one author should attend the session to aid in the presentations and discussion, and to provide the main presenter with a chance to rest or answer questions individually with those who have detailed questions.

Examples and further information about posters can be found by searching the web. Click here to review a few examples of posters.