Poster Criteria

The purpose of a poster exhibit is to convey to a wide audience a research project's significance to scholars in the field and its potential significance to the general public. Exhibits will be graded on their quality in three areas:


The exhibit must include:

  • Thesis title and author's name
  • A current Union College logo. Download logos here
  • Reference to the "Union College honors program." (note capitalizations)
  • Proof of regulatory committee approval (if the project involves human or animal subjects or biohazardous materials)
  • Research problem statement or objective of the project
  • Hypothesis or research questions
  • A description of the sample
  • Methodology of the study
  • Major conclusions
  • Directions for future research

Display Format

  • The core of each exhibit is a poster with text and graphics intended for a more general audience.
  • Poster will measure 30" x 40" and will be mounted on foam core.
  • When poster printing instructions are followed, printing costs up to $50 will be reimbursed to the student in exchange for the poster. Poster printing instructions may be obtained here. Please confirm with the Honors Center that the instructions are current.
  • Easels to display posters will be provided.
  • Poster should attract attention and convey important information about the project.
  • Language should be simple and descriptions brief. Jargon should be avoided; necessary technical terms should be defined.
  • Spelling and grammar must be correct.
  • Photographs, drawings, charts, tables, or graphs should be simple, well organized, and carefully chosen to quickly explain complicated technical concepts to a wide audience.
  • All text should be large enough to be read from a distance of 4 to 6 feet away.

Diagrams, graphs and tables can be used effectively to present certain aspects of the study, such as the findings. Pictures may also be used for interest. It is better not to place too much material on a poster to avoid it looking cluttered.

The major titles/subtitles should be in large letters, at least 1 inch high. Typed material should be prepared with large letters.

Poster Qualities

First and foremost, a good poster must be clear, concise, important, relevant and eye-catching.


  • The "bottom line" should be unambiguous. The title and the conclusion should say something such as "Chemical A kills people at three times the normal dosage," as opposed to "The effects of chemical A on human subjects."
  • The title should accurately reflect the content. For example, posters should not be  titled "the effects of ," when in fact the poster deals with the "Lack of effects"
  • Have no more than three major conclusions. The fewer the better.
  • Leave out extraneous information. Lengthy details on "methods and materials" can be obtained later from the authors, if needed.


  • A poster may be the most important scientific work in a decade, but if the presentation is not concise, the judges can not evaluate it properly.
  • The most common mistake is to present too much information, too much data, and too many words. A poster is not a written scientific article. A judge, or a fellow scientist, does not have an hour or two to read a lengthy dissertation.
  • The message should be delivered in large type. Use pictures, bullets, arrows and other devices to deliver the message easily.


  • Give a short, very clear statement of the importance of your work
  • Examples:
    • This is the first time that this "effect" has been seen
    • This method is ten times faster than the previous method
    • This "effect" shows that consumers are in danger of...
    • This method uses far fewer test animals than...


  • Don't belabor the relevance, but do show it.
  • If appropriate, show usefulness to industry submissions, to field testing, to standards development, etc.
  • Relevance and importance are closely related, so don't "beat your brains out" trying to decide the difference between the two criteria.


  • Posters don't have to be hi-tech. A simple, clean, attractive poster can accomplish the same mission of getting someone's attention.
  • The most important "eye catcher" is the title. If you can get your "bottom line" across in the title, you've captured the attention of your audience.
  • The second most important "eye catcher" is the conclusion.
  • If I've read the title and the conclusion and I'm still lost, then your poster is in serious trouble.