Making an academic poster that stands out

Professional skills courses

Course information

ECTS: 1.5
Number of sessions: 2
Hours per session: 4
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €265,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 10 4082607 (Graduate School).


Many academic conferences (both offline and online) have so-called poster sessions. During these sessions, researchers promote and explain their latest findings and methods by presenting their work on a poster. But how do you design an academic poster, and, most importantly, how do you make it stand out from the crowd? And should a poster for online conferences be any different than a poster for offline conferences? Designing an effective poster is more than just summarising your research findings and copy/pasting them on an A1 sheet of paper. Posters rely on a different form of visual communication than academic papers. Ideally, graphics and text complement each other, allowing you to clearly present the key aspects of your research and truly engage with your audience.

Aims and working method

In this two-day course you will learn about the fundamentals of effective writing, visual communication and how to design your own poster for both online and offline conferences. The course consists of a combination of interactive lectures and assignments.

Learning objectives

After this workshop you will:

  • Understand the fundamentals of effective writing and graphic design
  • Have a selection of free and easy-to-use graphic design tools
  • Be able to make your own academic poster with minimal effort

Target group

This course is geared towards PhD candidates who already have produced research findings which they expect to present in the near future. Prior knowledge of visual design is not required.

How to prepare

In order to actively participate in this course, you are required to submit:

  • a paper or article you would like to turn into a poster
    Ensure the paper or article includes an abstract (200 word maximum)
  • a (very) basic diagram of your submitted piece
  • any available graphs, tables, charts or other visuals you would like to include in your poster

Bring a laptop to both sessions. Ensure it is installed with MS Word and Publisher or it has access to your remote university desktop. Follow this link for detailed instructions on how to install the application.

  • If you do not have acces to a laptop, please include this in the comment section of the enrolment form.

Session descriptions

Session 1:
Blending effective writing with graphic design

  • Interactive lecture:
    Common pitfalls & quick wins
    Blending effective writing with graphic design
  • Assignments:
    Editing your text
    Designing your poster concept

Session 2:
Create your final poster design

  • Interactive lecture:
    Data visualisation
    Opportunities for interaction
    Introduction to desktop publishing applications
  • Assignment:
    Final poster design

About the instructor

Novika Purnama Sari is a PhD Candidate at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, embedded with Generation R Study Group Erasmus Medical Centre. Currently her research project concentrates on the topic of autism. She actively contributes as the chair of PhD Council in Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities. She also received the Best Poster Award 2019 by Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities (EGSH).

She used to work in a Danish design company as a project manager. Her main responsibility was making sure that the client receives a design based on their expectation. She became the mediator between customers and designers; receiving instruction, feedback, and working together with the designers to achieve the expected design result.