Making an academic poster that stands outCourses for advanced PhD candidates

Course information

Number of sessions: 2
Hours per session: 4
Entry level: Intermediate
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €220,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 10 4082607 (Graduate School).

Session 1
February 8 (Thursday) 2018
Mandeville building (directions) T16-01

Session 2
February 9 (Friday) 2018
Mandeville building (directions) T16-01


Many academic conferences 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? Designing an effective poster is more than just summarising your research findings and copy/pasting them on A0 sheet of paper.

Posters depend 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 and visual communication and how to design your own poster with minimal effort. The course consists of a combination of interactive lectures and assignments. See the session descriptions for a detailed overview. 

Learning objectives

After this workshop you will:

  • Understand the fundamentals of effective writing and visual communication;
  • 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

Jan-Willem van der Mijde is the Graduate School's marketing and communications officer. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies (Utrecht University) and a Master’s degree in Journalism and New Media (Leiden University). Jan-Willem worked as editor-in-chief for an academic journal on audio-visual culture and reporter and (online) editor for several cultural festivals. He has done internships at the Dutch national broadcasters VPRO and NOS as respectively a television researcher and web editor. At the Graduate School his skills in visual design were further developed as designer and copy editor of dozens of brochures, flyers and the website.