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Communications: Design

This course provides an overview of the basic concepts of communication and the skills necessary to communicate in various contexts. Emphasis is placed on communication theories and techniques used in interpersonal group, public, intercultural, and mass c


Text is an important part of your poster. Use it effectively to tell the essential parts of your story.

  • minimize text - long sections of text detract from the visual appeal, make key facts less visible, and take more time to read
  • break text into sections that can be separated and arranged with your graphics
  • write concisely
  • choose fonts that are easily readable
  • use font sizes that are readable from at least 5-6 feet away
  • titles should be larger than section headings, which are larger than text and captions
  • captions should be easily readable and written horizontally
  • use bold type for titles and section headings
  • use bold type or color to highlight key terms
  • using all capitals is generally harder to read than using mixed cases


Creating your poster may be entirely original work on your part, but if you use text, images, or designs from another source, you need to be aware of copyright. If an item is under copyright, there are limits on whether, how, and how much of the item it is fair for you to reuse.

Credit: Copyright symbol. From "Copyright" article in Wikipedia.


Color can enhance your poster and attract viewers, if used effectively.

You might use color to:

  • improve the visual appeal of your poster
  • improve the reader's ability to understand it quickly
  • highlight important elements in your poster
  • connect related information
  • distinguish different categories of information
  • present results in graphic form
  • provide accurate images of examples from your work

Things to watch:

  • don't overdo - very bright posters can draw attention, but may be difficult or tiring to read
  • dark and brightly colored backgrounds can use a lot of ink when printing
  • many prefer to read dark text on light backgrounds
  • choose colors with sufficient contrast. Your text must be easily readable against the background, and colors on graphs and charts must be easily distinguished from each other.
  • maintain a color scheme
  • avoid using green and red next to each other to limit difficulties for those with color-blindness

Poster Content

Your poster should tell the story of your research or project - what you did, why it is important, what your results and conclusions were. It should highlight the main points of your work without going into all the detail that you would include in a research paper.

Here are some things to think about as you organize the content of your poster. You can get more tips from the Helpful Resources links on the tab above.

  • identify the message you want viewers to take away with them
  • focus on the main points of your message
  • organize your information in a logical flow
  • minimize text
  • present your story visually as much as possible
  • include your results in an easily interpretable form, such as graphs or charts, if possible
  • make your conclusions clear and obvious
  • use bullet points and lists to make key material readily visible
  • describe methodology, but leave out the details that would go into a research paper
  • plan on presenting details in conversation with your viewers or in a handout
  • choose a title that is specific, informative, and will catch viewers' attention
  • if an abstract is required, it should concisely summarize the story of your work
  • captions should make clear the significance of an illustration or the conclusion drawn from a chart or graph
  • authors' names, affiliations, and contact information should be readily visible
  • acknowledge any sponsors, research grants, and assistance
  • cite any direct use of others' work
  • include any information or content required by the session organizer

Remember, most viewers will not read your entire poster in detail. They should, however, be able to understand its basic message by looking at the title, abstract or introduction, section headings, figures, and conclusions.


PowerPoint is commonly used for creating posters. It is available in any of the Library (Library) Information Commons areas, and can be acquired by all RCCC students. You will create your poster on one PowerPoint slide. Be sure to set the proper dimensions at the beginning, since the program defaults to standard settings for a slide show.

Color Wheel

A color wheel based on HSV, labeled with color names from HTML

Credit: From "Color Wheel" article in Wikipedia. Submitted by Jacobolus.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons develops copyright licenses designed to enhance the sharing and creative reuse of digital content. Copyright owners may choose to license their materials under one of several licenses with various requirements or limits on reuse, such as attribution required or no commercial use.

Learn more about using Creative Commons licensing - for your own work or for reusing others' work - at the links below.

Using Color

The resources below can help you get started with using color in your poster.