for Molecular Biology Research
- Start early. Posters take much longer to get
right than anyone ever thinks.
- Do not open a digital poster program
(Powerpoint or other) until you complete steps 3, 4, and 5.
That is, you should plan this out in analog, with a pencil and
- Map out the storyboard for your results
section. This is the key part of your poster,
and it should be planned before you do anything else. On
scratch paper, write and draw out the following stuff.
- Make a list of all of the results that you’ve
gotten along the way. A gel is a result. The appearance of
petri plates are results, etc.
- Can you form those results into a story? Some
results may be more important to your story than other
results. Narrow your results down to the 4-8 most important
- For each result, devise a graphical way to represent the
result. If the experiment that you did prior to the data needs
explaining, think of a way to graphically show that, too.
- Now think of a “headline” to put above this
graphic that could communicate what your interpretation of the
data is, what your conclusion is. Write the headline as a
- Using a separate sheet of scratch paper for
each result (as if it were a powerpoint slide), write the
declarative header and sketch the graphic that explains the
experiment and shows the data.
- Lay all of these sheets out and see if you
can follow along the story of your research just by reading
the headers and looking at the graphics. Show it to your
friends and see if they can, too.
- If you or they cannot follow the story, what
else do you need? Make the appropriate changes until the story
- Now devise a research question or hypothesis
(a research objective) that makes sense to ask --
and then the story of your research answers, or begins
to answer. Save this to write as the final sentence of your
- Take a look at your Objective from step 4.
What information does a totally naive person need to know in
order for that objective to make sense? Prepare the content
for your Introduction by writing the key pieces of info that:
- describe the general phenomenon and
interesting things about it
- list some more specific facts/observations
that we know something about
- describe the mystery that you are interested
in trying to shed light on (what do we not know?)
- again, this content should go from general to
specific (an inverted triangle) and give a reader enough of a
background so that they can understand and appreciate your research
objective, why you did this research.
- Make the final sentence of your Introduction
a statement of your research objective.
- Do some self-evaluation:
(i) is your research objective clear and obvious?
(ii) is your research objective something that the experiments in
the poster will help you answer or achieve?
(iii) can a naive person read your introduction (5a - 5d) and then
understand your objective? Can a naive person now say why it is
worth spending a lot of time and energy working to try to achieve
- You now have enough content to start
constructing the actual poster.
- Take a look at these websites for
information, things to think about, etc. Some offer templates,
which are fine, but you also have access to a molecular
biology - specific template that I made below.
This is a humorous introduction to many of the things to
think about regarding making and presenting a poster.
This has some good things to consider as you try to make
headers that are informative for each of your pieces of data.
Also, good general poster planning and making information.
Excellent in explaining what makes headers and graphics
effective. Gives positive examples and negative examples.
- Download this
template poster. It has suggestions and
appropriate sizes. Colors, box sizes, and other things can be
changed to make the poster your own.
Use its advice along with that above and on these websites.