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Guidelines for Creating a SPARC Festival Poster

A poster presents the result of a project visually, demonstrating the goals, methods, and conclusions. Your poster should be self-explanatory, leaving you free to answer questions on the finer details of your project. Strike a balance between coverage and simplicity.

Here are a few example posters:

Location and Time

Poster sessions last two hours and take place in Patriot Hall. Arrive 15 minutes early to set up.


Design a poster that can be tacked onto a 4 foot by 4 foot corkboard. Pushpins will be available.

Use PowerPoint to design a 4 x 4 poster that can be printed in the Center for Instructional Technology and tacked onto the mounting board.

Or design a series of slides (letter-sized or smaller) that can be individually printed and tacked onto the mounting board.

You may supplement your poster with a laptop presentation, though access to electric outlets will be limited. If you include audio, keep the volume to a reasonable level.


Present sufficient evidence to support your conclusions. Use illustrations, plots, small tables, or other visually-appealing content over text. If your project was initially in narrative form, select representative excerpts. Limit yourself to four or five pages of text in a large font legible from a four-foot distance.


Provide background on your goals, methods, and conclusions. What is the underlying question, why is it important, what is the timeline, who were the participants, what activities went into the research, what conclusion did you reach? Share enough information to allow observers to respond with informed questions.


Sequence items on your poster in an intuitive way that allows observers to readily understand your project. Use left-to -right, top-to-bottom organization and include letters or arrows if necessary. Feature major points, leaving other findings for informal conversations with SPARC attendees. Provide clear labels for each section of your presentation. Use color to enhance comprehension.

Title and names

Choose a descriptive, catchy title. Include the names of the presenters.


Simplicity is key. Don't try to cover too much material. Say a lot about a little rather than a little about a lot. Rehearse a brief summary of your project. Before you make your poster, create a list of the visuals you would include if you were describing your project with only the visuals. Write the text after you have created the list of visuals.

For examples of poster sessions from previous SPARC festivals, visit our Facebook page.

16300 Old Emmitsburg Road | Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Map & Directions | | 301-447-6122
Frederick Campus | 5350 Spectrum Drive | Frederick, MD 21703
Map & Directions | | 301-682-8315