Poster Guidelines

The USC Undergraduate Symposium Exhibition consists primarily of poster presentations. These guidelines apply mainly to standard research posters, but students entering artistic or non-traditional entries should provide similar summary information about their work. During the exhibition, faculty, staff and students will walk around and dialogue with presenters.

Layout Options

Your poster should concisely address key points of your work. Posters should facilitate discussion and achieve wide coverage of the topic while maintaining clarity. Below are additional suggestions for creating an effective poster:

  • Put the project title in banner format at the top center of the poster in capital letters about 1” high. Below the title, put your name (and names of group members, if applicable) and the category in which you are competing.
  • Create a visual flow of your components so it is going downward in columns, starting at the top left and ending at the bottom right.
  • Include standard sections such as (1) Introduction, (2) Methodology, (3) Procedures, (4) Results, (5) Conclusion.
  • Make sure the poster is readable from a distance. The smallest text should be at least 3/8” high. Important points should be in larger type.
  • State your main result in six or seven lines or less, in lettering about 5/8” high.
  • Avoid technical jargon (if possible).
  • Incorporate visual elements (e.g. pictures, photographs, diagrams, figures, tables) when appropriate.


  • Tables: A 6 feet x 2.5 feet table will be provided for your poster. You cannot prop your poster on floor easels or affixing anything to walls/curtains.  Small tabletop easels will also be provided, if needed, but your poster may also be free-standing.
  • Foam Board: For all of the posters to have a uniform appearance, we suggest you mount your poster onto a foam board approximately 3.5′ wide x 2.5′ high and 1/4″ thick. Foam boards are available at the USC Bookstore or art supply stores. To assemble, you may paste individual pages or cutouts onto a poster board, or have a large single poster sheet printed on a wide-format plot printer. Larger size posters may be used, if desired. However, there will be several tables in each exhibit row, with no space between the tables, so the maximum width should be no more than 5′.

Poster printing and poster boards are NOT provided by the event.  You must make arrangements and mount your poster prior to the materials drop off on April 13. Check with your faculty sponsor if your academic department have its own printing services. Otherwise, there are two popular options near campus for poster printing:

  • FedEx Office
    • Locations in the USC Village and on Figueroa Street
    • Order in-person or online.
    • Prices begin at ~$45 for 24″×36″, and ~$87 for 36″×48″
    • Mounting is available for additional charge
  • Leavey Library
    • Large plotter printer located in the basement. Other printing services located on multiple levels
    • Printing cost for the large plotter is $1 per inch (based on the longest side)
    • You must go in-person and ask staff member with access to the printer to assist you
    • No mounting services. Poster board can be purchased separately at the USC Bookstore

Plan ahead as each location will have a turnaround of at least a few hours and up to 24-hours. Academic departments with wide-format printers and Fedex offices are often very busy with poster requests at this time of year, so do not wait until the last minute to print your poster.

Prepare a 5-minute presentation that you can periodically deliver to visitors and judges during exhibition.  Plan to spend the entire session at your poster (11:00 am – 2:00 pm). Handouts or other display items may be used, depending upon your subject matter.

If your poster is a group effort, more than one author should attend the session to aid in the presentations and discussion, and to provide the main presenter with a chance to rest or answer questions individually with those who have detailed questions.