Bass Connections Poster Guidance

Posters due April 10.

The third annual Bass Connections Showcase was on April 17, 2019 and featured a poster session in addition to talks, awards and a reception. We will update the guidance below for the fourth annual Bass Connections Showcase in April 2020.

Frequently asked questions:

Submission and Deadlines

  • Send a PDF of your poster to Sarah Dwyer ( by Wednesday, April 10 at 11:59 p.m. so she can enter it into the poster competition, list it on the Bass Connections Showcase program and print it for display at the Showcase.
  • EHD teams, submit your posters to Amy Finnegan ( by April 5, 5:00 p.m. She will print them and bring them to both events.
  • If your file is too large to email, contact Sarah; she will send you a Box link.
  • If your team has more than one poster, contact Sarah. There is a limited amount of display space at the Showcase, and we may have to limit the number of posters per team.

Helpful Resources

Guidance for Creating Your Poster

This is your team’s opportunity to share its work with the Duke community and beyond. Because the attendees are a highly diverse group, spend ample time thinking about how to reach people who are not specialists in your field.

As a team, discuss what you want to convey. What is the most important point? What do you want people to know? What can you leave out? How will you tell an effective story?


  • Download the Bass Connections poster template, and select the PowerPoint template slide appropriate for your theme (download PPT file). If you need more space at the top for authors or other logos, feel free to delete the text identifying your theme at the right.
  • EHD teams can use the template above or the template provided by Amy Finnegan.
  • If you have a good reason to use a different template, that’s fine, but make sure to add the Bass Connections logo.


  • The final size of your poster should be 36 inches tall by 48 inches wide (the template is already sized this way).
  • To double-check the size, go to the Design tab in PowerPoint, click on Slide Size and then Page Setup.


  • Keep the design simple, with plenty of blank space to make it easier for people to read your poster in a busy setting.
  • Use images (photos, graphics, charts) to illustrate your points. Make sure you have gotten verbal or written consent from any people shown in your photos. Include image credits where necessary.
  • Try to use images that are at least 300 dpi or vector-based so that they do not become distorted when enlarged. A quick way to check whether photos and graphics will become distorted is to zoom in to view the poster on your screen at 400%. Everything should look crisp and clear.
  • Use headings to break up the sections of your poster (recommended font size for headings is 48, bold).
  • Think creatively about how to organize your information. Traditionally, many posters include sections on Introduction, Methods and Data, Results, Conclusion, Next Steps, Acknowledgements; however, these sections are not required, and your poster should reflect your unique project team (for example, an infographic may be more appropriate).
  • Use a font size of 36 to 40 for the main text. Print it out on a regular 8.5x11 sheet of paper and hold it at arm’s length to make sure it’s readable at that distance.
  • Avoid too much text, big blocks of text, small fonts, confusing graphics that are unlabeled or have hard-to-read labels and too many different colors or fonts.
  • Use simple charts and graphs. Avoid effects such as 3-D shapes, drop shadows and gradients, because they can distort the data.
  • Try to use the same color for all data points and then use a different color to accent an important piece of data. Don’t use colors that are too bright or clash with the background of a presentation or publication.
  • Most importantly, use your data to tell a story. Keep in mind the variables in your data that are most exciting, whether it be zeroing in on a time period or population segment. Find a way to highlight these.
  • Make sure your poster has a clear title, and include the project team name somewhere on the poster.



What Worked Well

What Would Make It Better

Addressing Global Health Needs among Refugee Children and Families in Durham

Well organized, clear objective, accessible language

Reduce amount of text, use fragments rather than full sentences, make text larger, replace some text with graphics to tell story

Blue Devil Resistome Project

Clear organization, accessible language, good balance of text and graphics

Use fragments rather than full sentences, rework graphic of six charts for greater clarity

Cervical Cancer Care in Peru

Easy to view and read, doesn’t try to include too much information

Clarify problem statement and research question, use less space for background section

ART Adherence and Social Network Structure and Function among HIV-Infected Women in Cape Town

Well organized, clear presentation

Revise results section to convey findings more clearly at a glance (perhaps through a graphic), use fragments rather than full sentences, make text larger, use less space for literature cited

Supports and Barriers to Community-based Care for Children with Disabilities in Uganda

Effective use of quotes to convey perspectives and show human side of research

Reduce amount of text, use fragments rather than full sentences,

Impact of Catholic Ministries on Student Human Development

Easy to understand, doesn’t try to include too much, clear presentation

Increase size of graphics for greater clarity

Creative Industries and the Urban Environment

Visually appealing, clear research question, intriguing graphics

Create more breathing room, minimize space used for authors, add summary and next steps

What’s in a Face?

Effective use of graphics, clear organization

Remove background graphic to improve visual clarity, use fragments rather than full sentences

Proposed Retrofit of Duke University Dormitory

Good balance of text and graphics

Make selected graphics larger and delete others, use fragments rather than full sentences, make text larger

Examining Tracking and Students’ Perceptions of Teachers as Predictors of Academic Identity

Effective use of quotes to convey human side of research, clear organization, appealing graphics

Reduce amount of text, create more breathing room, use more formatting of text (such as bold or colored) to increase clarity

Before Finalizing

Ask your team leaders and/or project manager to review your draft poster and help improve it.

Poster Competition

The Bass Connections Showcase includes a poster competition. There will be two winning posters, one selected by judges in advance (Judges’ Selection) and the other determined by audience members at the Bass Connections Showcase (Audience Choice). There will be three runners-up in each category.


Posters submitted to Sarah Dwyer in electronic form by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, will be eligible for the Judges’ Selection. All posters displayed at the Bass Connections Showcase will be eligible for the Audience Choice.

Judges’ Selection

Judging for this prize begins on April 11 and concludes on April 15. This year’s judges consist of selected Directors of Academic Engagement (DAEs), Bass Connections/Interdisciplinary Studies staff, Bass Connections Student Advisory Council members and communicators from Duke’s university-wide institutes and initiatives. Judges will review digital files of posters and apply the following criteria on a 1-5 scale:

Clear Presentation/Articulation of Project


Visual Appeal/Organization

The poster clearly conveys the purpose or goals of the project.

The poster clearly presents the ways in which the project or question was approached.

The information conveyed through the poster is accessible to a broad audience.

The photos, images, charts and/or graphs support the understanding of the project.

The poster is visually appealing and well-organized.

1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neutral, 4=agree, 5=strongly agree


  • $200 gift card for the winning poster in the Judges’ Selection category
  • $200 gift card for the winning poster in the Audience Choice category

Get Ready to Present Your Poster

  • Coordinate with your team members and determine who will be on hand to present the poster at which times.
  • Practice a short verbal explanation of your research. Your poster will serve as a visual aid, but an important part of a poster session is the person-to-person sharing of information. Remember that you want to reach a broad audience of nonspecialists. Avoid acronyms and jargon. Make it clear why your work matters.

During the Showcase

  • Be proactive and ask people who are passing by if they would like to hear about your work.
  • Use your poster as a visual aid and briefly describe the problem your team investigated, what you did to address that problem, what you learned and why it matters.
  • Take some time to walk around, explore other posters and ask questions.

At the End

  • If you are in Penn Pavilion at 6:00, please take your poster with you.
  • Otherwise, pick up your poster in Allen 216 starting on April 19. The office is open between 9:00 and 5:00 on weekdays.


Please contact Sarah Dwyer (, 919-684-5379).