Bass Connections Poster Guidance

The 2024 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase will be on Wednesday, April 17, from 3:30-6 p.m. in Penn Pavilion. This event provides Bass Connections project teams with the opportunity to share the outcomes of their research with a broad, interdisciplinary audience.

All teams are expected to participate in the showcase by presenting either a poster or an interactive display. Teams must register for the showcase by March 8. Please read our detailed showcase guidance to learn more about the expectations for showcase participants, the showcase schedule and the interactive display option.

If your team plans to present a poster, please consult the poster guidance below to learn more about poster submission, deadlines, awards and expectations for the day of the showcase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Submission and Deadlines

  • Please submit your poster using this online form by Wednesday, April 10 at 5 p.m. for display at the showcase and consideration in this year’s poster competition. We will print your poster, enter it into the poster competition, list it on the showcase program and hang it in Penn Pavilion on the day of the showcase.
  • If you miss the April 10 deadline for judging and showcase printing but would still like us to share your poster on the Bass Connections website, you can submit your poster using the same online form by May 4.
  • Please note that, due to space limitations, teams may only submit one poster for printing and display at the showcase. However, teams may submit more than one poster for consideration in the poster competition and display on our website. If your team chooses to submit more than one poster, you must complete the online form for each poster submission, and you must note on the form which poster your team wants printed for the showcase.

During the Showcase

When you arrive at the showcase, please pick up a program at the door and find your poster using the numbers printed on the program. Students should coordinate with their fellow team members to take turns standing by and discussing their poster with showcase guests.

  • Be prepared to talk with showcase visitors who are interested in your work.
  • Use your poster as a visual aid to briefly describe your research questions, methods, findings and next steps.
  • Take time to walk around and explore other teams’ posters and ask questions.
  • Once the showcase concludes, please take your poster with you. Any posters left behind will be recycled.

Helpful Resources

Guidance for Creating Your Poster

This is your opportunity to share your team’s work with the Duke community and beyond. Research posters can help you summarize your team’s research in a concise and eye-catching way and are meant to generate discussion. Posters should include short text, tables, graphs, images and/or QR codes that lead to more detailed research findings.

Before You Start

  • As a team, discuss what you want to communicate. What is the most important, interesting or surprising finding from your year(s) of research? What do you want people to know? What can you leave out? How can you tell an effective story about your research question and findings?
  • Work together as a team to sketch out ideas using things like sticky notes or a whiteboard before you start staging your poster in PowerPoint. This will give you flexibility to try different formats and move things around.
  • If your team plans to divide up the work of poster creation, set aside time in advance to integrate poster content into a coherent whole. Consider creating a style guide for your poster in advance or selecting a team member or two to integrate separately created content before submission and serve as final copy editors.
  • Select an individual in advance to submit your team’s poster using our online form by April 10 at 5 p.m.


  • Please consider using this Bass Connections poster template and select the slide appropriate for your theme (download .pptx file).
  • If you choose to use a different template, please make sure to add the Bass Connections logo. This is required.

Poster Size

  • Research posters are typically 36 inches tall by 48 inches wide (the template is already sized this way). All posters printed for the showcase must be this size.
  • To double-check the size of your poster in PowerPoint, go to the Design tab, click on Slide Size and then Page Setup.

Design Tips

Keep your design simple and tell a single story
  • Tell a single short story through your poster rather than trying to capture the entirety of your research project.
  • Make sure your poster has a clear and descriptive title. The title does not need to be (and in most cases should not be) your project team name.
  • Make your motivations and takeaways obvious. Don’t hide your story in lots of small text. A compelling and obvious story will draw people in and invite them to ask for more details.
  • Use large, descriptive headings to break up sections of your poster. Consider using active statements that tell your story rather than standard headings like introduction, methods, conclusion, etc.
  • Avoid big blocks of text and small fonts. Try to keep the total text to 300-500 words and limit each line of text to 45-75 characters. Try aligning text to the left (rather than centering or justifying) to make it easier to read.
  • Choose bullet points over block text when you can. The goal should be punchy statements (not paragraphs!) whenever possible.
  • Limit text by using diagrams, images and data visualizations to tell parts of your story.
  • Incorporate white space to avoid overcrowding and create clear groupings and information flow.
  • Use high resolution images and simple graphics to illustrate your points. Include credits and captions where necessary, and make sure images won’t be distorted or grainy when enlarged. (Check this by zooming in to view your poster at 400% to make sure everything looks crisp and clear.)
  • Use color to emphasize important conclusions or to draw contrast between different thematic areas or sections of your poster. (For example, try using the same color for all data points and then a different color to accent an important piece of data or a conclusion.)
Don’t be afraid to be creative
  • Your poster should reflect your unique project team. Think creatively about how to organize and present your information. (For example, consider whether an infographic may be more appropriate than a traditional research poster layout.)
  • Use your data to tell a story. Highlight the most compelling, significant and/or surprising data, but do not try to include all of your data.
Seek feedback
  • Before you finalize your poster, show it to as many people as you can (including your team leaders and project manager) and leave time for incorporating their feedback.
  • Schedule a virtual poster consultation with Eric Monson by emailing

Poster Examples Improved Through Feedback and Revision

Draft Poster Revised Poster Revisions Included
Before After

Left-aligned and larger title, clear colorful headers that motivate and tell the story from far away, removed distracting header rectangles, strategic use of color to create contrast and emphasize conclusions, larger important diagram, less prominent acknowledgments and references sections, methods associated with appropriate figures

Before After Larger, more descriptive headings, takeaway still emphasized but now not dominating other important elements, added motivating statement, alternative arrangement of information tells a coherent and compelling story, clearer headings on larger visualizations, strategic use of color to emphasize conclusions, addition of QR code for more information

Additional Examples


What Worked Well

What Would Make It Better

Big Data for Reproductive Health

Ample white space, limited color palette, clear statement of problem, easy-to-scan text

Create more room for main graphic, delete too-small graphics at bottom

Rite of Passage: Determining Elephant-mediated Seed Shadows from Ground-truth Gut Passage Data

Intriguing images and graphics, clear statement of problem, minimal text Improve clarity of results section, make references and acknowledgments section smaller, delete confusing background image

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, left-justify text

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

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 white space, 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

Poster Competition

Through poster presentations, students can practice communicating complex ideas, methods and outcomes, thereby expanding the reach and impact of their research. Bass Connections will recognize teams’ efforts to communicate their research through the Bass Connections Poster Competition, which includes an award for best poster as chosen in advance by a panel of judges. The winner will be selected from three finalists.


Only those posters submitted through our online form by Wednesday, April 10 at 5 p.m. will be eligible for the poster competition.

Award Selection

Judges will consist of alumni who participated in Bass Connections, selected Bass Connections and Interdisciplinary Studies staff, members of the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council 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


Please contact Meghan O'Neil.