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Creating an Academic Poster: Tips and Tricks

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Graphs, Charts, and Images

Illustrations such as graphs, charts, and images can help explain complex information or data while providing visual breaks between text, keeping readers engaged. 

  • Find ways to demonstrate your research visually--use charts or graphs to explain complex information
  • If using images from the internet, search websites containing royalty free images that display a Creative Commons license (see below for suggestions).
  • Always give credit to the original creator of an image, cited in your required citation style.
  • Don't use too many images (think 60% text, 40% graphics as a guideline) and be sure only to include images relevant to the poster content (otherwise they will distract from it).


Example academic poster template

Example academic conference poster template

Raster and Vector Graphics

Raster images (.bmp, .jpg, .png, .gif, .tif, etc.) are based on a grid of pixels. If a raster graphic is enlarged, eventually it will begin to look pixelated (see example below).

Tip: If using a raster image, use a large enough file size (resolution) so that the image will not look pixelated when resized.

Vector images (.ai, .eps, .svg, and some .pdf) are drawn by a computer from a mathematical formula. This means that no matter how much a vector image is resized, it will scale properly and not pixelate. 

Tip: raster images work best for photographs, while vector images work best for graphics with flat areas of colour (e.g. logos).


Examples: Raster and Vector Images

Raster and vector image examples

Tools for Finding Images

Remember that you need to cite any work created by others, including images, even if they are in the public domain. For information and examples of image citation in three different citation styles, see this guide from SFU Library.

Below are some suggested websites with searchable images. For each image you use, remember to check for a license stating that image can be freely used, then cite the image. 


Unsplash: Freely usable images searchable by keyword

Pixabay: Free images and royalty-free stock images searchable by keyword

The Noun Project: Graphic icons, many can be freely used. Note: Must first create an account.

Google Images: Do a search, then choose: Tools (button)-->Usage Rights (drop down menu)-->"Creative Commons licenses"

Wikimedia Commons: Free media repository

Rijksmuseum Rijksstudio: Art historical images


TRU Official Logos: Choosing the .PNG format is recommended, the file is large enough to display on your poster without pixelating. Note: You do not need to cite the TRU Logo if you are a TRU student, faculty, or staff.


Example image license statements: Look for something like these so you know you are allowed to use an image freely. 

Image license examples