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Creating Scientific Posters: Data and Images

Image Resolution and Print Size

Image resolution is important for both pictures and graphs. Use at least 150 dpi, but no more than 300 dpi. Below 150 dpi and your image will be blurry and unclear; above 300 dpi and you'll have resolution overkill which can also make image blurry or difficult to see. 

Web images usually have poor resolution so be weary about using them on posters. Images may not look bad on your computer, but keep in mind the sheer size difference between your computer screen and your poster. 

If you're using photos, save them as jpg or png for best results. For linear images, like charts and graphs, use png only. 

Image Sources

Make sure to give credit for images by citing them using the same citation style as the rest of your poster.

Charts and Figures Tips

Charts and figures should be simple and large enough to read quickly. These are the visuals that show your audience your work. They should be simple, but draw the attention of your readers. 

There are 3 keys to remember with charts and figures: 

  1. Simple and uncluttered
  2. Labeled
  3. Accuracy of Representation

Your audience needs to be able to easily understand your data and what you're trying to convey with your charts and images. Don't overcomplicate the images. They should be compliments to your text, not replace them. 

Accuracy is crucial when sharing representations of your data. Don't sacrifice accuracy for effect. If Group A results are 25% better than Group B results, don't skew your graphs to make the difference more noticable.


Microsoft Excel has been a standard for creating charts and graphs for most of us for many years. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using Excel to visualize your data. Its simple to use, and simple to customize. Don't stress is that's your go-to and your comfortable with it. The tools listed below are simply other options if you want to test them out. 

RAWGraphs - RAW Graphs is an open source data visualization framework. It makes visually representing your data easy for anyone. To use, simply copy and paste your data into RAW graphs (NOTE: your data remains secure and is only uploaded into your web browser. No one else will be able to see or access your data.) From there, chose one of the numbers visual models available. You can even build your own if you can't find a model that fits your needs. Fine tuning is simple with RAW graphs and tweaking your variables gives you immediate visual feedback. Once you have your visuals the way you like, just download your file and you're ready to add it to your poster.


Tableau Public - Tableau Public is a free service that allows anyone to publish interactive data visualizations online. Once the "vizzies" have been published, they can be embedded or downloaded. 


Palladio - Palladio is a free data tool designed to visualize complex historical data. There are four types of visualizations users can create with Palladio: Map View, Graph View, List View, and Gallery View. Data can be uploaded straight into Palladio in table/spreadsheet form. From there simply customize your chart or graph to meet your needs. 


Canva Graph Maker - Canva is a great tool for any visual needs. Their graph maker is simple to use and your data remains secure and only accessible to you. To start, you select a graph or diagram template, then add your data. You can add images, customize colors, change fonts, etc. When your done, download your graph. Canva is a great tool when you have a small data set and you don't want to spend a bunch of time designing your charts. The templates make imputing data quick and simple.