Font Types and Sizes

Many websites will have suggestions for the font size that should be used for posters, but keep in mind that each of these suggestions are based on a specific poster size. So, generally speaking a good starting point would be to use 24-36pt font, but most importantly… make sure the text fits! Once you have trimmed down the text to only what you need, put all of that text on to your poster and adjust the font size until it all fits well enough in the space you have. Keep in mind, each and every poster is different, so sometimes text will be a bit smaller, and sometimes it will be a bit larger.

Keeping in mind that suggestions are based on a specific poster size, here are a few general size guidelines for your scientific poster.

For the major sections of the poster:

Title: 85pt
Authors: 56pt
Sub-headings: 36pt
Body text: 24pt
Captions: 18pt

As for legibility, the following sizes are a good starting point:

To be legible 6 feet use 30 pt.
To be legible 10 feet use 48 pt.
To be legible 12 feet use 60 pt.
To be legible 14 feet use 72 pt.

You will have to adjust the font size depending on the amount of text in your poster and the style of font you choose. Below are suggestions for types of fonts and sizes. These are only suggestions. Many more fonts are available that may work equally as well.

For the title, make the font size between 72-120 points (or 36-60 points if designing your poster at half size.) Consider using a large, bold san-serif type font, such as: Arial Black, Franklin Gothic Heavy, Tahoma (bolded), Trebuchet (bolded).

Be sure to bold the title text when using Tahoma or Trebuchet but DO NOT bold the title text when using Arial Black or Franklin Gothic Heavy as these fonts are already bolded, thus the "Black" and "Heavy" in their names. If you bold them more the letters will be so close together they'll almost touch each other making them harder to read.

Many venues require that the text for your title be 1 inch tall. To do that, use the Arial font bolded at 100 point size and the text will print at 1 inch tall. If you are designing your title in PowerPoint at half size (50% of the final output size) you'll need to set the font size to 50 points. The font size will be doubled when we print out the title at 200%.

For the subtitle (author's names and institution name), make the font size smaller than the title, between 48-80 points (or 24-40 points if designing your poster at half size.) You can use the same font as your title or choose a different font. If the subtitle is the same font as the title, consider making the title and subtitle different colors. Your goal should be to make the title standout.

For the section headers, (Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions, etc.), make the font size approximately 50% larger than the body text, between 36-72 points (or 18-36 points if designing your poster at half size.) Use the same font as your title or subtitle.

Finally, for the body text, make the font size between 24-48 points (or 12-24 points if designing your poster at half size.) Choose a serif type font that's very readable, such as: Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, Garamond, Georgia, Palatino Linotype.

Be sure to keep the body text font size the same throughout the entire poster. The only exception might be an abstract section at the beginning of the poster or references at the end which could be smaller.

Remember that if you are designing your poster at half size, (ie: 18" x 30" for a 36" x 60" poster) cut all these point size suggestions in half. Please use these font types and sizes as a guide to aid your poster layout.

If you have some additional space available, before you increase the font size consider adding additional line and paragraph spacing. This can make your text more readable and is a good way to fit the column length to the poster layout.