I have the opportunity to prepare a research poster for a non-mathematical, yet scientifically savvy audience, and I want to do it well. I have asked a few mathematicians, and I have heard the following sound advice:

  • Use interesting graphics.
  • Elaborate on possible applications to other scientific fields.

Although easier for applied mathematicians, this will be ok as I study subfactors, which have connections to quantum physics and statistical mechanics, and planar algebras, which provide great graphics. But there are practical questions as well:

  • How can I use LaTeX to make a poster?
  • How can I avoid using mathematical symbols and technical language?

What makes a good math research poster? What are some good ways to target a non-mathematical audience? Does anyone have examples and/or templates using LaTeX? What other advice would you give a mathematician who has never made a research poster before?

A few asides:

  • I'm not sure if this is community wiki. I'm more than happy to click the box if requested.
  • Feel free to retag this question as you see fit.
  • I will answer my own question after the poster presentation, and I will have all of my materials available online.
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    $\begingroup$ I hope whoever gave this a vote-to-close would be so kind as to comment why. I think this question is very appropriate: it is very specific to professional mathematicians. $\endgroup$ – Theo Johnson-Freyd Apr 15 '10 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ I think I'm going to hit this with the wiki hammer. My reasoning is that the question doesn't have mathematical content, is somewhat subjective, and feels a bit like a poll question. If anybody has an opinion they'd like to share about when questions should be CW, please join the discussion at tea.mathoverflow.net/discussion/6/when-should-questions-be-community-wiki. The vote to close was meant sort of as a vote to wiki (I know this by private email). Please don't vote to close for this reason: either leave a comment or flag for moderator attention. $\endgroup$ – Anton Geraschenko Apr 15 '10 at 5:51

For technical question 1 I would recommend beamerposter.

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    $\begingroup$ Beamer is also very compatible with TikZ. Hopefully Beamerposter is just as compatible. If you use TikZ for your graphics (as you should!) then it should be easy to transfer them poster format. $\endgroup$ – Chris Schommer-Pries Apr 15 '10 at 0:20
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, beamer, on top of which beamerposter was written, was written by the same guy who wrote TikZ. $\endgroup$ – Theo Johnson-Freyd Apr 15 '10 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ Till Tantau rules! $\endgroup$ – babubba Apr 15 '10 at 6:49

You should seriously consider using Adobe Illustrator if you can get your hands on it. I'm all for latex + beamer for talks, but you might end up waste far too much time on the formatting if you try to use latex. If you do this, you'll need to copy in your equations (as pdf with outlined fonts) created with some tool like LaTeXit (for Mac) or otherwise some equivalent. On the plus side, the added cost of putting in math will help you focus on the graphical content.


I agree, somewhat, with Jon Yard. Make individual "pages" with LaTeX and/or beamer. Save the pages as pdf, and arrange using Illustrator. You can preassign the page size in illustrator, and take the file to Kinkos to have it made. Or find out where the cool color copier is in the chemistry, biology, physics, or administrative department is. The cool copier will render a single page glossy poster.

Since the author of the question has very cool graphics of his work, many of which work better in color, these should be included.

If you don't want to use beamer, you can import eps files (and I think, pdf) into xfig. I have seen amazing xfig posters.


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