A fancy design program is not necessary to create an eye-catching research poster. Any of the options below can be used to create a great poster.
Free programs (or free access for UNLV students, faculty, and staff)
Apache OpenOffice is a free and open-source suite of programs that includes a presentation making program called Impress which can be used to create a poster. OpenOffice can be used on Windows or Mac and has similar functionality to Microsoft Office. Click the Apache OpenOffice link above to learn more about these programs and to download.
Canva is free for use but does have some restrictions since there is also a paid version. You must create a free account to use it. Canva has many options for designing a poster and includes free images and graphics. It also has an option to download as a PDF which is convenient if you are planning on printing your poster.
Google Slides is available to all UNLV students, faculty, and staff as a part of their Rebel Mail account. It is another presentation program similar to PowerPoint and with much of the same functionality. You can use Google Slides to create a great digital poster, however, for printing, another program might be better as posters made with Google Slides can tend to come out a bit blurry once printed.
You can use all the Office365 programs including PowerPoint for free by signing up with your Rebel Mail account. Click the PowerPoint link above to be redirected to UNLV's Office of Information Technology page with instructions on how to get Office365. PowerPoint is also installed in computer labs across campus and on all computers at the Lied Library. PowerPoint is very commonly used for the design of research posters. Many people are very familiar with its elements and it allows you to easily add charts, images, and graphics.
One-time payment programs
Microsoft Publisher is a program used to create document layouts and can be an option for creating a research poster. It is available to use for free at Lied Library. However, you can also purchase this program for a one-time fee either as a part of an Office365 bundle or as standalone software.
Adobe InDesign is used to make all kinds of printed materials including posters. You can use Adobe InDesign for free at Lied Library computers. You can also purchase it through a monthly subscription as part of Adobe Creative Cloud. Check the UNLV Office of Information Technology website for discounts on purchasing Adobe Creative Cloud through Kivuto.
This video tutorial is an excellent short introduction to design tips for creating your research poster.
You can follow along with these tips, but also don't forget that a research poster is a chance to show off both your understanding of the subject matter as well as your creativity.
The links below can be a good place to get some inspiration for designing a research poster. Decide for yourself whether you like or dislike some of the examples that you might find.