How to Set Up a Display Board

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Display boards are a staple at conferences, as well as in academic and business settings. Although modern visual display tools like PowerPoint are also useful tools, display boards still have a function at these events. They can be stand-alone items if you need to leave your display. They also allow you to show your work to conference visitors or in business settings without having to rely completely on technology. Finally, because the presentation is smaller than it would be with a large overhead presentation, you can connect with people on a more personal level.

  • Pencils
  • Drawing paper
  • Camera and accessories
  • Foam display board
  • Colored duct tape
  • Computer
  • Graphics program
  • Printer
  • Rubber cement
  • Bound version of your research

1 Draw preliminary sketches

Draw preliminary sketches of the board you’d like to create for your display. Arrange the order of the information you’d like to convey. Not only will this step give you a sense of the flow of your work, but you’ll also begin to develop an idea of the photos, illustrations and other visual materials you’ll need to include on the board.

2 Create illustrations based on your sketches your research

Create illustrations based on your sketches your research. For example, if you’re illustrating scientific research on proteins, you may want to include an illustration of a type of protein you’ve been working with.

3 Take any photos

Take any photos you need to further illustrate a concept or subject you’re studying and print them.

4 Tape your display board together

Tape your display board together at the back with colored duct tape. Use foam board for your display if you have that option; it’s sturdy but light-weight.

5 Print a title card for your display board

Print a title card for your display board. You’ll place this front and center on your board. If you have a tri-fold board, paste the title card on the center board with rubber cement.

6 Write or print your fundamental question on paper and glue

Write or print your fundamental question on paper and glue it below your title.

7 Print out and glue on headings

Print out and glue on headings. For example, in a scientific research display you may use terms like “Problem” or “Hypothesis” as headings. Glue on visual elements such as charts, illustrations and photos, under the headings starting from left to right. Use your preliminary sketch as a guide to the layout.

8 Bind any research

Bind any research you’ve done on the topic. Place this near your display board.

  • Don't try to recreate your research in its entirety on your board. Instead, include the highlights. The purpose of creating a display board is to illustrate your main points and give you an opportunity to talk face to face with people who are interested in your ideas.
  • Use colored headings if you want to provide a distinct visual separation for each. Take advantage of the fonts available in programs like Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign. These offer a variety of letter styles, as well as the ability to create different letter sizes.

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.