Creating a science conference poster with Inkscape

Update (Sep 2021): There is now an updated version of this blog post with more recent advice on how I would design a poster today. Make sure to check it out if this post appeals to you!

First things first

This poster design is heavily based on the poster template provided by Felix Breuer. Many thanks to him for creating such a beautiful and unusual poster from scratch, and even publishing the template for others to use. Accordingly, this modification is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License as well, which means that you are free to use and modify this template in any fashion you would like, as long as you give credit to the original authors and publish your modification as a template, too.

Our poster

This poster was created during a MSc level physics course on climate at Heidelberg University as final project. We were given a paper (that we are in no way affiliated with) from climate research and told to create a poster that would be well-suited to represent the contents of the paper at a conference. Our goal was to create a poster that stands out in the mass of standard, blocky posters that physicists tend to create. Additionally, we wanted the poster layout to tell a story, so you would not have to read the whole poster to understand what was going on - we wanted the plots and figures and some short summary to convey the most important ideas at a glance.

Inkscape seemed to be the perfect tool for this task, since it is free, has powerful vector tools, and is based on visuals rather than code. So, this is what we came up with: Our poster, created in InkScape

(you can download the SVG version of the poster below)

Design choices

We took over most of the basic ideas from Felix Breuer’s poster. However, his poster was clearly a math poster: little text, many formulae, rather sketches and drawings than plots. The design he chose fitted the ‘math style’ exceptionally well, but did not really seem suitable for a poster from environmental physics, since we had completely different requirements. So we made the following changes to the original design:


Following Felix Breuer’s suggestion, we exported the poster as a 500-dpi png (i.e., raster image), and printing worked like a charm, although the resulting image was about 40 MB large. Later, we also tried to export the poster as pdf using inkscape’s export function, and this seemed to work well, too. Text turned out to be crisp, and all vector plots printed very well - only the QR code and two of the plots, which we did not have in vectorized form, turned out a little blurry, so make sure you get your hands on vectorized versions of anything you want to include.


Creating our poster in inkscape was highly rewarding and a lot of fun, even though we had never used the program before. I honestly don’t think that the poster creation would have been much faster using LaTeX or any other common tool, and the result would definitely have been more boring. We are pretty happy with the result, and it received positive criticism during our private poster session - everyone agreed, that they were immediately curious to read the poster, just by having a glance at the unusual design.

Download the poster template

Inkscape SVG file

Make sure to use right click - Save Link As.. and open the file in inkscape instead of viewing it in your browser, where it will probably not render correctly.