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Have you ever considered illustrating your research? Maybe you think illustrations are solely for children's books or nonfiction - this blog will make you think again. Illustrations make your research concepts easier to understand and add allure and interest to your work, making it more attractive to readers – whether presenting at a conference, presenting a research poster, promoting a new book or paper online, and more. This blog covers three main reasons why you should consider illustrating your work.

Improve readers understanding of key concepts

Think of your day-to-day experiences where images aid your comprehension – I bet you couldn't imagine putting together a furniture flatpack together without diagrams? The fact is the diagrams are much easier to absorb than a heap of text. In the same way, an illustration can capture the essence of your work and make it easier to comprehend and more memorable for your readers.

For example, I have won the prize of the best finance presenter at a conference – whereby the majority of my presentation focused on the illustration shown above. It demonstrated the objective of banking regulators to build the resilience of banks to bouts of financial instability and set the scene very well for my empirical analysis – bridging the gap between law and financial analysis.

Below are illustrations I drew for a book that focused on the importance of economic history for economists – after just reading a blurb on the book I came up with putting the spin on the classic tale of A Christmas Carol! The illustrations served to provide an overview of the book's objective. In addition, they had the power to engage audiences from various backgrounds when used to promote the book online.

Enhance the aesthetic value of your work

Illustrations add aesthetic value to your text. If publishing a book – your book cover is the most important marketing tool you have. So why not consider using some of your publishing grant towards a unique illustration. A generic stock picture may not adequately represent your research field. A personalised illustration depicting your work is much more likely to strike a core with potential readers. Below is an example of an illustration I created for a book cover. Even the simple professional illustration makes the book cover more eye-catching, don't you think?

Attract attention

This is one of the main advantages of illustrations. A poster or a book page with an image is more eye-catching than a page with only text. Below are examples of illustrations used as the logo for research projects – these logo-type illustrations served as social media profile pictures, formed part of the project's website, included in conference slides, profile picture for podcast and were featured in newspaper reports on the projects. In addition, the illustrations enticed readers to learn more about the projects and helped to reach out to non-academic audiences.

Think your research would benefit from an illustration tailored to your research than please get in touch! I’ve worked with academics from various disciplines around the globe to help them illustrate their research by simply having a chat with them or reading a blurb about their work. I am then able to develop their work into a piece of art. Academics are always shocked at how little time and handholding I take to get the illustration perfect.

What are CBDCs?

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDCs) are essentially a digital equivalent of banknotes and coins (hence the 1s and 0s in the illustration). Their design will probably be like existing online payment platforms, but money held on CBDC app will be a deposit at the central bank (not a commercial bank intermediary). Therefore, money held as CBDC is safer or deemed ‘risk-free’ as your deposits at commercial banks are only insured by governments up to a certain point if the commercial bank fails.

So why are Central Banks going digital?

Central banks interest in CBDCs has gained momentum recently due to several factors. Most notably, the prominence of volatile cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the introduction of payment services by big tech firms like Facebook’s Diem. The rise of these alternative payment methods means Central Banks lose their control of the money supply and financial stability. With CBDCs, central banks can claw back some of their territory, and people would be able to keep some of their money in official safer CBDC accounts.

Is it the end of banknotes and coins?

China has started large scale trials of ‘e-yuan’ with the EU, UK and US, all investigating the issuance of their own e-currencies. For the near future, central banks will continue to supply banknotes and coins alongside their e-currency. Not everyone will be willing to give up hard cash or be able to work smartphones. So maybe ‘The Professors’ plans are safe for now!

Would you like a illustration for your research story? Yes! Than please get in touch .

The process couldn't be easier to convert your project into an art masterpiece. We can share a coffee (virtually or in person) while I learn about your work - then I am good to go on working on your illustration.

A few years ago, I won the ‘Best for Creativity’ award at the Queen’s University Belfast Graduate Poster Competition. I have since helped many academics with their posters by designing the custom-made illustration for their research. I know how daunting it can be putting a research poster together – but don’t’ worry, this blog has you covered.

This Blog covers:

Why you should submit to a poster conference!

Posters are widely used in the academic sphere and now feature more and more at conferences. Research posters summaries your work concisely and engagingly –exactly like an abstract does. Typically, at a conference, the researcher (you) will stand by the poster display. At the same time, other participants view the posters and interact with the researchers. Interacting with other participants is a great way to make contacts in your field, get some feedback and practice your elevator pitch.

So How Do You Make Your Poster Stand Out? Think Visual!

An academic poster is usually a mix of text and visual aids like tables, graphs and pictures. To make your poster a hit – keep the text to a minimum and think of how to tell your research story visually. We are hard-wired to love visual information and absorb it a lot faster than large amounts of text (think of how popular platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok are). Visuals are eye-catching and will draw in the other participants at the conference to enquire more about your work. Visuals make it easy to understand complex information without having to scroll through heaps of text and look up the meaning of obscure jargon.

It is important to use appropriate visualisation to depict your research story. Here are some ideas:

Flow Charts

Flow diagrams show a multi-step process or series of conditional outcomes. They are a great way to walk conference participants through your methodology process. Flow charts can easily be created in MS Word.

Bar and Line Charts

These types of charts are a great way of showing trends over time, as shown in my poster below which shows bank risk over time. You can create your charts in MS Excel and import to PowerPoint when creating your poster.


Infographics strike the right balance between cool and professional. PowerPoint even has some templates you can look at when open up the app. Infographics can communicate complex analytics, statistics and help create an engaging story.

You can use tools like Canva and Piktochart to help you quickly create an awesome story from your data.


Including relevant memorable images is a great way to send a powerful message and entice the audience to learn more about your work. You could even use a series of photographs to break down a complex idea. Try stay away from stock images as they are generic. Maybe take a picture of your lab with an experiment running.


There are many creative routes you can go down when designing your poster. I hope to provide you with some suggestions and get your creative juices flowing.

Poster Setup on PowerPoint

  • Your poster will be created as ONE slide on PowerPoint.

  • Under ‘Custom’, select your width and height. The standard size for PRINT academic posters is 48 inches wide by 36 inches tall. Be sure to select ‘Ensure Fit’ to avoid lost information.

  • The title should be approximately the entire width of the poster with the main text broken into multiple columns, usually three to four. Like in my poster should above use section headings to make poster easier to read.

Some design tips to remember when creating your poster:

  • Title should be short and snazzy – you want it to grab participants attention at the conference.

  • Word count is between 500-800 words. YES, you read that right! Remember your poster is just like an abstract.

  • Like an abstract include things like the projects’ topic, scope, thesis, methodology results, conclusions and references.

  • Use bullets, numbering and headings to make it easy to read.

  • Include relevant visuals like discussed above.

  • Maintain good contrast between the background colour and text.

  • Be sure to include your name, co-authors, academic program, and University. Double check the conference website for specific guidelines.

  • Send your draft poster to academic supervisor for feedback before submitting to conference and getting it printed.

Just a few extra points regarding graphics and text…

  • Make sure your image is of suitable quality (around 150 dpi).

  • To adjust image once inserted in PowerPoint and retain image proportions, hold the shift key on your keyboard, click and drag the corners to scale.

  • Use a font that works across platforms. I recommend sticking with fonts like Times New Roman and Arial.

  • Make sure you are consistent with the text in poster – all the headers should be the same size and use the same font throughout the body of the poster.

  • Write your text in Word first that copy and paste it over. It is easier to spot mistakes in Word.

Font size guidelines by section:

  • Title: 72-120 pt.

  • Subtitle: 48-80 pt.

  • Section headers: 36-72 pt.

  • Body text: 24-48 pt.

Would you like help with your poster? Why not commission me to create an illustration specific to your work – like the academics did for their posters below. The process could not be simpler – we would just share a cup of coffee (virtually or in person). By the time you have sipped your last drop of coffee, I will have gotten the essence of your research and can work my magic in coming up with the perfect illustration. Please get in touch if you have any queries.

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