Write Your Project Title & Abstract

Title and Abstract Requirements

Each project presented at the symposium must have a project title and abstract. For film, performance, and art submissions, students can choose to include an artist’s statement instead of an abstract.

All project titles should be in title case (have the first letter of each word capitalized unless the word is an article, preposition, or coordinating conjunction) and should generally be shorter than 20 words. Abstracts are limited to 125 words. Abstracts and titles will be published in the online abstract book, so be sure to proofread them thoroughly!

View examples of abstracts from past years.

Abstract-Writing Resources

We strongly encourage you to visit The Writing Center as you write and edit your abstract. The Writing Center can help you improve your abstract’s structure, make your abstract more compelling and accessible to audiences outside of your field, and provide grammar and wording advice.

View the Writing Center’s abstract-writing tips.

Mentor Information

A mentor or sponsor is a UW–Madison professor, academic staff member, or graduate student who will advise you on your presentation. This will usually be the person who taught the class in which you originally engaged in the work or who supervises your independent study, thesis, or project.

Your mentor will help you organize your work into a project format. Students should maintain an open and consistent line of communication with their mentor throughout the process of preparing for and presenting at the symposium.

Mentor Approval Form

All titles and abstracts must be proofread and approved by your mentor before you submit your application. We encourage you to schedule a time to complete the mentor approval form with your mentor before the application deadline.

Choose a Presentation Format

You can choose one of the following four formats to present your project at the symposium. You also can decide to present individually or with a project team. Students are not permitted to present more than one individual project or two group projects.

Poster Presentation

Participants who choose to share a poster at the Undergraduate Symposium will print their posters in the weeks leading up to the event and pin them up in Varsity Hall (Union South, floor 2) during their assigned session. Participants stand by their posters and share their project with symposium attendees.

Film or Performance

Films and performances are typically 10-15 minutes long and are followed by a short Q&A period. If your film or performance will be longer than 15 minutes or will require special arrangements, please contact

5- and 10-Minute Talks

Participants who elect to share a talk will prepare either a 5- or 10-minute-long presentation in the weeks leading up to the event. Many students choose to use slides or other presentation materials, but this is not required.

During their assigned sessions, presenters will join a group of other participants in a presentation room and each share their 5- and 10-minute presentations. A moderator will be present to facilitate the session. 10-minute presentations will be immediately followed by a short Q&A period. 5-minute presentations have a Q&A period at the end of the session.

Artist Talk

Artist talks are typically 5-10 minutes long and are followed by a 5-minute Q&A session. Contact with any questions or to make special arrangements for your presentation.

Design Your Presentation


It can be easy to overcrowd posters. Strive to make information scannable using visuals, bolded headings, and bulleted or numbered lists. We encourage you to start your poster-design process by mapping out your poster’s structure and considering how it directs your audience’s attention.

Posters must:

  • Be 43” wide by 36” high.
  • Include your mentor’s name.
  • Include the official UW crest beside the title or in the acknowledgements. Print logos can be downloaded from the University Marketing website.
  • Not include any pixelated or blurry images. Good images are large in size and about 150-200 ppi.

DesignLab’s Poster-Creation Resource

The Writing Center’s Poster-Creation Resource

5- and 10-Minute Presentations

We encourage students to choose the presentation format and/or visual aid that works best for the project they’re presenting. Students often use slides for their presentations, but many also share video, demonstrations, speeches, project displays, and other formats.

Presentations should:

  • Include your mentor’s name.
  • Have a clear and logical structure (we encourage you to map out your presentation before creating it!)
  • Communicate a take-home message
  • Keep information on visual aids minimal and scannable
  • Ensure graphics and visuals are easy to read and understand

DesignLab’s Presentation Resource


Films and performances should generally be shorter than 15 minutes. If you plan to present a longer piece, consider sharing a clip/segment or shortened version of your work.

Be sure to plan and practice how you will introduce and conclude your film/performance. Many students briefly share their project title, names of project members, and background.

Artist Talk

We encourage you to create a detailed map for your talk and to consider how to highlight the most important details about your project. One strategy that often works well is to plan your talk as though you are telling your audience the story of your work. You are also welcome to use a visual aid for your talk if you would like.

Questions? Contact Us.

Make an Appointment at DesignLab 

We encourage you to go to DesignLab and work directly with one of their consultants for help with designing your poster or presentation. Make an appointment or drop-in. They are located in 2250 College Library.

Make an Appointment at the Writing Center

The Writing Center can provide support as you think about how to structure your poster or presentation, teach you how to present your project in a way that’s accessible to the wide-ranging audiences at the symposium, and help you proofread your work. The Writing Center is located at 6172 Helen C. White Hall.

Practice & Ask For Feedback

We encourage you to practice sharing your presentation or walking your audience through your poster several times before the day of the symposium. Practice is the best way to feel prepared!

  • Practice your presentation at least three times before the symposium. Pay attention to the parts of your presentation or poster you struggle with the most, and practice those sections a bit more.
  • Share your poster or presentation with your friends, classmates, or mentors ahead of time. Ask them for feedback– what did they like about your presentation? What did they not quite understand? What did they learn?
  • Brainstorm a list of 10 to 15 questions your audience might ask you about your project. Think through what your answers might be to those questions.
  • If you are sharing a 5-minute presentation, 10-minute presentation, film/performance, or artist talk, be sure to time a few run-throughs of your presentation. Moderators will be tasked with keeping presenters to time, so making sure that your presentation falls within the allotted time can help you avoid having your presentation cut short on the day of the event.
  • Consult with a staff member at The Writing Center to explain your project, practice your presentation, and to hear, firsthand, what your listeners find particularly intriguing and relevant.

Print Your Poster or Submit Your Presentation Materials

Instructions for Printing Posters:

All symposium participants can print their posters for free at College Library. Please ensure that you submit your poster order before the deadline.

More details coming soon.

Instructions for Submitting Presentation Materials:

All presenters using using presentation materials requiring use of the projector/screens or sound systems (slides, Prezis, video, music, etc.) will need to upload those materials before the posted deadline.

More details coming soon.