1.1) Determine the one essential concept you would like to get across to the audience.
1.2) Determine the size of the poster. Common dimensions for posters are 42 x 42 inches, 42 x 48, inches, or 42 x 52 inches.
1.3) Preparing a poster will take as much time as you let it. Allocate your time wisely. If you have little experience making posters, it will take longer.
1.4) A good way to start: Sketch it out!
1.5) Make a sketch of the poster. Arrange the contents in a series of 3, 4, or 5 columns. This will facilitate the flow of traffic past the poster.
1.6) Place the elements of the poster in position:
1.7) The title will appear across the top.
1.8) A brief introduction will appear at the upper left.
1.9) The conclusions will appear at the lower right.
1.10) Methods and Results will fill the remaining space.
2.0) The Title
2.1) This part of the poster includes the title of the work, the authors names, & the institutional affiliations. Think BIG!
2.2) The title should be readable from 15 – 20 feet away.
2.3) If space permits, use first names for authors to facilitate interactions.
2.4) Middle initials and titles are seldom necessary.
2.5) Use abbreviations where possible.
3.0) Sequencing contents
3.1) A poster should use photos, figures, and tables to tell the story of the study. For clarity, present the information in a sequence that is easy to follow:
3.2) Determine a logical sequence for the material you will be presenting.
3.3) Organize that material into sections, e.g., Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, &, if necessary, Literature Cited. (Avoid using too many citations. If only a few are used, a literature cited section is unnecessary. Instead, cite as follows in the text: Clinton, B. 1993. Auk 107:234-246.).
3.4) You may wish to use numbers to help sequence sections of the poster.
3.5) Arrange the material into columns.
3.6) The poster should not rely upon your verbal explanation to link together the various portions.
4.0) Edit Ruthlessly!
There is almost always too much text in a poster.
4.1) Posters primarily are visual presentations; the text should support the graphics.
4.2) Look critically at the layout. Some poster ‘experts’ suggest that if there is about 20-25% text, 40-45% graphics and 30-40% empty space, you are doing well.
4.3) Use active voice when writing the text.
4.4) Delete all redundant references and filler phrases (such as see Figure 1).
4.5) An abstract may not be necessary. If you’ve kept the amount of text on your poster to a minimum, an abstract is likely redundant.
4.6) The poster is not a publication of record, so excessive detail about methods, or vast tables of data are not necessary. Such material can be discussed with interested persons individually during or after the session, or presented in a handout.
5.1) The success of a poster directly relates to the clarity of the illustrations and tables.
5.2) Self-explanatory graphics should dominate the poster.
5.3) A minimal amount of text should supplement the graphic materials.
5.4) Use empty space between poster elements to differentiate and accentuate these elements.
5.5) Graphic materials should be visible easily from a minimum distance of 6 feet.
5.6) Restrained use of 2 – 3 colors for emphasis is valuable; overuse is not.
5.7) Show no mercy when editing visual materials!
5.8) Use short sentences, simple words, and bullets to illustrate discrete points.
5.9) Remove all non-essential information from graphs and tables.
5.10) If possible, label data lines in graphs directly, using large type & color.
5.11) Lines in illustrations should be larger than normal. Use contrast and colors for emphasis.
5.12) Use colors to distinguish different data groups in graphs. Avoid using patterns or open bars in histograms.
5.13) Colored transparency overlays can be useful for comparing/contrasting graphic results.
6.0) Poster text
6.1) Double-space all text, using left-justification; text with even left sides and jagged right sides is easiest to read. The text should be large enough to be read easily from at least 6 feet away.
6.2) For section headings (e.g., Introduction), use bold, maybe a font size of about 36-42. For supporting text (e.g., text within each section & figure captions), use font sizes of about 24-28 (bold, if appropriate). In general, use font sizes proportional to importance:
6.3) largest font size- Title
6.4) next largest font size – Section headings
6.5) medium font size – Supporting material
6.6) smallest font size – Details
6.7) Keep in mind that san serif fonts (having characters without curliques or other embellishments) are easiest to read. Finally, be consistent. Choose one font and then use it throughout the poster. Add emphasis by using boldface, underlining, or color; italics are difficult to read. .
7.0) The Poster’s Background
7.1) The choice of a background color is up to you. However, softer colors (pastels & greys) may work best as a background – they are easiest to view for hours at a time, and offer the best contrast for text, graphic, and photographic elements.
7.2) Use a colored background to unify your poster:
7.3) Muted colors, or shades of gray, are best for the background. Use more intense colors as borders or for emphasis, but be conservative – overuse of color is distracting.
7.4) Two to three related background colors (Methods, Results, & Discussion) will unify the poster.
7.5) If necessary for emphasis, add a single additional color by mounting the figure on thinner poster board, or outlining the figure in colored tape.
7.6) Color can enhance the hues or contrast of photographs:
7.7) Use a light background with darker photos; a dark background with lighter photos.
7.8) Use a neutral background (gray) to emphasize color in photos; a white background to reduce the impact of colored photos.
7.9) Most poster sessions are held in halls lit with harsh fluorescent light. If exact colors are important to the data, balance those colors for use with fluorescent lighting. Also, all colors will be intensified; bright (saturated) colors may become unpleasent to view.
8.0) Miscellaneous comments
8.1) Because a poster is a visual presentation, try to find ways to show what was done – use schematic diagrams, arrows, and other strategies to direct the visual attention of the viewer, rather than explaining it all using text alone (i.e., like the poster with way too much text below).
8.2) Design the poster to address one central question. State the question clearly in the poster, then use your discussion time with individuals to expand or expound upon issues surrounding that central theme.
8.3) Provide an explicit take-home message.
8.4) Summarize implications and conclusions briefly, and in user-friendly language.
8.5) Give credit where it is due. Have an acknowledgments section, in smaller font size (maybe 14 – 18 point), where you acknowledge contributors and funding organizations.
8.6) Vary the size and spacing of the poster sections to add visual interest, but do so in moderation.
8.7) Do not wander too far away from your poster during the session; be available for discussion!
Software and Hardware Options:
Posters can be generated and printed as one large document using a variety of software packages such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop, or Canvas. Large-format printers come in various sizes. Our department’s printer can handle posters up to 42 inches wide (& length is flexible).
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