So you want to make a Poster
The following resources should be helpful when designing and printing posters for scientific presentations.
Some Useful References
A few years back (2001), at time when some people still had their slides shot to camera film, I co-authored a couple of useful articles on the art and style of a good presentation. Although these articles are focused on slide presentations, the concepts apply to posters too.
When Presentations Go Bad Part I Cockerill and Wawrzyniec (2001)
When Presentations Go Bad Part II Cockerill and Wawrzyniec (2001)
Some Useful Guidelines for Posters
How you set up your poster is a matter of personal style and some issues of style are addressed below. Here is a list of DOs and DON'Ts.
- Use 18 point text for all body text
- Use 72 point text for Titles
- Use Bold for all captions and labels
- If you have a color in the back ground, consider masking boxes of text with white or perhaps a light neutral color.
- Break up your sections, give arrows to guide your readers through your poster
- Make your figures big, people need to see your work from 4-8 feet away.
- Never use a photograph or a complex graphic as a back-ground. Its visually noisy and distracts from the points you are trying to make
- Never use a black backround - this is a huge waste of ink!
- Never use San-serif fonts for body text - its hard to read
- Never use block justify
- Never use single line spacing
Posters should be visual and organized much like a paper. Minimize the amount of text and focus on visual aids to make your point. You should have enough text so that someone can understand your poster without you leading them through the content.
Abstract - The abstract should be identical to the abstract you submitted for your poster session
Title - The title should be identical to the title you submitted and should be followed by authorship and institutional information
Materials or Methods - Many people like to use the word "Methodology", unless you are proposing a study on methods, the word to use is "methods" when describing how you conducted your study
Results - In science, the results section is the meat of the poster. You will want photos, graphs, tables, line plots, etc. presented in your results section. Make your graphics big so they can be seen from several feet away.
Conclusions/Discussion - If your study is conclusive, you may not need a discussion
Line plots - Line plots or charts from excel are formated for printed reprots. You will want to increase your font sizes, use bold fonts, and use thicker lines. You want people to be able to see the graph from a distance.
Photos - A picture can tell a thousand words. A big photo used as a back ground can make your text un readable. I recommend you never use a photo for a back drop. If you want color, try a colored back ground. Text should be black on a white fill background mask.
Captions/Labels - I recommend a san-serif font like ariel or helvetica for all labels and captions. Again, make sure this text is 18 point or larger and I prefer using bold fonts.
Symbols - use mathematic symbols rather than quick keys. You want things to print right the first time.
- Never use more than 3 fonts in a presentation
- Use mathmatical symbols rathern than font keystrokes for all formulas
Use san serif fonts for captions and labels on figures. A san serif font is one that does not have the small projecting details called "serifs".
This is a serif font
- This is not a serif font
- Avoid using block justification
- Use 1.5 line spacing
- Use bold and larger text sizes for emphasis
- Consider a title font that is no more than 1 inch high
- Authorship and instiutional text should be smaller than the title
- Body text should be 18 point text
Pisel (2011) - COS poster (download)
last updated 11/30/2011