Tips for a Successful Poster

Attention to detail is vital when preparing for any presentation. For posters, a general concept is the information should stimulate discussion, not give a long presentation. Because space is limited, keep text to a minimum, emphasize graphics, and make sure every item in the poster is necessary.

PREPARATION AND LAYOUT

  • Draw a rough sketch of the poster on graph paper to develop a clear idea of which components will go where.
  • Remember that the size of the poster board will be 4-feet high x 8-feet wide (1.22 M high x 2.44 M wide). The bottom edge of the poster boards are approximately 30 inches (76.2cm) off the floor. These boards are push pin compatible. Please keep in mind that the maximum allowed poster size is 36 inches high x 48 inches wide in landscape format (86.36 x 121.92 cm), so please be mindful of other presenters’ space needs.
  • Keep in mind that two posters should fit on this space, so please be sure to keep poster sizes below the 4’ width
  • Include the title and authors of the poster as listed in your abstract.
  • Information on the poster should read like a book – flowing from left to right and from top to bottom.
  • It may be helpful to use arrows or identifiers (sequential letters or numbers) to guide the reader through the poster.
  • You can also arrange it in two or three vertical columns, but not horizontal strips.
  • The introduction or rationale should be placed at the upper left and the outcome/impact or concluding comments should appear at the lower right. Objectives and other information will fill the remaining space.
  • Keep it simple – too much information leads to messy or “busy” posters.
  • Avoid overwhelming your audience with too many numbers, words, and/or complicated graphs.
  • Stick to two or three main points; too many can confuse the viewer. Get feedback from others before finalizing.

TEXT

  • Double-space all text, using left justification.
  • Use short sentences, simple words, and bullets to illustrate discrete points.
  • Written material should be concise. Avoid using jargon, acronyms, or unusual abbreviations.
  • The printed outcomes/impacts should permit observers to focus on a concise statement of your central findings that lends itself to discussion.

FONTS

  • All information should be large enough to read easily from at least 4 feet away.
  • Suggested text size is no smaller than 24 point; Author(s) and affiliation(s) should be at least 42 point; Subheadings should be at least 60 point.
  • The title should be printed across the top of the poster in characters of 80-150 point. (Please allow space for the 4″x4″ poster number in the top left-hand corner.)
  • San serif fonts. (The small finishing strokes that stem from the upper and lower ends of a character) are easiest to read. Suggested options include: Arial, Century Gothic, Franklin Gothic Medium, Lucida Sans.
  • Choose one font and then use it throughout the poster.
  • Add emphasis by using boldface, underlining, or color. (Italics are sometimes difficult to distinguish from regular.)
  • Do not use all caps unless it is for one or two word headings. ALL CAPS TEXT IS NOT EASY TO READ.

ILLUSTRATIONS (GRAPH, CHARTS, PHOTOS, ETC.)

  • The success of a poster directly relates to the clarity of the illustrations and tables.
  • Self-explanatory graphics should dominate the poster (at least 50% of your poster space).
  • Keep captions brief.
  • A minimal amount of text should supplement the graphic materials.
  • Graphic materials should be visible from a distance of four (4) feet.
  • Only include essential information in graphs and tables.
  • Label data lines in graphs directly, using large fonts and color. The use of legends and keys requires the viewer to take more time to interpret your message.
  • Lines in graphs should be thicker than normally provided in printed letter-sized paper reports or manuscripts.
  • Use colors to distinguish different data groups in graphs. Avoid using patterns or open bars in histograms.

USE OF COLOR

  • Overuse of color can be distracting – restrained use of 2 to 3 colors for emphasis is valuable.
  • Two to three related background colors will unify the poster.
  • Use a light background with darker photos; a dark background with lighter photos.
  • Use a neutral background (gray) to emphasize color in photos, a white background to reduce the impact of colored photos.