In preparing your poster, there are several points that are important for you to take into consideration. Above all, you must remember to pay attention to the composition as a whole, and the purpose of your poster presentation: to convey a specific, scientific message. In the following guidelines, several important points will be discussed, which should assist you in the planning and executing of your poster-making task.
You will be asked to choose the theme of your presentation from the subject list. While preparing your poster, keep in mind the criteria that will be used for the final evaluation:
- Logical flow of information to convey your scientific message
- Use of illustrations and data
- Clarity of text
- Choice of sources and references
- Overall presentation (use of colour, font etc.)
- Oral presentation of your poster
The final evaluation will take place on the last day of the Summer Course.
You can find successful posters from last years course. Although these posters received awards, please keep in mind that they are not free of faults, according to the evaluation criteria.
As in any presentation, it is important to bear in mind, who your audience will be. In this case, your audience will include firstly other students who are participating in the summer course. This part of the audience will have general knowledge of your topic, but may not be informed about the specifics. The second part of the audience will be made up of the evaluation group, which is made up of experts as well as laymen. You may assume that the non-experts within the group will have little to no scientific knowledge regarding your topic.
Your audience will be viewing your poster while standing, so it is important that the information displayed is clearly legible from a distance of 1 to 2 meters (more to this point under “Text“ and “Visual Elements“).
Organisation of Poster
Your poster should be put together according to the same basic guidelines used for other scientific writing.
- An introduction is used to present your objectives.
- A description of methods used is necessary, but should be kept short, unless an entirely new method was implemented. It is often advisable to use a visual display here to show the steps in a process.
- In a poster presentation the results and discussions should be kept to a minimum and may be portrayed using visual aids.
- Conclusions should be found under a separate heading. Again, be concise and use a list form where possible.
- As in any scientific work, remember to site your references! Good planning and preparation ensure focused and efficient use of your time and satisfying end results.
The most important point in using text in your poster is to be concise. Be sure to coordinate your text effectively with your visual elements (graphs, diagrams, photographs, etc.) In a very brief manner, your poster should convey a story, including an introduction, the “story“ itself and conclusions. The following tips should be useful in preparing your text:
- Limit yourself to short, single sentence texts.
- Use lists, either numbered or with bullets, whenever possible.
- Combine your visual elements with your text in order to break up sections of text.
- Choose type size, font, style and colour that are easy for the viewer to read and maintain his interest. Titles should be legible from 5 to 10 meters distance, text from 1 to 2 meters distance. A letter size of 23 mm (80pt) is recommendable for titles and 5 mm (18 pt) for text. Appropriate fonts would include, for example, Helvetica or Arial. Avoid fancy script types and be sure to use capital and lower case letters to ensure easy reading.
- Be concise and be consistent!
Graphs, diagrams, tables and photographs will play an important role in the composition of your poster. As with your text, be sure that your visuals are clear, easy to see and aesthetically pleasing. Do not try to crowd too much information into tables or graphs. Tables, for example, should include no more than 20 items and graphs should contain no more than 3 lines or 6 bars. Photographs must be large enough for the viewer to see clearly - a good size is 12 x 20 or 15 x 25 cm. Finally, avoid the overuse of colours in your graphics.
Colours should be used in your poster to enhance and highlight. Keep in mind that in using colours to emphasize certain points, less may very well be more. Generally, you should use dark, subdued colours for smaller backing areas, whereas the overall background paper for text and graphics should be a very light colour or white. You may choose to work with different shades of one colour to coordinate related points of interest, but you should avoid using too many different colours. This could end up being very distracting and even confusing for the viewer.
In putting together your poster, you may decide to work with smaller components, which will be mounted on a larger background (suggested size: A1) to create your finished product. Working with smaller sections allows for a great deal of flexibility in trying out various versions before deciding on your final composition. Whichever method you choose to use, it is very important that you don’t over-crowd your poster or make it too “busy“. The use of blank space in planning your poster is very important and may be used to separate as well as to link different sections. Divide your poster into “blocks“ which support the organization of your message, however limit the number of blocks used to 4 or 5. Use arrows, numbers or symbols to show your viewer the sequence of information. You want it to be easy and enjoyable for your viewer to take in the information you are conveying.
In planning and preparing your poster, always bear in mind your main objective of conveying a scientific message. The design and composition of your poster should serve to support your message, and not to distract from it. Your final poster should be concise, credible, accurate and aesthetically pleasing. The information given should be clearly organized, easy to follow and academically interesting. If you take the time to plan your poster well, always keeping your goal and the overall composition in mind, your final poster presentation should be a success for you and a pleasurable source of information for the viewers.
Posters of Previous Courses
"Presentations Guide", published by The Open University
"Poster Presentation of Research Work" published by the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne