Create and Design a Better Academic Poster


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Putting together an academic poster will prove to be both an art and a science. This workshop will cover both aspects of academic poster design, providing helpful hints on how to create an acadmic poster that is both eye-catching and informative.

In this session, you will learn:

a step-by-step poster design workflow
how to manage and organize images and content
artistic design strategies
various computer software tools
on and off campus printing options

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  • First, I’d like to talk about why we make academic posters? ASK THE AUDIENCE…
    What it is…
    There when you are not and communicates for you
    Can be long-term advertisement (ie: in departmental hallways)
    Visual representation of research including text NOT legible
    Communicates one-way and does not answer questions or provide further detail
    What it is not…
    A suitable presentation aid to large groups
    Research paper on a poster
    A stand-alone information sharing tool, usually best when accompanied by person or paper
  • There are a few things you should keep in mind even before you start thinking about your poster!
    Know your intentions
    How much time do you intend to put into this?
    How much money do you intend to spend?
    How do you see this particular poster serving you into the future?
    Consider your audience
    Is this for a class?
    Is this for a conference?
    Is this for a general audience?
    Draft a layout
    Use a piece of paper to layout the sections and content
  • Making an academic poster will prove to be a
    And an Art
    So today I will plan to go over how these two aspects of poster creation and design come into play
    The science of the poster includes the elements and workflow in poster creation
    Basic elements
    Narrative structure
    File management
    Computer Software
    The art of the poster is just as important and attracts people to the content in the first place
    Visual structure – Viewer optical experience
    Eye Candy – things to do and not do to make your poster look better
    Colors & Fonts – two major factors that make or break your poster
    Tricks of the Trade – things you probably wouldn’t know if you didn’t come to this workshop
  • Basic Elements
    These are the fire, earth, wind and water of academic posters
    Title should be the only thing legible from a distance
    Author info is crucial for contact or further questions
    Name & Logo are interchangeable but logo is preferrable
    Content or Narrative (story)
    References (if necessary) usually for class posters
    Acknowledgements are especially important for funded research
  • Click---
    In the introductory section, describe what you are studying, why it is important, and how your analysis will add to the existing literature in the field.
    In the data and methods section of a statistical analysis, list when, where, who, and how the data were collected, how many cases were involved, and how the data were analyzed. For other types of interventions or program evaluations, list who, when, where, and how many, along with how the project was implemented and assessed.
    In the results section, present what you found.
    In the conclusion, return to what you found and how it can be used to inform programs or policies related to the issue.
    There will be lots of posters usually and you will be competing based on attractiveness first and then coherence & simplicity next
    TELL A GOOD STORY IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES… Don’t let them fall asleep
    NO MORE THAN 300 WORDS – The bulk of your work while making a poster is working to present the information contained in the text of your paper with illustrations (charts, graphs, pictures, etc)
  • When trying to communicate complex, very specialized research… File management proves very important
    Does most everyone understand how to create file folders?
    Okay so first thing first, is you would create a folder called “…. Poster”
    Then you create three folders…
    First one is content text – This folder will have your paper in a word document (if already written) and your poster text in separate or a single document
    Second one contains your pictures, logos, diagrams – This folder will have different versions of the same file (one original and one that is photoshopped)
    Final your tables and graphs – Not what you think, but your excel files will be in here. You want to create tables, graphs, and charts within excel and then export them by creating pictures or copy/pasting
  • Now that you have a handwritten rough sketch of you poster, you’ve put together your “narrative” in your content text folder, got your charts and graphs made in excel
    You are finally ready to make your poster! Which software should you use?
    Many people use PowerPoint – What is PowerPoint for? It is a software used to make presentations… like the one I’m giving you
    Its not designed to make documents or posters, so why do we use it?
    Because there was a time when it was the ONLY tool for non-graphic design savvy computer users and there are downloadable templates you can find through google
    Problems are with PowerPoint navigating the poster when populated with lots of objects can be very cumbersome and files are relatively LARGE
    Also, you can’t rely on the colors
    But it is easy to use for Microsoft users, BUT there is a BETTER alternative available today!
    Publisher is just like PowerPoint in terms of software navigation and use but it is made SPECIFICALLY for creating documents and large print material
    If you are tempted to use PowerPoint… DON’T… I will show you how to use Publisher and get better results
    Adobe Suite is a professional level software package for graphic designers but is increasingly becoming mainstream as people grow more tech savvy
    Adobe InDesign is the platform used to create books, magazines, the DAILY LOBO, etc… in SA+P we use it to make posters
    Adobe Illustrator is another platform that can be used to make posters, especially if you are familiar with it but InDesign is recommended above it
    If you don’t know how to use any of these software or want to learn the professional level Adobe Suite
    Get FREE Training that you’ve already paid for!
  • The visual structure of your poster will determine the optical experience for viewers
    You can have them go up and down, vertically
    Or you can have them go side to side, horizontally
    Or you can have them go both
    It doesn’t really matter but what does is the RULE OF THIRDS
    The rule of thirds is a "rule of thumb" or guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as paintings, photographs anddesigns.[1] The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.[2] Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.
  • So now lets talk about some things that will make or break the visual attractiveness of your poster
    Use colors, never use black/white unless there is a message in doing so (such as a news paper theme) everyone else will have color and theirs will stand out more than yours by far!
    Use very simply charts or tables that are easy to read in just a glance, no one should have to analyze the chart/graph for minutes just to get the information it is sharing
    Instead of colors for emphasis, use font modifications like bold/italics/underlining or even ALL CAPS. This will make it easier for the brain to process and will make the poster easier to navigate
    Use pictures and diagrams and charts and graphs… REMEMBER ONLY 300 words… pictures are worth 1,000 words
    Use pixelated images (low quality jpegs) You want to use high quality pictures, with file names ending in TIF or PNG
    Expect the poster viewer to read your poster
    Never duplicate the message – limited space and view time – only compliment information
    Add pictures because they are pretty or slightly related

    AS YOU CAN SEE, I CAN DO IT DURING A PRESENTATION and it might get your attention but in the wrong way… how is this related to my message?
  • Speaking about visual appearance let’s go a little further into the primary visual factors of a poster
    When using more than two colors it is important to be careful with color scheme
    You do not want to use primary colors that send mixed messages to viewers because colors symbolize emotion and mood
    Instead use complimentary colors so that it communicates a more cohesive emotional tone and mood, then use the brighter ones to emphasize
    No more than 3-4 colors, it gets too complicated after that
    Use this website – I will show you how to use it in a minute
  • At this point people usually have questions about some of the things I’ve gone over… Any questions?

  • There are many places to print but I will go over three places you can have your poster printed
    My highest recommended printer would be the UNM Copy Center because it is close, cheaper, good quality, and promotes local sustainability
    Next would be Kinko’s, though more expensive, it is slightly better quality, is not on campus but across the street and does not promote local sustainability necessarily
    Individual departments may be the cheapest option, but also produce cheaper posters that won’t last long. A great option for a class poster or quickly made temporary version
    EITHER WAY… always make sure to PROJECT B4 U PRINT! It allows you a rare opportunity to view you poster larger than it would be, catch small mistakes, visualize proportions, and see colors
  • As I put this presentation together I’ve gone through a number of websites and youtube videos. Here is a short list of the very, very good ones I ran into
    If you really NEED HELP. Can’t/Don’t want to use computers as much and want a easy way out and have $$$$
    PosterGenius is the way to go. I have not used this but it seems pretty straight forward and simple to use
    If you are confused about which programs to use or why be more visual than textual then check out unluckylion’s youtube channel… it’s a great video tool
    Like I said before if you need help using programs or figuring out certain aspects… use what you’ve already paid for in
    Full length 40-minute long video on how to use InDesign to make a poster
  • Create and Design a Better Academic Poster

    1. 1. Create & Design an Effective Academic Poster A Graduate Resource Center Workshop Presented by Talal Saint-Lôt
    2. 2. Why an Academic Poster? WHAT IT IS…  Speaks 4 You  Advertisement  Visual Representation of Research  One-way communicator WHAT IT IS NOT…  Presentation aid  Research paper on a poster  Most effective information sharing tool
    3. 3. Before You Begin! 1.Know your intentions 2.Consider your audience 3.Draft layout and content
    4. 4. Quick Overview SCIENCE  Basic Elements  Narrative Structure  File Management  Software to Use ART  Visual Structure  Eye Candy – Do’s n Don’ts  Colors & Fonts  3 Tricks of the Trade
    5. 5. Basic Elements  Poster Title  Author Info  Institution Name  Institution Logo  Research Content  References  Acknowledgements
    6. 6. Narrative Introduction Method/Data Results Conclusion
    7. 7. File Management
    8. 8. Software *Online Training:
    9. 9. Visual Structure
    10. 10. Eye Candy DO…  Use color NEVER Black/White  Simplify charts or tables  Bold/Italicize/Underline  Use Google Image Search DON’T…  Use pictures, instead use illustrations  Emphasize text over diagrams, tables, graphs – 300 words max  Duplicate the message – Compliment instead  Add pictures JUST because…
    11. 11. Colors & Fonts Colors  Be careful with primary colors  Use complimentary colors  No more than 3-4 colors  Fonts  One or two styles  Title 150 - 85pt  Headings 56 - 36pt  Body Text 32 - 24pt  Captions 24 - 18pt  Text Modifications
    12. 12. FAQs at this POINT  Which software program should I use?  Google Image Search?  How to start a poster document in Microsoft Publisher?  How do I use the color scheme website RGB/CMYK codes?  Where can I print? How much does it cost?
    13. 13. Printing Your Poster  UNM Copy Center  $4/ft2 36x24=$24 or 48x36=$48  3 Locations – College of Education, Dane Smith Hall, Health Sciences Center  Call 277-8267 or  FedEx - Kinko’s  Matte Paper $7.25/ft2 or Photo Quality $12/ft2  36x24=$43.50/$72 or 48x36=$87/$144  Individual Departments  Free or at cost  College of Education, Geography, SA+P, CEP, and others PROJECT IT B4 U PRINT IT!
    14. 14. Notable Resources  PosterGenius by Scigen Technologies  Create Poster Tutorial Video Series by unluckylion  Online Software Training –  Adobe for Academics - design-an-eyecatching-conference-poster/
    15. 15. Trick #1
    16. 16. Trick #2
    17. 17. Trick #3 Watch the Video
    18. 18. What you just learned… SCIENCE  Basic Elements  Narrative Structure  File Management  Software to Use ART  Visual Structure  Eye Candy – Do’s n Don’ts  Colors & Fonts  3 Tricks of the Trade