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Research poster design

Slides for an undergraduate research poster design workshop at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, on 3/31/2015.

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Research poster design

  1. 1. Ben Hockenberry Systems Librarian | Lavery Library | St. John Fisher College Slides available: Portions of this presentation were adapted from And
  2. 2.  Create your file in PowerPoint, Publisher, or InDesign (not Word)  On the View Menu, show “Guides”  Choose a template or layout that matches the size, orientation, and shape that you need printed (the printer can’t turn a square into a rectangle without distortion)  Your final version should be saved as PDF with embedded fonts
  3. 3. Summarize Communicate Engage
  4. 4. No one will read your whole paper on a poster.
  5. 5. It’s kind of like an illustrated abstract. Make your point clear Keep it to-the-point
  6. 6. The audience is there for the free food. Make them care. Source:
  7. 7. Use language that assumes intelligence but not expertise Make your conclusions meaningful
  8. 8. Keep text sections short, and its size readable Source:
  9. 9. Use lists instead of paragraphs when you can
  10. 10. Posters should communicate, not confuse.
  11. 11. A story follows a logical path. Lead viewers through yours. Source:
  12. 12. Organize in clear sections Use short, meaningful titles for sections (standard ones, if discipline-appropriate) Order sections for logical flow
  13. 13. For scientific posters: Only deviate from “top-left to bottom-right” with purpose.
  14. 14. Consider visual flow: Where does the viewer look first? Where next? Are questions asked, and answered?
  15. 15. Images, white space, and contrast make it or break it.
  16. 16. Your poster should consist of roughly 20-30% text 30-40% figures 40% space l e a v e b r e a t h i n g r o o m
  17. 17. White space provides: Rhythm or Flow Unity Readability Balance “Padding” keeps text from touching borders, backgrounds, and other images Image source:
  18. 18. More text = More time standing, making sense of the work Less time engaging with you and others Source:
  19. 19. Posters are about sharing and engaging. If a reader is interested, she can talk to you or follow up. Include contact information! Source:
  20. 20. Keep text easy-to-read. (“Edwardian Script” is not easy to read.)
  21. 21. Sans-serif fonts are generally more legible from a distance. Examples:  Calibri  Century Gothic  Lucida Sans  Tahoma  Verdana Source: Serif fonts can work if their size is big enough. Headings! Examples: Centaur  Garamond  Georgia  Rockwell  Times New Roman
  22. 22. Choose 2 fonts (maybe 3) Use consistent typeface and size for all text of the same type Change fonts with purpose Source:
  23. 23. Title: 85pt Authors: 56pt Sub-headings: 36pt Body text: 24pt Captions: 18pt These are only suggestions; every poster is different. From:
  24. 24. Use charts instead of text when possible Consider adding a brief caption to make a point 0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500 4,000 January February March April May June July August September Headcounts by Month and Time of Day 9:00am 11:00am 1:00pm 3:00pm 5:00pm 7:00pm 1:00 is our peak traffic timeslot, but close to Finals Week, people stay in the library later.
  25. 25. Use 150-300 dpi (dots per inch) images… or they’ll print like this. (72 dpi is standard on the Web) Source:
  26. 26. Paste your images into the document, then ZOOM to 100% to check resolution
  27. 27. Make sure text and images pop “The Squint Test:” is text readable when you squint? Avoid distracting backgrounds and transparency Source:
  28. 28. Keep colors consistent for content of the same type Use a color picker tool or “theme” colors Soft colors for most information, and brighter colors for highlights Keep backgrounds light
  29. 29. Contrast aids readability Colors differentiate (Don’t forget colorblindness) If data represents a scale, use colors in visible order Small data points (line charts, scatter plots) need brighter colors to be seen The hardest text to read in this chart is the most important.
  30. 30. Source:
  31. 31. If you didn’t write it, cite it (Hockenberry, 2015).
  32. 32. Tutorials  MakeSigns Videos and text walkthroughs Color  Adobe Color CC (was Kuler) Templates  Genigraphics  MakeSigns SciPosters_Templates.aspx