English
3880

Writing for Business and Industry

Fall
2015

 

Posters reading

You can assume that all of the page layout and design concepts you have learned apply to posters. Don't think that they can be ignored just because the paper is bigger.

The readings are combined into one set.

 

Design guide

Comments

 

Readings

Poster design guide

Designing conference posters

Voice

 

Poster presentation

Comments

 

Readings

Poster presentation

Voice

 

Overall poster layout

Comments

People approach new information in a known spatial sequence: we track vertically from center to top to bottom, and horizontally from left to right. This means that you should put the most important message in the center top position followed by the top left, top right, bottom left, and finish in the bottom right corner. That's why the poster title should be your punch line because, in that position, the title and your name will be seen in the first 11 seconds that a person looks at the poster.

The overall format of a good poster is dictated by the way we assimilate information. For example, you would never put your first panel on the right and ask your reader to proceed to the left because we are not trained to read that way. Newspaper format, two vertical columns that are arranged so that you read the left one first and then the right one, is highly "readable" since the reader does not spend time figuring out which panel to read next. A left to right horizontal rows arrangement works too but is not as common. You can easily walk around any meeting and find lots of variation.

Space is important in a poster: without it, your reader has no visual pauses to think. Books leave space on the margins and by having chapters. Posters that are crammed with information are tiring to read and are seldom read in their entirety. Omit all extraneous text or visual distractions, including borders between related data and text, so the reader can assimilate your ideas easily.

Size of poster elements or the fonts in each panel can serve to emphasize the main points. For example, making your subheadings in all capitals and two font sizes larger than the rest of the text on the same panel will draw the reader's eye first, and so be emphasized. The use of multiple fonts in a poster can distract from the science.

You will lend the most power to your words if you spatially arrange the text in each panel of your poster following the same principles used for the poster layout as a whole. A common street sign reads "go children slow". Because the word "children" is in capitals larger than the other words and is in the center of the image, you read "Children, go slow" even though that is not the actual spatial arrangement of the words in the sign. This sign is powerful, succinct, and highly readable.

Readings
Voice

Get to the point

Comments

Edit! Edit! Edit ruthlessly! to reduce text.
Edit all text to simplify verbiage, to reduce sentence complexity, and to delete details.

If it's not relevant to your message, remove it!

To select the content for your poster, you must cull the most essential information from the wealth of knowledge you've gained. It's psychologically hard, but you can't use everything. You want to select the crucial support for “the main point.”

Readings

Stay focused on your message

Voice

Visual grammar of a poster

Comments

Readings

A clear visual grammar

Voice

 

Font choices

Comments

Viewers can't read small type from a distance. Use 24-point or larger for the basic text. Headings need to be even larger. Yes, they will appear huge on your monitor. Remember that the poster must be easily readable (in other words, readable without effort by someone who doesn't know what it says) from 8-10 feet away.

Limit yourself to three or fewer fonts. In general, serif fonts for the text and sans serif for the headings, titles, and maybe captions/callouts.

Special effects impede communication. The drop shadow effect can look blurry and is best avoided for technical posters. Using all capital letters in posters, like in e-mail, can translate as "unfriendly." It's better to stick to standard case just as you would in a normal sentence.

Basically, the same typography choices that apply to print apply to posters. The font is just a bit bigger.

Readings
Voice

 

Color

Comments

Remember that individual colors have visual weight.

You need a strong contrast between text and background. In most cases, the background of your poster should be a solid color rather than a pattern. A pattern background causes the contrast to vary and can make some text disappear into the background. Also, text on patterned or low contrast backgrounds are normally easier to read on a monitor than on the printed poster.

Watch out for unintentional connotations that certain colors and color combinations carry. Black and orange, for instance, can carry the connotation of Halloween.

Remember the design must allow color blind readers.

Readings

Using color

Poster design guide talks about color under "Creating coherence.

Voice

 

Graphics

Comments

Illustrations and photographs should be clear and properly proportioned. Use high resolution images (200 dpi or higher); TIFF or GIF images are best. The drop-and-drag method of adjusting an image's width or height can result in distortion. It's better to resize images using commands such as "image size." "scale" or "fit content proportionately."

Web graphs are usually only 72 or 96 dpi. They do not reproduce well when printed in the large sizes required by a poster.

Readings

Simple graphics

Voice

 

Uncluttered look

Comments

The overall design must be uncluttered. Don't just pack information in giving up white space and using smaller fonts.

You learned to view a page at 10 feet to test the overall design. Posters need the same check, but from farther away (or making them very small on your monitor). Remember that you have at most 11 seconds to draw people in. A dense uninviting poster only gets 2 seconds before the person ignores it.

Here's a picture of poster sessionn from a conference I attended. You can't really see the scope, but it had about 10 rows of these poster boards and filled about 2/3 of a Las Vegas hotel ball room. And no, the most visible poster is not a good idea....it's just a paper/PPT printed out and stuck on the board. If you were walking down the isle, which posters would you want to look at?

Readings
Voice

 

11 second rule

Comments

Studies show that you have only 11 seconds to grab and retain your audience's attention so make the message prominent and brief. Most of your audience is going to absorb only the title.

Given that the average poster gazer spends less than 10 minutes on your work and you have 11 seconds to trap your subject before they move on, only information that supports your main message.

Those who are directly involved in related research will seek you out anyway and chat with you at length so you can afford to leave out all the details and tell those who are really interested the "nitty gritty" later.

Readings
Voice

 

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