Writing for Business and Industry




Create a poster, designed for the workplace, that explains how to effectively use graphs in written material.

Your boss wants the poster to address the problem of too many people are creating graphics with Excel, using the defaults, and/or picking cool-looking graphs rather than thinking about how they are perceived. There are problems like people using unreadable 3D graphs or creating the Christmas tree graph we discussed a few weeks ago. The result is that customer and internal presentations are not going well because important information is not being communicated.

I realize that many of the readings for this week dealt with presenting research results, but the same basic principles of poster design apply.

Microsoft Publisher will probably be the easist software for you to get access to, but you can use any product. Word will not let you create a page this size, you'll have to use some sort of layout program. PowerPoint will work, but it's a pain to deal with.

Turn in


You will submit a draft of your poster that your assigned group (same as the Recommendation Report) and I will make comments on. The draft should be a final version of the poster. It is not something you slapped you tossed together 20 minutes before submitting it.

Not turning in a complete draft is minus one letter grade.


PDF of your final poster at full size. (watch out that the print process doesn't reduce it to 8.5x11).

You'll then be expected to revised the final poster taking into account the comments from me and your group members. Ignoring the comments and turning in essentially the draft as the final will have a negative grade impact.

Assignment details

Must be a minimum of 48 in long and 30 inches high and a maximum size of 72 inches long and 36 inches high.

Should use color.

Needs images which contribute to the message. (clip art for clip art's sake is not appropriate)

No bleed edges. The poster must be designed to be printed on white paper.


You will not be standing by the poster to explain it. It must stand alone.

It will end up hanging in a break room or hall way at work.

Since it will be hanging in a hallway, handouts are not relevant.

Potential problems

Lack of audience consideration and meeting what the boss wants you to create. This results in answering the wrong problem. The boss is not interested in a "should you a pick a bar, line, or pie" poster. He wants something to keep people from just accepting Excel defaults and overusing cool effects. What questions does the boss want answered and how is the poster addressing those questions.

Font is too small. It must be easily readable from 5-6 feet away. Yes, you can read 14 point font at 5 feet, but you would you really want to? Also, you can read text you write much further away than something you didn't write....you already know what it says.

Includes too much text. Dense posters are a turn off.

Trying to say too much. Pick the 2-3 most important points and make sure it communicates them. The other 50 important points have to be let go.

Graphics that look cool but don't communicate anything.

Main points are hard to distinguish. The reader must be able to easily see what the main 2-3 points are.

This not a "when to use a bar versus line graph" design.


Don't put the course number, your name, or other class labels on the poster. Design it so that it is ready hang in a hallway at work.

Turn off hypenation

Avoid orphans.

Create the graphs yourself. All of the examples should look like they came from the same designer. Or at least all of the good examples.

If you are going to cut & paste graphics from the readings, make sure they don't have any extraneous markup in them. Stuff like arrows pointing out a graph problems, etc. when you are not talking about that arrow. Sort of like people who grabbed a book cover for the recommendation report from Amazon and it has a big "Look Inside" arrow on the image.

Avoid centered text paragraphs.

GIF files can be transparent. JPG have white backgrounds. Be consistent.

Be consistent on the white space around text frames

You can't just tell people to "stop using Excel defaults" You must tell them what to do to instead of using the defaults and which default to ignore.

The 2D and 3D Senate graphics are not good examples to use. They cannot be produced in Excel.


Design by Michael J. Albers Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Send me an email.