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Creating an academic poster

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Tulpesh Patel

on 24 February 2014

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Transcript of Creating an academic poster

Creating an Academic poster
1. Planning
3. Layout
5. Images
6. Text
7. Final checks
It's always a good idea to sketch out ideas first on paper.
What do they already know?
What will be new to them?
What do they want to know?
What is their motivation for reading your poster?
What do you think they need to know in order for them to understand your work?
The knowledge gap
2. Audience awareness
High level of knowledge
Specialist in an overlapping field
No familiarity with subject area
Ask yourself: What is the most important/interesting/ part of my work?
Like a trailer for a movie it should highlight some of the best bits and make people want to find out more.
Two levels of organization
Clear progression between one part of the poster and the next.
Logical flow of ideas and connections between text and images.
You can organize and emphasize different parts based on placement and size.
Sources for copyright-free images
Colour schemes
Print off your poster A4 or A3, hang it up and take a step back.
The purpose of the poster is to display graphically the main points of your work.
Don’t try to include everything, and don’t copy and paste paragraphs into a template.
4. Design
It helps to break your work down into the following (in terms of your audience)
You should aim to get down to between 300 and 800 words.
1. Introduction
2. Methods
3. Results
4. Discussion
5. Conclusion
6. References
Problem-Solution format
1. Background
2. Definition of problem
3. Possible solutions
4. Rationale for choice of one solution
5. Implementation
6. Evaluation
Stick to using two, maybe three colours, and black.
Try to use images with as high a resolution as possible - 200-300 pixels per inch is good for a poster.

Most images screen captured from the internet are 75PPI - much too low.
Don't worry about minor details, focus on
Columns and rows
Build your work around your main finding(s), especially in the form of a graph, chart or diagram.
The answers to these questions have important implications for
Level of assumed knowledge
IMRaD format
1. Introduction
2. Methods
3. Results
4. Discussion
5. Conclusion
6. References
Title, Authors, Affiliations
Title, Authors, Affiliations
Numbered headings help guide the reader.
Avoid using arrows as they add clutter (and are a sign that your layout is not as intuitive as it should be).
Tulpesh Patel, Scicommbobulate, tulpesh.patel@gmail.com, @tulpesh
Most academic posters are now designed on computer and printed on large plotter printers.
Several software tools are available, each with their pros and cons.
There are lots of resources on the internet for templates and inspiration.
Using colours that are found in your graphs and images can help create a unified theme.
Title, Authors, Affiliations, Contact information
Never print text directly onto a photo background as it is almost always illegible from a distance
If using a background image, place text in plain boxes.
Backgrounds can very easily become gimmicky, distracting and undermine the quality of the work being presented.
To avoid problems with scaling and resolution, always set the size of the page to the one you will be printing in.
MS PowerPoint is the easiest to use and most widely available but doesn't have the feature-set of Scribus or Adobe InDesign.
The easiest way to transfer over from a standard research paper.
This format is more context/content dependent.
60/40 split between graphics and text
Leave plenty of empty space.
There's an inverse relationship between print-size and resolution.
Sans serif fonts are the easiest to read from a distance.
Titles 72+
Sub-titles 54+
Text 30+
Sub-text 20+
As a guide, for an A0 poster:
These values may need to change depending on your font, page size and overall design.
To highlight important words/phrases.
1. Consider using just those words.
2. Underline or make

Source: http://www.ncsu.edu/project/posters/CreatePosterGraphics.html
'Reader gravity':
Top to bottom, left to right,
What may look good on screen may not look as good at actual size in print.
A0 is 8x A4, the same as 1/4 of this image being magnified 4x.
Pixel power
Graphs and charts
Always include a descriptive title.
Make sure each axis has a legible label.
Avoid including gridlines.
Label the data instead of using legends.
Use colour and formatting to distinguish data.
Just use the default formatting provided by the software you're using.
Be tempted to overload tables with
of your data.
Rely on the graph/table to tell the whole story.
Use 3D effects - they confuse more than they enhance.
Ensure they are of high enough resolution.
Number and label all tables and figures.
Link the figure to the text (e.g. see Table 1).
Remove all unnecessary information/detail.
Make sure they are self-contained.
Represent as much as possible visually.
Print test
at least twice
Who are they?
Make sure each image and line of text on the poster is both
Save the final version as a PDF to avoid formatting and file corruption issues.
Double-check before sending it to the printers.
Claims and arguments
Figures and graphs

Check your poster for:
speling mistakes.
the use of of repeated words.
grammatical errors you might have make.
Keep it simple and consistent.
Avoid using too many different
and colours.
Left-aligned text is easiest to read.
Use bullet points not full sentences.
White space
All figures and images should be fully and properly references according to the stipulated format.
Full transcript