How to design a poster presentation

Scientific and technical poster presentations require skills in two key areas: artistic design along with technical writing/editing. Different from papers, the critical first impression from a poster is created through the effectiveness of the visual design. For scientists, it is perhaps the area you are least familiar with and warrants some of your time for review.

In design there is a concept of visual unity and this achieved through white space, type and color. Be sure to read the links as they provide a great discussion of the important elements and why they are important to you. Here is the link which also includes a valuable short discussion on alignment.

If you have more time (and I hope you do!). Here are a two more comprehensive sites that are worth reviewing.

I like these sites because they not only tell you what to do, but also they also show examples of what NOT to do. They also use a bit of light humor (sarcasm). This second one includes a nice little schedule of preparation tasks for your poster presentation. However, the best part of this second site is the resources page. Be sure to take a look at the evaluation form and spend some time exploring these additional resources that are of interest to you.

The next one is an “oldy but goody.” The advice on this site is somewhat outdated, but the basics of visual design still apply. I included this one also because there are some other tutorials also here (relating to oral presentation) that are quite good. If you have some time extra time, take a look.

I included this next one because it has a nice discussion of when to do poster presentation versus a oral presentation. I also liked part “3A–Text” because it tells you how to use bullets effectively and “Part 3B- Graphics” because it includes a brief discussion of which type of graph is best for the type of data you are presenting.

If you want even MORE DETAILS on choosing the right type of graph this next link is great. It contains detailed information on when and how to use tables, graphs, photos, diagrams and more.

Of course, the definitive source of the graphic display of information can be found in the books of Edward Tufte. He has written seven books, including Visual Explanations, Envisioning Information, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information which are the most relevant to effective poster presentations. Use the link below to learn more about his work.

Finally, if you have found any resources that you have found helpful, please share them with me. Also, if any of the above links are broken, please let me know about that too! I look forward to finding out about even more great resources for poster presentations.

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