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A Guide for Poster Design

Below are comments from my lecture on how to design your poster. Do feel free to send me email and ask for clarification on any issues.

Two Guiding Principles

General Comments about Format

Headings: Headings should be phrased exactly as below unless there is a compelling reason to deviate. These may be in type larger, bold, italic, color, colored background, etc. Remember, visual interest and professional organization.

Text size: The text of the poster should be in a size that can be easily read from 3 feet away. This means at least 18 and more likely 22 points. Footnotes, references and author notes may be in a smaller font size. For all text, use standard fonts such as New York, Palatino, Time, or Roman.

Columns: Text of poster should be arrayed in columns or rows that are easy to track visually. I prefer columns, others prefer rows. But space your pieces so the organization is clear. You may use combinations of portrait and landscape printing for visual interest or to make graphics or text fit better.

Overall poster size: The tri-fold display boards are made by Hunt and are available at the Art Store, in downtown Northfield. They are 36 inches high by 48 inches wide and are black on their background.

Pictures, Tables, & Charts: Make all pictures, tables, and charts large enough to be viewed from 3 feet away. This means labels of at least 18 if not 22 point size. These are a good chance to add color to your presentation. Always include an explanatory title for the item. The title, together with the labels, and data should make sense to a reader without reading the text. Some people will only be able to see your chart because others are standing in the way.

Citation of References in the text of your poster: To refer to references in the text of your poster, you can use the author's name in a sentence such as: Abelson (1974) thinks we think too much about how people think. Or you could phrase the sentence as: Some psychologists (Abelson, 1974; Bargh, 1983) have criticized the tendency to look for schemas in every action. The first time you refer to an article with 3 to 5 authors, like Abramson, Seligman, and Teasdale (1978), you should cite all the authors. Afterwards, you can refer to the article as Abramson, et al. (1978). If a work has 6 or more authors, use the "et al." form every time. Page 168 of the APA style manual 4th edition contains additional rules if these do not cover your case.

Sections of the Poster

Title: Should be short and informative. It should include both the independent and dependent variable. Standard forms are "The effect of X & Y on Z" and "X, Y, and Z." More racy forms are "X increases Z in the presence of Y" or "Do Xs Y more?" Font size can be from 38 to 72. Colored or white letters on colored background adds visual interest, but not necessary. Usually centered at top of poster, so people can see it over other's heads. May be pieced together across several pages.

Authors: Centered underneath title, in smaller font (but larger than poster text). Organized by amount of contribution. If not, then organization should be noted (random, alphabetical) in small print. Standard format for these names is "First name Last name, First name Last name, & First name Last Name."

Affiliation: In this case St. Olaf College. Centered under names, in the same or slightly smaller font size than names. Place your Group Number here too.

Required sections: The following sections are required for your poster. If you modify them, be sure to have a good reason. In each section I give a sampling of the sort of thing you should include. They are not all relevant to every case.

Author Notes: This section is not required. But include thanks here if you have people or institutions to thank (Like food service, or other people who gave you permission to collect your data, or people who helped with the design).

Author Bios: Here you may be more informal. Say something interesting about each of the authors. Font size here can be smaller than regular text (e.g. 12 or 14).

 

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