The poster session
A dedicated block of time in the conference program has been set aside for the poster session. Poster presenters will be rostered to stand with their poster for part of the session. but will have an opportunity to see other posters as well. The poster session will be a catered event. More detail about the structure of the session will be available shortly.
The posters will be displayed on room divider/poster display boards with one side of each divider dedicated for a single poster. You should plan to keep your poster information to a 6′ (180cm) wide by 4′ (120cm) high area on the divider. However, in practice most posters are best kept to an A0 poster size of approximately 120cm by 84cm (in either orientation). This is the size that people generally expect to see and there are poster templates available to assist in preparation, and poster production services will generally handle posters of this size. We have listed a number of resource sites below to assist you.
Some presenters may wish to prepare the poster presentation as series of smaller pages of A4 or A3 size. You should plan these so that the arrangement on the board does not exceed a 180cm by 120cm area.
There are now many excellent sources of advice on how to get the most out of a poster. We have simply summarised some key points from these resources here as a starting point.
A reader has difficulty following long lines of text from a typical poster viewing distance, so most posters use 3-5 columns depending on orientation. A large heading spanning the whole poster block is typical, incorporating the poster title, authors and affiliations (often including institutional crests or logos).
The poster content may follow the typical report structure of introduction, method, results, discussion, but each section should be reduced to the key points as much as possible. Given that some posters may have a life beyond the conference, it may be appropriate to include some elements with that longer-term purpose in mind (but that are not so easily read during the poster session) but these elements should not be essential to the message of the poster.
It s generally recommended to consider communicating key points or findings using graphs, diagrams, or images as much as possible instead of complex text or tables. Communicating key elements of the poster in point form is also common. Avoid long flowing paragraphs of complex prose. Avoid block left and right margins – it makes it harder for the eye to keep track of where you are at a distance. Ragged-right margins are much easier on the eye. Don’t be afraid to use white space; overly dense posters exhaust the reader and the key points are more easily missed. Also keep iin mind where your conclusion will end up on the poster board and avoid dense conclusions in small print below knee level!
It is better to err on the side of using larger fonts wherever possible. Some suggestions are: for the main title, 85 pt; authors and affiliations, around 56pt; Subheads should be around 36 pt and body text 24pt. Figure and Table captions might work at 18 pt.
Diagrams, graphs, and images should be of a reasonable size. One good recommendation is to aim for figures of about 13 by 18 cms at a resolution of about 180 dpi. Much higher resolutions or much larger figures may make your file unnecessarily large and unwieldy.
If you are unsure about what sizes to use, you can always use a variation on a classic technique for posters – print off your design to an A4 page on transparancy film and use an OHP to blow it up to the appropriate size on a wall – stand back about 2 meters and see if all the material is easily read.
Check out your local poster production options. Find out whether they can print directly from a powerpoint template and make sure the sizes are compatible. We have included some links below with some templates to get you started, but your local production service may also have templates. You should also check out whether your local service produce a laminated finish as well and make sure that your finished poster is small enough to go through the available laminating machines.
It is a common practice in poster sessions (though not essential) to have a handout available as a supplement for those who want to take away the key message of the presentation and/or more detail. While a poster should be self-contained as a presentation and not rely on supplementary information, handouts are an excellent place to include details which take away from the visual impact of the poster itself. For example, abstracts, references, and complex statistical details or large tables (such as full correlation matrices or regression tables) can be included on a handout with only the key elements or a summary represented on the poster itself.
There are lots of sites with very useful advice. Each site gives a slightly different flavour, so we have included several to peruse for advice and ideas:
[Thanks to Ken Mavor for kindly allowing us to reproduce his excellent guidelines from SASP 2006.]