Poster guidelines

Creating a Scientific Poster

Choose the visual elements Posters are visual.  Choose graphs, data tables, mechanisms, structures, etc. that tell your story visually.  Think about your poster in terms of 8 or 9 regions, where each region is a graphic or a bulleted list.  A typical poster will have

1.       Introduction, background, main question

2.       Methods & Materials

3.       Data & Results

4-7.More Data & Results

8.       Conclusions, take home message

9.       Future studies, acknowledgements, references

Obviously, you need to adapt this to your needs.  It is okay to have 8 or 11 regions.  The regions don't all need to be the same size.    If your poster is going off campus, you'll also want to include the Roanoke College logo (the accepted versions of this logo can be found on the Inquire website) and/or "Roanoke College, Salem VA" under your authors list.  

Arrange the visual elements Your poster will be viewed by crowds.  It must be readable from 3 feet away without viewers needing to move back and forth in front of each other.  For this reason, arrange your 9 (or so) regions in one or two vertical columns.  

Create the poster in PowerPoint Create your poster as a single PowerPoint slide.  Set up the page to be 40-48" tall and 36" wide.  (Unless you need different dimensions for an off-campus meeting.)  To do this in PowerPoint 2007, choose Design, Page Setup, and then enter the height and width values.  Each of your regions is inserted as a text box, table, or graphic.   Choose a simple font (e.g. Calibri or Arial) and keep the font size large.  Titles work well in 100 point.  The authors list below the title works well in 48 or 54 point.  Headings also work well in these font sizes.  Bulleted lists and other text work well in 36 point font.  Be sure that labels on graphs and data in tables are sized to at least 24 point.  Do not go smaller than these suggested sizes!  Visitors will not read small text, or text sections that are too long.   Keep high contrast between your text and background.  In general, light backgrounds with dark text work best.  If you go with a dark background, you will need to put more effort into creating easily viewed figures.  

Use the Align tool Do not try to eyeball placement of your visual elements.  What looks OK on screen may be ½ an inch off when printed.  Select the objects that should be aligned (use shift-click), then under the Home tab, go to Arrange, and Align.  Use vertical and horizontal align on appropriate boxes.  (NOTE: before you align, you may need to use the "Group" function to make some items behave as one.  For instance, if you have a picture in the middle of a text box, use Group on them before aligning that text box to another text box.)  Similarly, you may want to manually set some objects to be the same width.  This can be done under the "format" tab, which appears when you select an item.  

Proofread! Poster printing is expensive.  Make sure you (and your research mentor) have thoroughly checked all the text for any typographical issues.  

Get a second opinion Project your slide onto the screen in one of the classrooms.  Get several people to look at the slide.  Ask them to be very critical about layout, size of print, etc.  Colors tend to wash out when projected, so don't worry about that.  Focus on clarity, size of items, etc.  

Getting it printed Save your slide as a pdf file (Windows button, Save As, pdf).  Send both the pptx file and the pdf to Dr. Brenzovich.  Dr. Brenzovich will arrange to have the poster printed.  The Chemistry Department will keep your poster after you are done with it so that it can be displayed in the future.   Tips

  • Avoid super-busy backgrounds/templates.  What looks OK on your monitor will probably be distracting at three feet wide

  • Choose a few attractive colors and use them cohesively.  If you have graphs, match the colors in the graph to the rest of the poster.

  • Avoid huge tables of numbers.  Use a graph instead.

  • Always check the dimensions of the poster boards available before creating your poster.  The dimensions listed above may not be appropriate for where you are going with the poster.

  • The Roanoke College logos available through PR are too low resolution. Ask Dr. Brenzovich for a better one, or render your own.  (That's a pain.  Just ask.)

  • If you have images without clear borders, click the image, then under format, try some of the borders available.