here for print
for poster presentations at scientific
Dr. Pamela Alean-Kirkpatrick
with all presentations, it should be clear what the main
aim of this poster presentation is: presentation of new
results, presentation of a new method, discussion of
conflicting measurements etc. Your poster should clearly
reflect this aim in the title and/or in its structure (how
much space you allocate to which part), and in the
presentations differ from oral presentations mainly by the
fact that your audience is not a captive one:
individuals have to come to you. At a poster session,
members of your audience often apply a set of
criteria as to whether or not they will finally start to
discuss your work with you.
Make your poster attractive and inviting to
read. Try to make it stand out from the others and
- Your title is a condensed statement of the
main aim of your poster, e.g. new method,
interesting results, interesting
- Make it large and clear! Include
author(s) name(s) and address. It should be
easily readable from a distance of 5
- How about a headline (everyday
language, understandable to a larger audience)
rather than a title?
- Make it as interesting as possible:
in question form, unusual choice of words. Take
care not to overdo the gimmicks to the extent
that the scientific impact suffers.
Good visual impact
- At least 50% of the surface area is to be
used for photos, graphs, diagrams: posters with
less than 50% graphics are uninviting. If you
are forced to display words, use flow diagrams,
key-word lists, simple concept maps or selective
- Minimum amount of text: ´the less - the
betterª (see below)
- Clear structure and layout (see below)
- Good use of colour: be able to justify your
use of colour (highlighting, structuring). Use
black or dark blue for text. Too much colour can
- Use objects if possible: mount small
instruments, plant specimens, rocks on an
appropriate place on the poster: ´TOUCH
- One or two large, high quality photographs
Make your poster easy to read and easy to
follow. Provide visual instead of written
information wherever possible.
In the last few years, the advancement
of computer graphics and sophisticated
printing facilities have provided the
opportunity to first generate a background
underlay of a relevant photograph (e.g.
machine, cell structure, landscape) over
the whole poster area before the text,
graphs, tables and other diagrams or
photographs are positioned. While making
the poster attractive visually, thereby
increasing the ´LOOK-AT-MEª
effect, the readability of the poster is
often severely impaired.
By all means utilise the effect of an
underlay, but take great care that it does
not affect the poster’s
The quality of the contrast
(text-graphics, colour contrasts) on the
computer screen does not, unfortunately,
match that of the printer. Always check
the contrast and readability against the
chosen background on a smaller A4 or A3
print before plotting the full-size
- Concentrate on "need to have" not "nice to
have". The shorter the
text, the greater the chance that people will
read your poster. Reduce the text to
the minimum: use key words and lists, not
full sentences. Few people can read more than
2-3 sentences comfortably and easily when they
are standing in front of a poster. Avoid
superfluous information (e.g. "shake for 5
minutes" in the section on method). Do not
write: "This poster shows . . . ."
- Use a large font (minimum 7 mm).
- Use generous line spacing (as least 1 mm
larger than font size).
- Never copy A4-text pages on to your
poster. If you do so, you discourage potential
readers (´killer postersª). If you
want to provide interested persons with more
information or text, hang an envelope containing
copies of your full paper under the poster.
- Allocate a specific font / style / colour to
subtitles to distinguish them clearly from the
rest of the text.
- All figures should have self-explanatory
captions and legends.
- Utilise two columns for the layout (or three
for wide-format posters)
- Designate distinct areas for aims,
introduction, method, results, conclusions,
perspectives (coloured background, coloured
frames or bars). Conclusions often get placed at
the end, at the bottom edge and can easily get
"lost". Make them stand out (coloured
background, larger font).
- Make it clear in which order the
poster should be read: use (large) numbers,
- You may want to list a few key references in
a corner of your poster. They need not dominate
and can be displayed in a smaller font.
Posters are an ideal instrument for not only
presenting your work but also for discussing it
with other interested scientists and engineers. You
can encourage this contact when you design your
- Show provocative material and declare it as
such! e.g., conflicting or surprising results,
comparisons with work of other scientists, loose
ends. Use this opportunity to display unsolved
questions for work in progress.
- Place large question marks on results you
find unusual or inexplicable.
- Build in interactive elements e.g.
transparencies to hold on top of graphs to show
parallel series of measurements.
- Choose the vocabulary according to the
audience you are addressing. Write acronyms out
in full the first time they appear.
- Mathematical or statistical formulae should
only be displayed if they are central to the
main message and if appropriate to the
- Consider providing a handout of your aims
and conclusions in a second language (e.g., your
native tongue) to overcome potential language
the participants of the workshop ´Powerful
Postersª at the Postgraduate Conference in Terrestrial
Ecology, ETH Z¸rich, 27.11.96, for their valuable
contributions to these guidelines for poster
constructive ideas as to how these guidelines can be
improved are gratefully received and should be sent to
or to PD
Dr. Christian Sengstag.
DiZ_Poster.html / Letzte nderung 5. Feb. 2001