- Make the content "flow" from upper left to lower right, as if the reader were looking at a newspaper.
- If you organize a poster to compare and contrast, use opposite sections of the poster and make sure the two sides balance.
- Use meaningful headings for sections.
- Make your poster readable from five feet away. Font size should be at least 20 points, but 24 points is better as a minimum.
- Since even legends and map details should be clear from several feet away, make images and maps fairly large and reduce long segments of text.
- Try to keep the amount of text down to 800 words or fewer.
- Use one font for all of the body text and one for the titles, although you may use bold and italic fonts for emphasis. A serif font like Times is easier for people to read in print; a non-serif ("sans serif") font is easier to read as a title. Times is a recommended font for the body, and Helvetica is good for titles.
- Use mixed title-case for titles. Do NOT use all caps for titles.
- Use italics rather than underlining.
- Make all margins even, especially on the bottom.
- Leave text left-justified, although you should center titles.
- Use images only if they are meaningful and make a point; do not use them merely as decoration.
- Use bullet points rather than a lot of text.
- Give the reader the context for the poster. Why did you research this problem?
- Do not include all of the references from your paper; refer only to those cited on the poster itself. But, make SURE you cite the source of your images if you did not create them yourself.
Charts and Graphs
- Use labels rather than keys or legends on graphs. For instance, use percentages on pie pieces in a pie chart, especially if the differences in size are not obvious.
- Include legends for charts and graphs if you cannot put labels on them.
- Use captions for charts and graphs (i.e. "Figure 1") and refer to those captions in the text.
- Experiment with different ways to convey your information visually. For example, try using an organizational chart or a flow chart to replace explanatory text.
- Stick to the same color family--all cool (blue) tones or all warm (red) tones for the whole poster.
- Make sure that your gradients are even and linear. For instance, go from very light to very dark in the same color family to show increased density of a phenomenon.
- Do not use yellow against a white background; high contrast is better. For instance, use black or navy against white.
- Use dark print on a white background. Do not use white or light print against a dark background. This wastes a lot of ink when printing!
- Use color to make a point if associations exists. For instance, green = good financial trends, and red = bad financial trends. Or cluster groups and represent them by colors. (See Gapminder.org as an example.) But remember that not everyone can distinguish between green and red, so also use labels.
- Avoid distortions. Maps, for instance, should be in standard orientation, not tilted.
- Avoid using images downloaded from the leb. The resolution (dpi) is usually 72 dpi, which is far too low for printing (usually 200-300 dpi).
- Acknowledge the sources of images that you did not produce yourself.
- Under the "Design" tab, select "Page Set-up." The norm at Grinnell is to use a landscape slide with a width of 46" and a height of 36". To set these exact parameters, choose a Custom size.
- When making your poster, be sure not to run the text or pictures right to the edge.
- Under the "View" tab, choose to display the ruler and grids. These will not show on the poster, but will help you with design.
- Right-click on the background of the poster slide and select Grid and Guide. Choose to snap your objects to the grid. This will allow you to align your text and pictures.
- Zoom in and look at the poster, alternating between "fit to page" and 100% to make sure it looks good.