Thanks to Geoff Hyde for putting together these guidelines.
Do not mail your poster presentation in advance - print it and bring it with you to the meeting.
The orientation of your poster can be either landscape or portrait, but please ensure that the poster size does not exceed the following dimensions irrespective of its orientation: 3ft (wide) x 4ft (high).
Your poster will be allotted a number and you should display your poster only on the poster board that matches this number. Please contact the registration desk for additional details. Please ensure that you remove your poster, latest by 2.30 pm on the last day of the conference. Please make sure you are present at your poster during the poster sessions, to answer questions. All posters are divided into three groups (A, B & C) to be presented in turn, with one day of the conference for each group. This schedule is designed such that all poster presenters get an opportunity to present their own poster as well as attend posters presented by their colleagues.
At poster sessions, many posters are presented simultaneously, so you need to compete for audience attention. Your poster should therefore be bold, well-designed and attractive, even maybe a bit provocative to catch people's attention. It should be easily readable from a distance of 1.8m (6 feet). Remember that some people will read your poster when you are not there in front of it. This means that even without explanation, the poster should make sense. This does not mean however that it should be comprehensive, rather it should present a simple story, just like your conference abstract. Therefore, limit yourself to the key aspects of your work.
1. Try to produce your entire poster on a single piece of paper
A lot of design problems arise when a poster is made from a large number of small pieces of paper. The worst case is using a bunch of A4-sized sheets. This will almost inevitably lead to use of fonts that are too small to read. Also, the gaps between the pages create unwanted breaks (both logical and visual) in the flow of your poster. The easiest way to create a single-piece poster is using the custom settings of Powerpoint or some equivalent.
The text of the poster should start in the upper left hand corner. From here, the poster should flow from left to right and top to bottom, using columns if needed. You may wish to use letters, numbers, or arrows as needed to indicate the proper flow to the audience.
There are pre-created templates for designing posters in MS PowerPoint. Some of these can be found at:
2. Too much text = loss of audience interest = death of poster
What kills most posters is too much text. Avoid full paragraphs. Bullet points are much better than full sentences. See if you can replace text with something more visually appealing, e.g. a map, a flowchart or a self-explanatory picture. As a general rule, the word count should not exceed 600 words. A good way to achieve this is to aim for about 400 words.
A very rough guide
Introduction: 150 words
Materials & methods: 150 words
Results: 150 words
Discussion/Conclusions: 150 words
References - only include references vital to your work. These should ideally be in much smaller font size than the body text.
Acknowledgments - keep them brief, and use a smaller font size.
3. Keep it simple
Ask yourself at every step:
Have I used many words instead of a few?
This is especially useful while presenting results.
Have I used any jargon?
Jargon is highly technical language, which, chances are, only your supervisor and (some) lab-mates will understand. So replace, for example, 'kleptoparasitism' with 'stealing'. It is much simpler to understand, has fewer syllables, and you will not have to explain it to each person who starts to read your poster.
4. Use clear headings and sub-headings
These will help people navigate through your poster even if you are not there to explain it to them. Usually poster headings follow roughly the format of a paper but do not include abstract.
Title - should be large, catchy, and a maximum of two lines in length. The title must be at the top of the board.
Introduction - in this section you are expected
It is important to understand and make clear the difference between your aim and objectives. Aim-level questions generally address real issues (e.g. What is the abundance of chevrotain in Bandipur National Park? Is harvesting of forest products in the Great Himalayan National Park increasing or decreasing? How many ground-dwelling skink species live in the forests of Mouling National Park?).
Objective-level questions are much more specific and they are focussed on providing data that can provide insights into the aim-level question (e.g. What is the photo capture-recapture density estimate of chevrotain in Bandipur NP? What do villagers living on the edge of GHNP say about the intensity of their forest-harveting harvesting practises in 2010 compared to 2000? Which ground-dwelling skink species are captured in pit-fall traps set up in the three altitudinal zones of Mouling National Park?)
Study area (if important) - a map here is better than text
Materials and methods - this is potentially one of the most boring parts of a study, and a graphic or flowchart helps a great deal in keeping the audience interested. Also, look for opportunities to keep the objectives fresh in your audience's mind, by linking your methods to the objectives.
Results - The results provide the answers to the objective-level questions only - do not stray into discussing the aim-level question. Since objectives typically generate data, the core of the Results section will be graphs, tables etc.. Neat, well-labeled graphs with self-explanatory legends are much better than text. A good thing to remember when making graphs is that the graph should be a stand-alone explanation without having to refer to any other text.
Conclusions - The discussion component must firstly, and compulsorily, tell the audience how the results help answer the aim-level question. After having discussed the connection between the results and your aim, you can then (optionally) consider the wider implications of your proposed answers, or suggestions for further work. The conclusions should, ideally, be bulleted.
5. Use consistent formatting
A very useful way of formatting your poster to improve readability and comprehension is to make your poster 'modular'. In other words, having separate boxes for Introduction, Methods etc., with enough separation between the boxes. This allows the audience to skip parts like the methods and go straight to the discussion or conclusion sections.
A poster should have a lot of empty space (about 35%). This does not mean that:
Avoid using more than:
2 font types
2 font colours
3 font sizes
Too many format changes make the audience focus on the formatting rather than on the content.
Font types: there are two types of fonts: serif fonts like Times New Roman and sans serif fonts (which don't have the small things sticking out at the angles of the letters) like Arial. Serif fonts are easier to read in books and papers. Sans serif fonts are easier to read on screen or on posters. That's why most people prefer using sans serif fonts in posters and PowerPoint presentations.
Font sizes: A rough guide to font sizes -
Title: 150 pt
Section headings: 36 pt
Body text: 26 pt
Text justification: Text is easier to read when left justified rather than when justified to the left and the right.
6. Use colour wisely
Posters are basically a visual medium of presenting data, and colour can help draw people to your poster and help you to present your message. However, if used unwisely, colours can make your poster less attractive and more confusing. Colours should be well co-coordinated and their use consistent throughout. For example, be consistent in the colours (and font type/size) used for subheadings. It is better to err on the side of too little colour than too much!
7. QR Code
At SCCS- Bangalore, we recommend (not compulsory) that all poster presenters include a QR Code at the bottom right corner of your poster.
This can be a 2cm * 2cm square.
What is a QR Code?
QR code is a matrix type barcode which when scanned with simple devices like smartphones can lead you to a url or complete a specific action.
Some details at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code
How does it work?
Add a QR code to your poster and anyone with a smart phone and a free QR code reading application can scan your QR code to get your contact details, affiliation, abstract details etc. very quickly.
How do I add a QR Code to my poster?
Which apps can read QR Codes?
Search on Google Play Store or iTunes Store for a free app. There are many.
How can I read a QR Code?
Use any QR Code scanning application on a mobile device connected to internet (available at SCCS venue) and point to the QR Code. This should take you to the web-page of your abstract.
What if I don’t have a smart phone?
If you cannot read a QR Code, you cannot access the website through the code. But there may be others who have a smart phone and can contact you easier this way.
Can I give my QR code for my friend to use in his/her poster?
No, please ask your friend to generate his/her own QR Codes.
Each QR Code is specific to only one url. If you interchange or exchange QR Codes on the posters, only the url used to create the QR Code will work irrespective of which poster it is pasted on.
Part of this information was sourced from Umesh Srinivasan, NCBS, and Jason Tylianakis, University of Canterbury, New Zealand and http://www.conbio.org/
For more guidelines on designing conservation posters please see http://www.conbio.org/professional-development/advice-for-students/help-designing-posters