I was invited to give a brief talk to a UCL Graduate School Training course on good academic poster design. I have only designed a couple of posters myself but found the process very rewarding. I prepared a few slides (although wasn’t asked to present them) so I have uploaded them here.
In the presentation I included 5 tips based from my own experiences. They are listed below with a few ‘bonus’ tips arising from the questions/ comments I received at the end of the session:
1. Know your audience and the likely environment the poster will be displayed in. My first poster was designed to be displayed all day in a spacious, non-crowded, environment. There is a lot (probably too much) of text as I hoped those interested would take the time to read it. The text and images were designed to ensure that people could get what the poster was about by just reading the first lines. The intended audience were non-specialists. My second poster is designed for a conference setting. The display environment was likely to be crowded with less time for people to read the poster. With this in mind I have reduced the amount of text and simplified the design.
2. Know when to stop! Perhaps I should have headed my own advice in the first poster. Cramming the poster with everything you have ever done does not impress. You run the risk of making things look cluttered. It is surprisingly hard to distil your research into a few key sentences but well worth the effort. People have short concentration spans so it is better to get a few simple points across well than no complex points at all. You will find that getting this right takes most of the time.