How to Create an Effective Conference Poster
Like presenting a conference paper, presenting a conference poster is a great way to showcase your research. Preparing an effective conference poster can attract attention and lead to meaningful interactions with other conference goers. However, if your conference poster is prepared poorly, you may be left standing awkwardly next to your poster while no one stops to read it. In this article, we outline how to create an effective conference poster.
Select the Right Conference
A well-prepared poster is ineffectual if presented at the wrong conference. Select a conference relevant to your research, and avoid predatory conferences.
Using software is key to preparing a great poster. We recommend using MS Powerpoint to prepare your conference poster. Alternatively, Gimp is great free image editor that can also work well.
To attract attention, your conference poster text needs to be easily read. Hard-to-read posters will often be skipped over by your target audience. A good rule of thumb is to have a poster that is readable from 1-2 meters (3-6 feet). Primarily, this means that you need to choose a font size that is large enough. A font size between 18-28 pt (if using MS Powerpoint) is the minimum you will want to use for the body text. Headings should be between 36-60 pt, and the title 72-100 pt.
Paragraphs of text are also difficult to read. Your conference poster needs to present your research concisely. Use graphics and tables wherever applicable. Also, use bullet points instead of paragraphs. Your poster word count should be less than 800.
Font choice for your conference poster will also affect readability. The first choice is whether to use a serif or sans serif font. Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, have small lines on the letters that aid readability. Serif fonts are great for small print. Sans serif fonts, such as Arial, do not have these small lines. Sans serif fonts are better for large print, such as posters.
Also, avoid the temptation to use “creative fonts” such as Comic sans, Curlz, or Vivaldi. They will be difficult to read and make your poster look amateurish. Stick with Arial or even Times New Roman.
A gray poster is a boring poster. Nobody wants to read a boring poster. Your graphics should not only have colour, but the colour should be appropriate. Firstly, be kind to your colour blind colleagues and avoid red and green, and these colour combinations: blue & purple, green & blue, light green & yellow.
For the entire poster (headings, graphics, logos) use colours that are harmonious, meaning that they look good together. There are several online tools that can help you choose colours that go well together.
For the background colour, generally a white background with black text is the easiest to read.
Figures and Graphics
Posters are generally large, therefore all figures and graphics need high resolution. Gimp is a free and open source software that can be used to make sure your figures and graphics are suitable for a conference poster. A poster with pixelated figures will look silly. First, save your figures and graphics, then import them into your preparation software. Saving your figures and graphics as vector files (.pdf or .eps) is best. High resolution .tiff or even .jpg will also work, but keep in mind that the minimum resolution should be 200 ppi when printed.
Do not ever print to 8×11 sheets of paper and present them together as your conference poster. Your “poster” will look very amateurish and unprofessional. Most posters are printed onto matte poster paper. Gloss poster paper can be difficult to read due to glare and should be avoided. Similarly, a lamented poster can also be difficult to read due to glare and should be avoided. If you do not want to fuss with poster tubes, posters can be printed onto fabric, which easily folds into your luggage.
Including an abstract on your conference poster is not necessary and wastes space. A conference poster is a summary of your research, and does not need a further summary on the poster. Your abstract should be available from the conference website or conference book.
Use a short, descriptive title to draw interest. The title should be clearly visible from 3 meters (10 feet).
Using a 4 column design (1:1:1:1) for conference posters is typical. At Sengi Data, we prefer to use a 1:1.5:1 design. This design puts emphasis on the results section. We have a free poster template available for download. Feel free to use it while you prepare your conference poster.
Presenting a conference poster is a great way to showcase your research. An effective conference poster will be easy to read from 3-6 feet, have an easy-to-read font and colour palette, utilize appropriate graphics, and be printed on high-quality poster material. By following our tips, you will create a compelling summary of your research.