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Designing a Poster for CSC

Use Interesting Content

Your poster should divide your content into sections (think of a poster like a visual of a written paper). Most posters will include large chunks of text that is carefully selected to offer the viewer a snapshot of the topic. You will use a blend of imagery (pictures, charts, graphs, etc.) with text--all formatted in a way that makes the text easy to read at a glance.

  1. Choose the right sub-headings. Your poster should have a title as a whole--but you should also employ sub-headings for each section of your poster. The headings don’t have to be traditional, and something a little different can really help pull people in. Instead of “Intro,” “Methods,” and “Conclusion,” you can use something more descriptive and engaging to draw people in.
  2. Use big images. Pictures help gain attention and are visually interesting. As long as they’re relevant, they are a great use of poster space. Always include a caption to your images.
  3. Keep graphs simple. Like images, graphs are an exceptional way to demonstrate your research and keep your audience paying attention. The problem occurs when the graphs are too complicated. They should be easy to read and understand, so keep them as simple as possible.
  4. Emphasize pull out quotes. A pull quote is a piece of text that you take from your poster and enlarge. These quotes should be important or interesting parts of your research that you want to draw attention to. Not only do these help guide your readers to the most important and memorable information, but they make your poster more visually attractive.

Include Only What Is Necessary

You don’t have a lot of space to work with on a poster, so you have to make sure everything that’s on there is important. The following list gives examples of what you don’t need, and why you don’t need it.

  1. No abstract. Unless you are required by certain professional societies to include an abstract, it doesn’t make sense to include your abstract on your poster. Your poster is already a summary of your research; including another summary is redundant.
  2. No busy background images. Although it may seem that having a large, visually attractive image as a background might draw attention to your poster and allow you to include an image without wasting space, it is generally a bad idea. These images tend to distract from the content of your poster without providing anything useful.
  3. No drop shadows and bevels. These visual aspects not only make text less readable, but they force you to use more space for each element than otherwise necessary. The only time this is useful is when you are trying to make text over an image more visible.

Make the Poster Visually Appealing

Your content is only as good as the design you put it in. When your poster looks nice, people will be more interested. Try these tips to make your poster more visually appealing.

  1. Include calculated blank space. You don’t have a lot of space on a poster, so it’s tempting to try to cram as much information as possible into every nook and cranny. Don’t make this mistake. When you purposefully include blank space, it is easier to find, identify, and understand the information that is included. Increasing the space between columns or boxes or widening the margins inside of a box is an easy way to accomplish this.
  2. Customize fonts. Using fonts that are professional and easy to read, but still a little bit different, can help your poster stand out from the rest. You can have a different font for headings, captions, body text, and accent text, but you shouldn’t have more than that. Be consistent in the fonts you use--every heading should be the same font; all body text the same; all captions the same, etc.
  3. Use color. You can stand out from other posters by including aesthetically pleasing, complimentary colors instead of the standard light blue. When doing this, however, be careful to choose colors that aren’t too bright or difficult to read.