Preparing Effective Posters in General (from Animal Behavior Society, 2008).
An effective poster has neither the page-by-page format of a journal article nor the minimalism of slides in a verbal presentation. A poster should be self-contained and self explanatory, allowing viewers to proceed on their own while leaving the author free to discuss points raised in inquiry. It should have an effective balance of figures and text. The amount of text should be sufficient to explain the figures, but kept to the minimum necessary for presenting the main points of the poster. The poster session offers a more intimate forum for discussion than a slide presentation, but discussion becomes difficult if the author has to devote most of their time explaining the poster to a succession of
viewers. In the busy environment of the poster sessions most viewers will not force themselves to read your poster's text for more than a few minutes. Thus, anyone reading your poster should be able to pull out the central message in seconds.
PRINT SIZE AND MATERIAL
Posters should attach easily to a surface with pushpins. For effective use of this space, organize illustrations and text using a grid plan. Arrange materials in columns rather than rows. It is easier for viewers to scan a poster by moving systematically along it rather than by zig-zagging back and forth in front of it. Place your most significant findings at eye level immediately below the title bar, and the supporting data and/or text in the lower panels. For conventional multi-panel posters, four to five columns can be formed using poster elements printed on 11" wide paper (or 29-30 cm wide A4 or B5 paper) with suitable spacing or borders. Materials may be mounted on colored poster board. You may
want to group logically consistent sections or columns of the poster on backgrounds of the same color. Background colors should be muted; shades of gray are also effective. More information on Power-point generated posters is given below.
Prepare a banner for the top of the poster indicating the abstract title, author(s) and affiliation(s). Lettering should be at least one inch high. You may include a longer and more informative subtitle.
Figures should be designed to be viewed from a distance and should use clear, visible graphics and large type. Color can be effective if used sparingly; use saturated dark colors on white or pale backgrounds and rich, light colors on dark backgrounds. Remember that 10% of your male viewers cannot distinguish red and green (blue stands out to them). Although each figure should illustrate no more than one or two major points, figures need not be simple. The main points should be clear without extended viewing (many people will be in a hurry), but detail can be included for the aficionado. The sequence of illustrations or panels should be indicated with numbers or letters at least one inch high. (Omit "Fig." or "Figure"; it is unnecessary and occupies too much space.)
Each figure or table should have a heading of one or two lines in very large type stating the "take-home" message. Additional essential information should be provided below in a legend set in 16 point or larger type. If you cannot read the poster comfortably from a meter's distance, the text is too small or too dense. Minimize Narrative. The introduction should be no longer than a traditional abstract. Text that would normally appear in the body (Results and Discussion) of a manuscript can be integrated in figure legends. It should describe concisely not only the content of the figure but also the conclusions that are derived. Details of methodology should be brief and should be placed at the end of each legend. Use large type in short, separated paragraphs with unjustified (ragged right) margins (i.e. just like in these instructions). Numbered or bulleted lists are very effective ways to convey a series of points.