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National Training Office June 13th, 2021
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Did Someone Say Research Poster?

Posted in: Blog

Did you get a research poster accepted at a conference lately? Congratulations! So did the NTO.

The NN/LM Training Office (NTO) had a poster accepted for the 2016 Joint conference of the Midcontinental and the Midwest MLA chapters and I have been tasked with doing a preliminary layout for the poster. So I set off into the Internet to find some help on designing a research poster.

Font size

Justin Matthews’ name popped up on several of the searches I did. Here is what he has to say about fonts: http://justinlmatthews.com/posterhelp/posterguide/

Why is font size important?

  • Font size can help draw your viewer’s eyes to specific parts of your poster.
  • Use font size to convey importance.

The following are font recommendations from Justin Matthews:

  • Title = 96pts
  • Author/institution line = 48pts
  • Section headings = 36pts
  • Body text = around 24pts for the
  • Don’t use any font that is smaller than 24pts (except for acknowledgements and/or references).
  • You can emphasize a word or sentence by using a bolded or italicized version of your font.
  • Try to avoid underlined text in a poster; it tends to crowd your white space.

More on font size: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~schne006/tutorials/poster_design/design_01.htm#legibletext

Poster Layout and the Serial Position Effect

Layout is important, but you probably already knew that. However, do you know why? While font size helps us distinguish what is and isn’t important, the placement of content can make people see what you want them to see.

Question: What is the Serial Position Effect?

Answer: People tend to remember the first and last items on a list; referred to as the Primacy Effect and the Recency Effect.

Question: What does this have to do with poster layout?

Answer: For a poster, the viewer’s eye moves from top-left downwards towards the lower-center and back up towards the right. To take advantage of what we know about eye movement, place the most important piece of information first, in the upper left.

Then, place the next most important item in the lower center; possibly a well-designed chart with interesting data.

Along the upper-center section (the middle), you can place images that relate to the research (if appropriate), but that are not crucial to your message. This is an area a lot of people don’t look at initially, so you don’t want to place highly relevant and interesting information along the top-center of the poster.

Lastly, place your conclusions at the top right or bottom right.

Read more about Serial Position Effect


More Help

And because we’re librarians, here are several LibGuides:

Good luck and happy poster season to you!

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