Vox California Cultural meanings of Linguistic Diversity April 3-4, 2009 UC Santa Barbara
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Poster Guidelines

Size limit: 44" high, 68" wide (recommended 36" x 48")

Planning Your Poster
Start early, especially if you've never created a poster before. You may need to digitize images or create figures, or you may need to schedule assistance from a professional designer (which could take several weeks). Start by finding out what poster design resources are available on your campus. Also find out where to get access to a poster printer and what dimensions it will print. “Vox California” may be able to provide a stipend to help you produce a professional-quality poster; stipend information will be announced later.

Tip: Some universities have poster printers available for campus use, generally at a lower cost than Kinko’s. You will probably need to make a reservation a week or more in advance.

A poster should emphasize one key idea and clearly demonstrate it. Choose what key idea you want to focus on and how you can best support it through visual (and, secondarily, textual) means.

Designing Your Poster
Follow the structure of an academic paper. Include the title, your name, affiliation, and email address, possibly a brief (50-word) abstract, and section headings followed by bullet points outlining your theoretical framework, methodology, illustrative data and analysis, and a brief conclusion. References need not be included, but a few key references can be listed if you have room.

Go digital. Your poster should be produced by computer and printed on a high-quality color poster printer. This makes the poster easier to read and ensures that you can easily obtain another copy of any material that gets damaged. Moreover, after the conference is over we would like to make the posters available on the Web in a longterm virtual poster session, and material must be digitized in order to be included.

Use the poster medium effectively. Posters are an increasingly common form of scholarly communication, and like any other presentation they must be designed with care. DO NOT simply print out PowerPoint slides or pages of a Word document and mount them on a poster board (however, PowerPoint can be used to create . Instead, create a full-sized poster with all the information framed as a unified whole. If you’re unable to arrange for an experienced designer to assist you, use a program like Adobe Illustrator to design your own poster. See the URLs below for tips in getting started.

Take advantage of the medium. Wherever possible, use visual aids rather than text to communicate ideas: photographs, drawings, frame grabs, tables, charts, and graphs. Color is an important tool not only for making your poster visually interesting but also for presenting data. 

Avoid clutter. Keep the text in the poster to a minimum. Use bullet points rather than full sentences to communicate the main issues. Interested audience members can get the details from your handout (see below). Use white space to break up text into a more visually appealing format as well as to section the elements of the poster. Include visual material only when it enhances the presentation; don't add in distracting clip art. (If you don’t have images of your own to use, you can sometimes purchase illustrative images from photo image banks; a professional designer can also help with this.) Don't use a lot of bright colors; two or three colors is usually enough. Print large blocks of text in black only; colors may be used for titles and headings, but choose ones that are easy to read. (One authority recommends 20% text, 40% graphics and 40% empty space; another recommends no more than 500 words of text total.)

Ensure legibility. Make sure your poster can be read by nearsighted academics from at least 6 feet away; most experts recommend that you use at least 18- to 24-point font for text and a much larger font size for your title (the larger the better, within reason). Avoid italics and elaborate or script fonts. Use no more than one or two different fonts for the poster.

Proofread carefully! Printing a poster is expensive, so make sure your text is error-free before you print.

Transporting and Setting Up Your Poster

Protect it. A mailing tube may be used to transport your poster, or you may wrap it in sturdy corrugated cardboard. Do not ever carry your poster unprotected; it can be easily damaged.

Set up early. Poster easels are first come, first served. Arrive early and choose a good spot. More elaborate setups will need more time. If you want to supplement your poster with video or audio clips on your laptop (see below), bring headphones so audience members can listen to them. An extension cord and duct tape to prevent tripping is also advisable.

Presenting Your Poster

Give a brief oral overview. When someone approaches you, launch into a brief, clear, well-planned statement of what your project is about (topic, setting, findings). This should be no more than one minute long (ideally less). Then let the audience member ask questions and/or read the poster and handout.  You should be as prepared as if you were going to give an oral presentation, but the goal is to have a more informal back-and-forth exchange.

Be available. Don't wander away from your poster, and don't hover while people view your materials. Give them only as much information as they seem to want, but don't be shy about giving more information when people are interested. If you want to check out others’ posters, do so before or after the official poster session.

Provide audio and video data. When appropriate, it can be very useful to play a tape or CD with no more than about a minute total of audio or video data, supplemented by a transcript on a handout.

Bring handouts and other supplemental materials. A brief handout can supplement the poster, but the poster should make sense without it. Handouts are best used for detailed data presentation (e.g., long transcripts or detailed tables or figures) or for use with audiovisual materials, so the audience doesn't need to be able to stand in front of the poster to follow along on the transcript. If you can share audio or video materials (e.g., on CD) or supply them on your website, you'll be guaranteed to be the most popular presenter at the conference. People love to have such materials for teaching purposes. Have 50 to 75 handouts on hand.

Get to know your audience. Find out who they are and what they're working on. You may make a valuable contact with someone who shares your research interests.

Sources

Poster and Presentation Resources
The Graduate School, University of North Carolina
A wealth of links with instructions on using design software and creating effective posters.

Designing a Poster
University of Leicester
A 20-minute interactive tutorial on the basics of poster design.

Poster Printing and Design
Daniel E. Weber
Instructions in how to use Adobe Illustrator.

Preparing and Designing an Academic Poster for Printing
Jeanne Stephens
Basic information about how to use PowerPoint for poster design.

UC Santa Barbara web link