Consider readability and style

Readability (see also Chapter 5) is of primary importance with a poster. The title needs to be legible from a distance of 5 to 10 meters if it is to catch people's attention; then, because viewers generally stand 1 to 2 meters away as they read a poster (Davis, 2005), it must be clearly legible at that distance to keep their attention.

Readability depends on the size and style of type. Common typefaces generally recommended for titles include Helvetica, Tahoma, and similar block sans serif styles. A mix of capital letters and lowercase is easier to read than all capitals. These same typefaces may be used for text, or choose a conservative serif type such as Times New Roman, Bookman Old Style, or Palatino Linotype. Use italics only where scientifically required.

Text readability also depends on line length. (With current software and a wide sheet of paper, you could actually produce a one-page poster containing a single line of type two meters long - imagine the nightmare of trying to read it!) Use short expanses of text and short paragraphs. Good limits would be fewer than 65 characters and spaces per line and no more than 20 lines of text in a section. Whenever possible, present material in lists rather than sentences. Sections such as Objectives and Conclusions especially benefit from this.

To be viewed to best advantage, graphics also must be large and may need to be simplified. Davis (2005) provides a number of useful guidelines. For photographs to show at their best, they should be at least 5 inches by 8 inches (12 x 20 cm). Table entries should be limited to 20 items or fewer. Graphs should include no more than three or four lines or six to eight bars.

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