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07/24/2012

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David Morrow

I haven't looked through all the links from the RoME site, so some of this may be redundant. But here are a few thoughts, based on my seeing poster presentations at RoME last year and my giving a poster presentation at the American Geophysical Union in December:

(1) At most conferences, including RoME, you will spend some time standing by your poster to talk to interested parties, but your poster will also be available for viewing while you are not there. Thus, it should be able to say what you want to say without your help.

(2) Absolutely no fonts smaller than 16 points. Body text of 18 or 20 points is even better, if you can fit it.

(3) Use short line lengths (3 columns is pretty standard on a landscape-orientation poster). Use plenty of space between lines.

(4) Be concise. Use as little text as possible. If there's too much text, people will not read your poster.

(5) Have distinct, clearly marked sections (e.g., Background, Main Argument, Objections & Replies, References).

(6) Provide an argument map and/or diagrams, if possible. In the sciences, where poster presentations are common, posters contain lots of graphs, charts, maps, and other visual representations of the presenter's work. The only visual representations we can consistently use are argument maps. If you can use other diagrams (as you might if you were teaching your own paper to undergrads, for instance), consider using those, too.

(7) Be prepared for people to approach your poster, glance at the title for an eighth of a second, and say, "So...what's your poster about?"

Justin Snedegar

I presented a poster a couple of years ago at RoME. I really enjoyed it, and it helped me make some great professional connections. So I recommend really spending some time on the poster, to make it catch the eye. (If you're interested, I can send you mine -- just email me.)

Let me second the advice about using a pretty large, readable font and keeping blocks of text to a minimum. I organized my poster into outlined boxes to keep it readable.

That said, I think David's point (7) is important to keep in mind. Don't expect everyone to stand there and read your poster -- have a spiel ready to go. On the other hand, expect some people to stand there and read it, and then walk away without saying much of anything.

Finally, a suggestion about how to get the poster there: I just send a PDF to a print shop in Boulder (can't remember which one) and picked it up once I got there. I think the charge was something like 10 dollars for black & white, but would have been like 90 dollars for color -- stick with black and white; color isn't worth the price.

David Morrow

Let me second the advice about having your poster printed at the conference site if possible. Scientists buy fancy document tubes for transporting their posters (like this one: http://amzn.to/Qj4wHH), but that's because they do this sort of thing a lot and may present the same poster more than once.

The exception would be if you want color (which is nice, but expensive) and your university's print shop can do it much more cheaply than a commercial outfit can. ($90 is actually pretty good for a color poster, though.) In that case, it might be worth printing it at home and buying a document tube.

Marcus Arvan

Trevor: looking forward to seeing you at RoME! I gave a poster there last year and at the Eastern APA, and basically agree with everything David wrote. I think the temptation is to load the poster full of information, but from what I've seen this just makes the poster look cluttered and will put off visitors, who probably won't bother to read much of it. Better to highlight the "plot points" of the paper, and really boil down the paper's main argument in a very accessible way (it always struck me here that putting one's argument in big, bold Standard Form on the poster would grab people's attention and quickly put them in a position to discuss the paper with you further -- so I would definitely recommend that). Otherwise, my experience has been that the most successful posters stick to the "less is more" dictum. As long as you give people a clear and simple picture of what the paper does, I think you're golden. Good luck with it!

Clayton

I don't mean to be a contrarian, but I would not second (or third? or first?) the advice about having your poster printed at the site unless you know that you'll have easy access to a reliable printing service. That might be tricky, so you should check with the locals. I remember running into difficulty with this when I went to RoME. (If I recall, the conference organizer bailed me out.)

One thought. Consider having a handout +/or a copy of the paper that people can take with them.

RoME is a blast, have fun. I did a poster the first year I went and it was really helpful.

Moti Mizrahi

Trevor,

Here's a link to a copy of a poster I gave at the Eastern APA:

http://gc-cuny.academia.edu/MotiMizrahi/Talks/66884/The_role_of_justification_in_the_ordinary_concept_of_scientific_progress

It is rather cluttered, but it does have the main argument in premise-conclusion form as Marcus recommended.

Hope you'll find it helpful.

Best of luck!

Trevor Hedberg

Thanks for all the input, everyone. The good news regarding my topic is that the original paper already contained several graphs which were used to illustrate important points. So I don't think I'll have too much trouble making it visually appealing. For what it's worth, my plan is to make the poster here in Knoxville using the university's printing services. I have an old document tube that will easily fit my poster. It isn't as fancy as the one that David linked to above, but it will work just fine.

I will probably add a supplementary handout that people could take with them, which seems important but isn't something I had originally given much thought.

Peter Nichols

I agree with most of what's been said here--especially the part about keeping text to a minimum (even though I have now violated this guideline for the third time with my third RoME poster.)

I thought it would be worth adding an additional point to what's been said. Don't overthink your poster. It doesn't have to be perfect. Both times I've been to RoME there has been a lot of variety in poster style and quality. People don't pass by a poster just because it doesn't have a flashy layout or catchy diagrams.

That said, they will likely pass it over if there is way too much text or it is difficult to follow (not enough bold headings and/or boxes, text not clearly separated, etc.). Alternativly, as has been pointed out above, they may just ask you to explain it.

Have fun with it. These poster presentations are laid back and a great way to meet people.

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