The School of Computing’s end-of-semester poster session provides students an opportunity to present their results from class projects and research papers to faculty and fellow students. Poster session presentations are a popular format for disseminating technical innovations at professional conferences, because they typically allow for more in-depth discussions with colleagues than formal oral presentations.
For the School of Computing poster session, students create full-color, content-rich, professional-looking posters that they present to the public during an hour-long poster session. The following guidelines are meant to be general suggestions on how to create a professional technical poster. Students should consult with their professor to insure that they meet the specific class requirements for their poster assignment.
The best method for designing a poster is to create a single PowerPoint slide and change the slide page size to desired poster size. It is highly recommended that students download the School of Computing’s Poster Template and use it as the starting point for their design. The template is provided as one suggestion for the design of a poster, and students are encouraged to make changes to the colors, layout, and format of the template to better present their project and express their creativity.
• Poster Size: Typically poster sizes range from 20" x 30" to 36" x 48". The recommended size for Senior Seminar posters is 30" x 40" or larger. Students should select the size of their poster based on the poster board available, plotter capabilities, and amount of content be presented. Posters describing smaller course projects often do not have enough content to fill a 36" x 48" poster and thus a smaller size should be used for these projects.
• Plotter Specifications: The School of Computing will print students’ posters on an HP DesignJet 800PS 42" plotter. Currently, the school stocks 36-inch wide paper rolls. Therefore, students must ensure that at least one dimension of their poster is less than 36 inches. The second dimension (either height or width) can be larger than 36 inches.
• Poster Board: Poster board is available for purchase at the Campus Shop and local Wal-Mart stores for a few dollars a board. These stores’ inventory of poster boards can vary from year to year so it is highly recommended that students purchase their poster board before designing their poster. This will ensure that students have a poster board that matches the size of their poster.
• Basic Required Elements: The title of the poster and authors’ names must be prominently displayed at the top of the poster. In addition, the School of Computing logo should be included on the poster (usually next to the title or at the very bottom of the poster). The official School of Computing logo should be used and various official colors and orientations are available from https://www.southern.edu/marketing/visualidentity/Pages/logosinstructionaldepartmentsand.aspx.
• Poster Content: In general, poster content should flow from top to bottom and from left to right. Content is typically split into small sections and the sections are denoted by boxes, color shading or just adequate white space. The number of subsections for a given poster varies widely and is dependent on the amount and type of information being presented. The poster template available above uses four subsections, but this is completely arbitrary and any reasonable division of content is acceptable.
• Problem Statement: The thesis statement or problem statement for students’ project should be clearly stated/defined. The problem statement is typically shown in the top left of the poster along with the motivation for the project (i.e., why is this project/research important) and/or an introduction to the subject. It is very important that a poster session attendee can walk up to the poster and quickly determine the subject of the poster and its usefulness to himself. This is most effectively accomplished through a descriptive title and a clearly stated, compelling problem statement.
• Poster Text: It is important to strike the right balance between text and tables/figures/graphics on a poster. Ideally, there should be enough text to allow a reader to understand the basic premise, results and conclusions of the poster’s author without requiring the attendee to read a complete paper. Paragraphs and long sentences should be avoided! Instead textual information should generally be presented using bulleted lists of short phrases and sentences. Whenever possible tables, figures and graphics should be displayed on the poster to present and illustrate the poster’s content. In this case, bulleted text can then be used to explain and expound upon the data given in figures and tables.
• Font Sizes: The font sizes used in the poster template available above should be used as a guide. Students should ensure that all text is legible from several 2-4 feet away (older faculty and visitors need to be able to read it too!). As a general rule of thumb, font sizes smaller than 36 – 40 points should be avoided including text in tables and figures. Exceptions to this rule can include footnote information such as citations and occasionally large tables. Recommended font sizes for the various types of text on a poster are given in the table below.
The following posters are examples of student and faculty posters from previous semesters. These examples are not necessary perfect and may not completely conform to the guidelines given above. As such, they should not be used as exact templates but as examples of the variety and creativity possible when presenting information in a poster format. If there are discrepancies between the examples and the above guidelines, the suggestions made in the above guidelines should take precedence.
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