Define Your Audience – Know who your target audience is, since you only have a few seconds for someone to decide whether to stay and explore your content or leave. If they stay, you have perhaps 30 seconds to convey an overall understanding of your subject matter. Your target audience will be the greatest determinant of what your message should be and how it should be presented, so take some time to think about who you are trying to reach.

Distill Your Message – If there was only one thing that you could convey with your poster, what would it be? Select a statement, photograph, diagram or other focal point that is sure to attract your target audience’s attention. This is your initial point of interest, which should be scaled so that it occupies at least 30% of the area of the finished poster. The remainder of the poster should be tightly edited material to provide additional pertinent information. Present the information in a clear and concise manner that flows logically. Use captions and legends to guide the reader where necessary.

Edit, Edit, Edit!

  • Eliminate all but the vital elements.
  • Reduce your information to concise, legible statements.
  • Reinterpret text as charts, graphs, or illustrations whenever possible.
  • Use bullet points for easy reading.

Consider Your Presentation Requirements – Determine the size of the poster that you plan to print, as well as its orientation – portrait or landscape. Organize your information in a coherent manner, and select font styles and size and graphics formats and sizes to maximize readability. Proximity indicates that items are related or should be viewed together. Make sure that contrasts are high between bars of graphs, lines on charts, and backgrounds and text. Light backgrounds with dark text and graphical elements are easiest to read. Color should highlight, separate, define, and associate information; if color begins to compete with your information for attention, then it is too strong. Effective posters are spacious and easy to follow; adequate clear space will direct attention to key elements. The eye looks for edges, so be sure to align photographs, headings, and text materials. When your design is complete, take a step back and ensure that the overall effect is visually pleasing.

Create Legible Text

  • Information should flow from left to right and from top to bottom.
  • Your main title should be large (72-144 points), bold, and readable at a distance of 10 feet.
  • Text and titles written entirely in capital letters are harder to read.
  • Keep your capitalization consistent.
  • Text should be 24-32 points. Sans serif fonts are recommended.
  • For ease of reading, nothing beats black text on a light background.
  • Avoid extremely long titles, excessive use of different fonts (limit yourself to 2-3 fonts for the entire
    poster), ornate fonts which may be difficult to read, and single words highlighted within the text.