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How To Make A Poster
What is a poster?
A scientific poster is a popular method of presenting research findings succinctly. It allows you to condense the aims, methods, results and conclusions of your research into a portable form of presentation. It also allows interested peers to understand your research in your absence, simply by reading through your poster. On a poster, which is usually designed on a computer using a programme like Microsoft Powerpoint, you summarize your research project using a mix of text and diagrams/images. You will then need to get your poster printed and take it to the conference where it is to be presented.
How do I make a poster?
In Powerpoint, you can make the poster on a single slide. You can set the slide according to the specification by clicking on the ‘Design’ tab and clicking on Page setup. At their simplest, posters should contain a title, a list of author names and all the sections you might expect to see in an abstract or a standard scientific paper: background, aims, method, results and conclusions.The poster will need to catch the reader’s eye, be laid out in an intuitive way, contain enough detail to leave the reader with a sense of having understood the subject yet not excessive text so as to bore them and have diagrams to allow the reader to visualize concepts.
In order to allow people to skim through your poster and get an idea of your research, text should be kept to a minimum – summarizing what you want to say into a few words can be very difficult, especially if you think excluding certain crucial pieces of information may leave readers confused about the subject. However, your figures should help clarify the subject – what the text doesn’t specify, the figure should, and vice-versa.
Background/Introduction: This can consist of a few sentences about the subject of your research. Consider including a figure or two explaining your background in pictorial form.
Aims/Objectives: This is probably the most important part of the poster as it will tell the reader what you were hoping to achieve from your research. Make this as clear as possible.
Method: This section may often take up a lot of precious space, especially if you have to describe novel tools or tests. At the very least, the process of your project (i.e. the sequence of events, number of trials etc.) can be summarized in a flow diagram – this may take some effort to design but it will save you space and may actually be easier on the eyes.
Results: This is the ‘juicy’ bit of the poster. This is where you would include any graphs or results tables. All graphs, including the axes, need to be adequately labelled – the vertical axis is best labelled with a horizontal-reading label rather than a vertical-reading one which would require one to tilt one’s head to understand it. It may also be a good idea to redo your graphs in Microsoft Excel or any other program that lets you keep the background of graphs clear and gives you the option of removing grid lines which can be a hindrance when trying to interpret a graph. p-values that are relevant to the graphs can be included directly on graphs (as a text box) rather than within the caption or elsewhere, in order to make it easier for the reader to spot them.
Conclusion: This should typically be one or two sentences. When presenting your poster, you should spend some time explaining the implications of your findings to the listeners as your ideas may help change practice or generate further research. You might even consider including a section on the limitations of your study, but again this will take up space and are probably best included in the verbal discussion with the listener that you will have whilst standing next to your poster.
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