Quick Links: Fonts | Font Sizes | Font Combos | Color | Contrast | Screen vs. Print | Backgrounds
When it comes to fonts and font styles, the possible combinations are endless. The key is not to go overboard and be sure to follow some basic font guidelines.
Generally, putting information in "bullet" form is better than using sentences.
Titles and headings should appear larger than other text, but not too large.
Many websites will have suggestions for the font size that should be used for posters, but keep in mind that each of these suggestions are based on a specific poster size. So, generally speaking a good starting point would be to use 24-36pt font, but most importantly… make sure the text fits! Once you have trimmed down the text to only what you need, put all of that text on to your poster and adjust the font size until it all fits well enough in the space you have. Keep in mind, each and every poster is different, so sometimes text will be a bit smaller, and sometimes it will be a bit larger.
Keeping in mind that suggestions are based on a specific poster size, here are a few general size guidelines for your scientific poster.
For the major sections of the poster:
Body text: 24pt
As for legibility, the following sizes are a good starting point:
To be legible 6 feet use 30 pt.
To be legible 10 feet use 48 pt.
To be legible 12 feet use 60 pt.
To be legible 14 feet use 72 pt.
Two common fonts that are easy on the eyes are Arial and Verdana.
Below are 10 font combinations that we have seen used frequently by our customers and we feel are very aesthetically pleasing for scientific posters.
Don’t use a drop shadow unless it is absolutely necessary.
It is important to try to avoid using more than 2 font types because too many fonts distract the viewer. This is especially true when they appear on the same sentence.
Color/Contrast/Screen vs. Print
Consider people who have problems differentiating colors. One of the most common is an inability to tell green from red.
When choosing colors for your poster, using 2-3 colors will give the best look. Too many colors make it look chaotic and unprofessional, but having no color makes it boring and plain.
If you are creating images on the computer, note that colors may appear different on your screen due to differences in monitors and the printing process. Blue text on a black background and vice versa is particularly hard to read. Even though there may seem to be enough contrast on screen, it does not print well. Try using a light grey instead of black, or lighter blue in the place of navy.
The background and text should have a high contrast. To ensure this, use a light color for the background with a dark colored text or a darker background with light text. Whatever colors you use, the background should not distract from the content itself. Where possible, let the most important item have the most important color and the greatest contrast with its background. If you are not a designer and this is your first research poster, we suggest sticking to light colored backgrounds. This offers more combinations and flexibility when designing your poster. Avoid very bright color combinations, if it makes you squint, don’t use it! You could use one of our research poster templates or colors from our templates if you are unsure of safe color choices.
Here is a bad example of contrast in a scientific poster:
Now, a good example of contrast in a scientific poster:
Screen vs. Print
Something that looks easy to read on your screen may not look so good once it is printed, if you have to second guess yourself, choose a different color! The greater the contrast between the font color and the background color, the easier it will be to see and read.
Blues especially don't represent true to color on screen and tend to print purple. On screen your file may appear to have a blue background. In order to avoid this issue, change the RGB value of the blue color in question to contain less red (R) and more blue (B).
Some good blue values:
Navy: (0, 30, 102)
Cobalt Blue: (0, 51, 153)
True Blue: (0, 0, 255)
Keep in mind that your screen is a nice, bright, backlit monitor and paper has no bright, built in light source. While all of our printers a very accurately calibrated, some of the colors and images may not be as vivid as you may expect once they are printed.
Here is a bad example:
Here is a good example:
Try to stay away from anything that is too busy. Often times a solid tone, or a very simple gradient is the best option. Also, choose a color that will complement the color you have chosen for your font.
Below are two examples that demonstrate the importance of choosing the best background for your poster presentation.
The background below can make the text hard to read and the poster hard to follow:
On the other hand, this is a good example for a scientific poster background choice:
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