09 July 2009

Critique: Oligonucleotides

This poster, by Peter Guterstam and Ülo Langel, was featured on ePosters.net as an award winning poster at a conference in September 2008. Typically, such awards are given for the science as well as the graphics, but here, let’s examine it for just the visual impact.

Guterstam and Langel poster
From the point of view of pure visual impact, this is very disappointing.

The first author’s name is underlined in a couple of places. Underlining is not a good way of emphasizing, because the horizontal line obscures the shape of the descending letters. Bold or italicizing is usually better. Perhaps the conference organizers specified that the presenting author must underline the name?

The layout is unattractive, with a strange split between a two column layout at the top and a three column layout underneath. This might work if there were better alignment, but the margins of the top columns are wider than those of the bottom.

The flow is so poor that the authors had to draw a dividing line – a zigging, zagging, dividing line – to show readers where to go next and prevent someone from wandering into the figures accidentally.

Similarly, having the conclusion in the middle of the poster is rather strange. Normally, people will be looking for the end of the poster in the lower right hand corner. That’s where we end up every time we read a page of a book or magazine or newspaper.

The text is large and mostly quite legible. If the text is high contrast enough to be printed against a blue background, however, why are the figures printed in black ink against a white background? For that matter, why is the table set in serif font when the rest of the poster is set in sans serif?

Guterstam and Langel poster critique.jpg
Finally, the figure captions are in odd places, and generally do not leave enough space between the figure and the text. This is particularly true in the lower left hand corner. The text and picture almost touching in the horizontal is more puzzling, given that there is a fairly large gap above the picture.

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