This is a poster I made for the 114th annual meeting of the Texas Academy of Science, which was held last week in Austin, Texas. Though I say it myself, I think it’s one of my best. (As usual, you may click to enlarge.)
I tried yet again to push myself and apply some more of the ideas I’ve talked about here in the blog (oddly, I often write about things before I have a chance to put them into practice).
A compact title; not quite as short as a comic book title, but closer than many.
A big, recognizable picture in the top left as an entry point. This poster also benefited a lot because the whole point of the study was to generate maps. The maps almost act as another entry point, and certainly don’t need a lot of explanation.
The tones in the picture, particularly the clay pots the crayfish is on, helped determine the colour palette for the rest of the poster. It’s carried through the text and the maps. I’m partial to brick red, anyway.
I limited myself to two typefaces; Bernhard Mod for the title and drop caps (which I’d been using as the logo for the Marmorkrebs.org website for some time now), and Gill Sans for the body text. Gill Sans has rapidly become one of my favourite typefaces for posters: it always reads clearly, even some distance away.
One of the more daring ideas I had was to completely get rid of the usual section headings (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion). I did this almost by accident when I started playing around with the “Drop cap” tool in Publisher, and decided that I liked the result. Upon reflection, I reasoned that the drop caps could signal the different sections as well as using actual headings.
I also took a risk in using uneven columns. I tried to use my preferred format, three equally wide columns, and failed. I created a more complex grid of six columns, and ended up with sections of varying width, but I think it worked well. The strong underlying grid gave structure and regularity to something that could have looked chaotic and unplanned.
I also continued experimenting with putting a light texture in the background. It is still very tricky to find one that does not interfere with the legibility of the text, but this one seemed light enough to be fine.
The only two things that are problems are the thumbnail choropleth maps to the upper right of the large map of Texas. Although the high end of the scale works, the yellow on the low end, which takes up much of the map, is too far from the rest of the colours on the poster. And the legends are too small to read. I was hoping they’d be okay on the full size version (48 inches wide by 42 inches high), but they should be bigger.
This poster is about 85% of the way to what I think an excellent conference poster might look like. And all it took was two years of non-stop blogging to warm up to it. I’m very happy with how this one turned out.
Feria TP, Faulkes Z. Forecasting the distribution of Marmorkrebs, a parthenogenetic crayfish with high invasive potential, in Madagascar, Europe, and North America. Aquatic Invasions 6(1): In press. http://www.aquaticinvasions.net/2011/AI_2011_6_1_Feria_Faulkes_correctedproof.pdf (Preprint)
Bill Murray on storytelling
5 days ago