At first, I was puzzled by this. Of the 23 people I had the chance to ask how they put their poster together, fourteen worked in PowerPoint (61%), two in Illustrator, one in Pages, and one in InDesign. PowerPoint was still ruling the roost, as it did when I surveyed readers about a year ago.
I think what has happened in the year since I took the poll was that many more people are using PowerPoint 2010. One of the signs that many more people are using the latest version of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office is that I saw a lot of talks and posters using Calibri, which I hadn’t noticed before.
The new version of PowerPoint has one critical feature that helps a lot: smart guides.
PowerPoint got much better at lining things up in the 2010 version compared to the 2007 edition. (This is in stark contrast to Publisher, whose snap function got noticeably worse in the 2010 version.)
Previously, the lack of alignment was almost a dead giveaway that a poster was composed in PowerPoint. But it’s getting harder to tell. This makes me hopeful that the number of appalling conference posters will be lower at all conferences, not just the ESA meeting.