14 March 2013

Critique and makeover: Peptides

Today’s poster comes from Triet Nguyen, who will be a grad student starting this fall. Click to enlarge...


When I first looked at this, I noticed that the poster switches from an up-down reading order (left column) to a left-right reading order (right two thirds). It’s particularly puzzling given that the wide rows are divided into twos, which could be rearranged into columns with little difficulty. Here’s a quick and dirty redo:


This is not ideal, because in the original poster, the top row is taller than the bottom one. Consequently, my version of the left column has more white space than the new middle column. The columns are uneven, too. Those could be fixed with little adjustments to proportions. This would take time, because this is a poster with a lot of individual pieces.

Notwithstanding all of that, one tall and two wides is actually fine! My preference for columns is mainly a stylistic choice, and the reading order here is not confusing. The use of panels clarifies the reading order, and I like that the panels are done with a little subtlety. The panels are shaped by white space against a coloured background, and not by hard black lines around each panel.

Within each panel, there are a lot of individual parts, as noted above. A stronger use of alignment would certainly help bring a greater sense of order to the poster. In the example below, I’ve put down a few lines along the edge of one object. In general, that line crosses through several objects on the page


I’m not a fan of university logos in general, particularly not in the prime real estate of the upper left corner. I suggest flipping it with the title: title left, logo right. Perhaps like this:


Given that the title is not centered on the page in either version, however, there’s no reason to center the author list and institution under the title. Left aligning might be stronger, especially in my redesign above.

Some of the typography is a little awkward, particularly the bullet lists. The bullets look too close to the text. Hanging indents would emphasize the bullets more. The numbered list in the left column suffers because the text varies in how far it is from the numbers.

Similarly, bold or italics are usually better solutions for emphasis than underlining.

The figures have a lot of fine detail, and I’m not sure how visible that will be from a distance. For instance, the fine gridlines in the figure on the bottom left are probably just going to make the figure look muddy when seen at a distance rather than as distinct lines. I’m not sure what can be done, apart from constantly asking, “Can I take this out? Can I make this bigger?”

Related posts

The epic logo post
Poster real estate
Learning from Cosmo

External links

Forgotten wisdom (Part One)

1 comment:

Jade Nguyen said...

Dr. Zen, thanks for your awesome critique! They are right on!
Making posters is a skill that graduate students should master. I'll keep your advice in mind for my next ones :)