18 April 2013

Critique and makeover: atlases

Today’s poster comes from Justin Ducote, who was kind enough to give me permission to show this poster. Click to enlarge:

Justin made with a PowerPoint template, and sent me the original file. This made it easy to do a fast makeover. I opened up the file, shuddered a bit at the vast amount of text, and went at it with two major goals in mind.

  1. Fewer words.
  2. Bigger words.

It was easy to hit those goals. First, I removed the abstract (goal #1). Remember what abstracts were created to do: to summarize an article when you couldn’t read the rest of the article. Abstracts make no sense when the “rest of the article” is on the same piece of paper.

The abstract was chewing up a fifth of the poster. Removing that abstract gave lots of room to maneuver on the left side of the poster. I made the head shots as big as I could, as they’re the most recognizable and attractive graphic on the poster.

Originally, the headings measured 25 points in size and the main text was 23 points: almost indistinguishable in size. I made the headings 44% bigger (goal #2), increasing them from from 25 point to 36 points. Similarly, the main text got 21% bigger, moving from 23 to 28 points.

Having said goal #2 was to make words bigger, it might seem contradictory at first that I made some of the print smaller. I shrunk references and figure legends by 22%, down to 18 points from 23.  This allowed the main text to fit, and it created a visual hierarchy. Instead of two text sizes that were almost the same size, there are three text sizes that are all distinctly different, clearly signalling their relative importance.

The right side of the poster required only a little more finessing. I reduced the contact information, and cut out one phrase in the Discussion to make the text fit.

I rearranged the title and the logos. The logo bookends were forcing the title to be off-centered. Given the logos were so different in proportion, the simplest solution was to embrace the asymmetry and put the title on the left. I could make the title bigger by removing the logos entirely, but I wanted to work with the original style as much as I can.

The University of California logo is obviously informing the colour palette of the poster, so I thought, “Why not just go all the way with it?” Originally, the scatterplots on the right had the only red on the poster. The revision uses blue and gold, like the rest of the poster.

Additional: Radical_Rave on Twitter offers some more suggestions.

Related posts

The epic logo post
Abstract abolition!

1 comment:

Justin said...

This is Justin - your comments were much appreciated ! I will keep these goals in mind for the future.

thanks again