18 May 2023

Konferenzplakat auf Deutsch, or: Conference poster in German

One of my goals for the blog recently has been to showcase posters that are not in English. Today, I am thankful to Lennert Böhm for sharing this work. Click to enlarge!

Poster in German titled "Availability of palliative medicine resources in German emergency departments – an online survey"

Roughly, the poster title translates to “Availability of palliative medicine resources in German emergency departments – an online survey.” Lennert wrote:

I tried to use as little text as possible as I feel survey results lend themselves well to infographics.

Survey results often do lend themselves to a few large numbers, which you see down in the bottom section of the poster. If you have simple binaries, a percentage works better than a pie chart.

I like the high contrast colour palette using that favourite colour scheme of movie posters, orange and blue. 

Personally, I would have liked some of the elements more aligned to a grid.

Now, one of the reasons I am asking for posters not in English is to have a chance to think about different design problems that arise from working with different sorts of text. German is similar to English in terms of the alphabet and text layout, but there is a difference

Famously, German words can be long. You’ve probably heard people joke, “Isn’t there a German word describing this exact but oddly specific situation?” (My favourite German word is “Backpfeifengesicht”: roughly, “A face in need of a punch.”)

These German compound words can create a problem with typesetting. It’s harder to get even line lengths with all those lengthy words, which I suspect means there is more incentive for good hyphenation.

I bet most poster makers don’t even think about hyphenation. For one, PowerPoint, the default graphics app for academics, doesn’t hyphenate text. It’s just not there. This is just one reason I love Microsoft Publisher: because it has basic hyphenation tools. This article describes some of the problems around hyphenation, and has some comments about hyphenating in InDesign.

The second reason that I think most academics don’t think about hyphenation is that many will just set text as “ragged right.” This is fine, but lots of long words might mean that even ragged right text might be improved by hyphenation.

If you do decide to hyphenate, do check the appearance of your columns yourself. No auto-hyphenate feature written by software can cover every situation, and you may need to add or remove a hyphen or two.

Related posts

Love my justify

External links

German compound words explained with examples

German placeholder text generator

Book design basics: Use hyphens for justified type 

Hyphenation for print books

Schlimmbesserung: A German word that academics need to add to their vocabulary

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