Effective Poster Presentations
The American Historical Association invites proposals for posters for the 2016 annual meeting in Atlanta. The poster session will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, January 9, 2016, in a highly visible space in the meeting hotel.
With creative thinking, virtually any topic can be presented in this format. The key is to distill your argument into brief text and a clear design that will facilitate conversation.
As a general suggestion, we encourage you to think of an appealing display that will raise attendees' curiosity and encourage them to ask more about your work. Ultimately, the form of your poster will depend on the information you want to convey and your goals in presenting the information, but your display should always have two fundamental characteristics: clarity of display and clarity of argument. As a rule, use only one style, one conventional font, and a light background. Materials should be readable at a distance of 5 to 10 feet. We urge you to use at least 48 point font for titles and 36 point for body text and tables. Use images to support your argument and draw the audience in. Text should be under 800 words. Remember that your audience should be able to absorb your main arguments in a few minutes. Be prepared to give a brief oral introduction to the project and answer questions.
Many web sites give practical advice on poster design. We think you will find these sites particularly useful:
- Colorado State University
- American Anthropological Association (AAA). Although AAA-specific, there are some very good general suggestions.
- Colin Purrington's blog on designing effective conference posters.
- Fred Gibbs's blog post "Consider the Poster," which he wrote after presenting a poster at the 2015 annual meeting; this post touches on the value of wrestling with design challenges.
We also hosted a Google Hangout with poster afficionado Colin Purrington, 2014 poster contest winner Kelly Spring, director of scholarly communications and digital initiatives Seth Denbo, and editorial assistant Jacob Ingram. These scholars discussed techniques for crafting an especially engaging poster.