Medical posters are a hybrid and interactive form of scientific communication, more detailed than an oral presentation -but less than a manuscript- that allows to discuss the most relevant aspects with the attendees. Along with the scientific article and the oral presentation, they are now one of the most important and most common communication formats among researchers in the medical field.
Nowadays, most congresses allow both electronic or conventional posters, so it is up to the author to decide which one to use. Conventional ones are the classic big billboards in which the information is presented in two or three vertical text-columns, most of the time accompanied by graphics or pictures. The virtual ones, on the other hand, are electronic presentations displayed on big screens, which allow not only text and pictures, but also other multimedia resources such as video or audio.
They are also interactive since authors can use hyperlinks to direct to further information. Thus, the electronic format is becoming more and more popular as time goes by -to the extent that conventional ones are also presented through screens as static sheets. And this happens because the electronic posters have a number of advantages over printed that are important to highlight.
The first of the perks is that e-posters are more sustainable and eco-friendly, because they don’t require the waste of paper to be made. Also, it makes the display and subsequent storage easier, since one single screen may host a large number of different posters which can be stored later in virtual galleries and databases that take up no space. These virtual galleries, created both by the congresses themselves and by the specialized e-poster making-tools such as PosterSessionOnline.com, allow those people who couldn’t go to the congress to see it online and contact the author to discuss the topic with a tranquillity that is difficult to achieve in the context of a large-scale conference in a congress.
However, both printed and virtual medical posters need to meet a set of criteria to be considered a relevant work of research… And here is where things get complicated, because scientific researchers need to be good at design to create a good poster, but they aren’t often taught how to do so. First of all, we must have a text to include in our poster -never more than 700 words- and be clear about which tables, figures, images or videos we are going to include. Special care must be taken in spelling and/or writing errors, because any failure will be maximized when the poster is displayed.
The content is essential, but not the only important part of the poster. We have to keep in mind that we are not making an essay or a paper, so we have to avoid the details and keep only the essential -what will arouse the interest of the reader and try to leave him wanting to know more about your research. Keep in mind the time the reader has to draw general conclusions from the contents of the poster and remember that it is more important to generate an impacting memory than to try to tell everything to the detail.
The organization of the content is crucial. It will be necessary to present different sections that will help us in the design of the poster. The reading sequence must be from left to right and from top to bottom, avoiding that the reader has to make visual leaps. The poster should begin with an attention grabbing title and a subtitle that completes the title and summarizes the subject matter of the whole piece. You should also write an introduction, define some objectives, detail the method used, draw some conclusions … All this, always supported graphically. At least 50% of the poster should be purely visual content: icons, graphics, highlights, and so on.
The aesthetic of the poster has to be pleasing to the eye, without stridencies and following an organized pattern of elements. As for the colors, avoid falling into an overly colorful composition. The font size must be big enough and easy to read from a distance. Try Arial, Helvetica or Verdana, but avoid fonts like Times New Roman, which works very well in text pages but it is not suitable for a poster as it is difficult to see and read from a distance. If you choose to create an e-Poster via an online platform, you can use their pre-designed templates and make sure that all these design considerations are already taken care of.