MountMakers Forum - Poster Guidelines

Poster Format

Dimensions: The maximum dimensions for the posters are 3 ft by 4 ft (36” x 48”). You may choose to have a square, vertical or horizontal format within that space.

Poster materials: The poster may consist of sheets of 11” x 8 ½” or A4 paper assembled to form a larger composition. Recent advances in computer printing have made larger format printing more affordable, and presenters are welcome to use large format print-outs. One advantage to creating your poster in an electronic media is that it can then be shared with attendees after the event.

The posters will be displayed on a combination of pinnable walls and or easels on or near a table. You may bring your own business cards, handouts or samples.

The poster session organizers will provide tacks, pins, tape and emergency supplies, but prepare to bring any materials you think you will need.


  • Dec. 20, 2011 – Outline poster proposal
  • April 1, 2012  -  If you need FM to mount your poster onto a backing board we will need the paper poster in hand by April 1.  The paper poster can be shipped in a tube to:

              Pam Gaible – (Mount Forum)
              Exhibit Dept.
              Field Museum
              1400 South Lake Shore Dr.,
              Chicago , IL 60605

  • April 27, 2012 - If you are going to bring your poster ready to go you can arrive at 9 am for set up the day of your presentation.

Presenters are responsible for:

  • The actual poster and visual materials which comprise the presentation (unless discussed ahead)
  • The printing of any handouts
  • A sign-up sheet and/or business cards to record interest or follow-up for the presentation
  • Any special materials required
  • If applicable, a laptop with extension cord
  • Requests and/or inquires for additional items such as tables, outlets or additional extension cords, etc should be directed to

Conference Host is responsible for:

  • If needed backing board materials up to 3’x4’ (please notify if needed.)
  • Basic materials for securing poster to wall or easel
  • A table for additional materials (please notify if needed)
  • Power supply for laptops (please notify if needed)
  • Chairs

Presenting the Poster     (please note: the schedule is subject to change!)

April 27, 2012 –
9 AM – poster presenter arrival and set up of your poster in hall
10 AM  – poster session – access is thru the west entrance of the museum.
Poster presenters will be expected to stand by their posters for the “Author in Attendance” periods, from 10 - 11am and again from 12 noon to 1p.m. Friday. You may wish to distribute business cards or handouts during this time. This will facilitate discussion between presenters and attendees. This schedule should allow you to attend the behind the scenes tour of Field Museum scheduled between 11 and 2 pm roughly.

The Lecture Hall will be open for viewing durring “unattended posters” from 11-12noon and 1-2 p.m. on Friday April 27th. This will give presenters some down time to grab a bite of lunch. Poster presenters should not leave anything of value unattended in hall. If you wish to stay in the hall for the entire time that is ok to.

2 – 3 PM - Break down and clean up poster area. You will have one hour to remove your poster and materials.  Hall needs to be cleared out by 3PM.

Poster Content

Recommended elements:
The text should include the following elements:

  • A title panel (or a banner headline), including the project title, the names of all authors, and their institutional affiliations (if applicable).
  • A small photo of the presenter/author, to permit attendees to identify the author in a crowded conference hall.
  • An introduction, including a short summary, which describes the project.
  • Conclusions and recommendations as appropriate.  

Poster Design

Before you begin your design, decide what the message of your poster is:

  • Is it to announce a new discovery?
  • Is it to describe a series of events?
  • Is it to persuade the audience of the benefits of a procedure or material?
  • Is it to compare different techniques or materials?

The poster should not simply be a report pinned to the wall.

1. Make effective use of space, by presenting the information that best illustrates the message you wish to send.

2. Use photographs. Avoid using superfluous photos, which do not reinforce the message of your presentation.

3. Labels for illustrations should be large enough to be legible from a 4 ft. (122cm) distance. Use arrows to avoid crowding too much text onto your illustrations.

4. Do not forget to use color. Color should provide emphasis. Use contrast, complimentary colors, and primary colors to convey information in charts and diagrams. Do a trial printing if possible to make sure that the colors look as good on paper as they do on your computer. If you aren’t using a color printer, use colored pencils or felt-tipped pens to enhance your poster.

5. Keep fonts simple. Use no more than two fonts.

  • The most readable fonts are sans serifs (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, etc). Or you may choose a traditional serif font like Times or Garamond, but you may find that you must use a larger size in order to make your text legible.
  • The font should be legible from a 5ft or 1.5m distDocument1ance.
  • The title should be 72-84pt. (1-1-1/2” tall), and the body text should be at least 18pt.
  • Using all capital letters does not enhance legibility. Bold type, underlining, bullets or italics will emphasize text, where needed.

6. If it is practical, you may wish to attach samples to your poster. As we cannot guarantee the security of your display, please do not leave anything valuable or irreplaceable with your poster when it is unattended.

7. Remember that your audience may be reading your poster in a crowded room. Resist the temptation to include too much text. Try to have no more than twenty lines per section. (this is not a book)

8. Think of your poster as a whole, not just a group of papers.

  • Expect that your audience will read the poster from top to bottom and from left to right.
  • Organize your content so that each section flows visually to the next, using color, line, shape, pattern and other applicable design elements.
  • Numbering your headings, tables, and illustrations, helps the audience to follow your sequence.
  • Keep the layout simple, direct and uncluttered.  

9. Blank or negative space is a design element. Use the shape, location, and orientation of blank space to enhance the layout of your poster.

10. Proofread your text. The “spell check” function of your computer does not automatically know that you used silver solder instead of “sliver” solder. Read your text aloud to detect such mistakes. Invite a colleague who knows little about your presentation to read and edit your text. The presenters are likely to project their own experiences onto their attempts to proofread reports of their own projects, missing possible errors or omissions.

For more Information
Additional information about how to do a poster can be found in these books and web sites:

Robert R.H. Anholt, Dazzle ’em With Style: The Art of Oral Scientific Presentation, W.H. Freeman, New York, 1994.

Diane L. Matthews, The Scientific Poster: Guidelines for Effective Visual Communication, Technical Communication, 37 (3) 1990, 225–232.

Edward R. Tufte,The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut, 1983.

Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information, Graphics Press, Cheshire, Connecticut, 1990.

(This document was adapted from the AIC and NMAI poster session guidelines.)

Contact Pam Gaible for general poster session questions