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Scientific Posters: What are They Used For and How to Create the Best Ones?

Scientific congresses are events where the results of works, studies and research projects are presented. In recent years some scientific congresses have eliminated the classic presentations in the form of oral communications and all contributions are made in the form of posters. A poster is a document accompanied by graphics, images, and drawings that make the information aesthetically attractive and easily legible. It is a type of communication that allows the concise and clear transmission of the central ideas of a paper and greater retention of information by the reader than simple oral transmission. In addition, each reader can devote as much time as he or she requires, according to his or her abilities and interests. 

The traditional way to present scientific information at congresses has been replaced by a new system: the electronic posters. E-posters are the digital version of the traditional billboards often used in science fairs. Now, the results of the different research projects made by the attendants are displayed on big screens at the congress venue. Thanks to this, the works are no longer made of just pictures and paper: authors can now use audio, video or hyperlinks to bibliography and further interesting information that can be consulted on-site.

These e-posters can be created in many different ways, but the most usual is to upload a static PowerPoint or PDF sheet to the congress database so they can display it on the screen. Another option is to use special software such as, which has several advantages: support throughout the creation process, the chance to use previously-designed templates and the ability to easily include multimedia elements.

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Either virtual or conventional, scientific posters matter because they contribute to the exchange of knowledge among those attending academic events. Thanks to them, they have the opportunity to interact directly with the authors and obtain more information if they are interested. Scientific banners offer the opportunity to present research projects or papers that cannot be presented orally: sometimes, the author resides in a country other than the one where the congress is taking place in, or they don’t speak the language. 

Thus, posters help to achieve the ultimate goal of all communication in a scientific congress: the transmission of a message by the author and its capture by the audience. Plus, they are a form of communication with great potential because they enable the concise, clear and permanent transmission of their content, without the time restrictions imposed by oral conferences. Medical posters offer the possibility of establishing direct communication with the author(s) and promotes the one-to-one exchange of opinions with a tranquillity that is difficult to achieve in the context of a large-scale conference.

Unlike a scientific article, a poster is more graphical. A good poster should guide the viewer using a visual logic, showing a hierarchical structure that emphasizes the main points of the work, but without ceasing to be visually attractive. When presenting a research proposal, the scientific poster may contain the following items: background and justification, formulation of the problem, objectives, methodology, and sequence of activities. Optionally, it can contain the most relevant references. Also, it has followed a logical sequence, from left to right and from top to bottom. The reader starts the reading in the upper left margin and ends it in the lower right margin; arranging the information taking this into account will help in its design.

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As the poster is a very suitable medium for the use of graphic resources, it is very important to find a balance between the text, images or video -in the case of e-posters– that accompany it. When creating a scientific e-poster, it is important to choose the best platforms to ensure that your work stands out on the congress you are attending to. You can use their templates to make sure that you don’t make mistakes such as using too bright colors, as this is an academic type of work and they make the reading more complicated.

As per written information, it shouldn’t have more than 700 written words, and it is a good idea to use simple fonts, for example, Arial, Tahoma or Calibri. Also, do not to use more than two different fonts throughout the poster. Special attention should be paid to writing and spelling because every mistake is magnified on the poster. All information included should be checked for consistency (i.e., that tables, figures, and statistical graphs correspond to the data and figures presented in the text). Finally, the author must be able to account for all the elements that appear on his poster.

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