Tag Archives: poster design

Get plagiarized!

Get PlagiarizedIt’s come to my attention that a few science and ethics faculty are featuring my situation when they discuss plagiarism.  So I thought it might be useful if I made a little graphic for them, to use in their Powerpoint shows and such.  The design emulates and pokes fun at the book, Get Funded!, which is authored by Dorin Schumacher, the owner of The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research . . . which still refuses to acknowledge that it is plagiarizing my poster design instructions (and threatining to sue me … since I called them on it).

But no, I don’t have plans to write a book on plagiarism.  If you want to know my opinions on the topic, please see my Preventing Plagiarism page.


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Conference poster examples

In case you found this site while searching for advice on poster presentations, here are two that I designed for Daisy Bicking, who presented them at The Laminitis Conference in Florida. Both were crafted to be light on text and to show off her great (and sometimes gruesome!) photographs.

Easy application of maggot debridement therapy to treat chronic absceses in laminitic horses

Alternative approach in rehabilitating the chronically laminitic foot utilizing composite materials

And if you’ve found this site because you have a lame horse, you can contact Daisy for details at daisyhavenfarm@gmail.com. She’s based in West Chester, Pennsylvania (near me), but makes road trips with her crew. She also gives seminars on how to do the above, and much more. You can also follow her farm on facebook. Tell her I sent you!

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Example of bad scientific poster

When I give lectures on poster design, I sometimes show examples of horrific posters I’ve found on the internet — they are pretty much all bad, in fact. Someday, though, the author of a poster I’m critiquing is going to be in the audience, probably in the front row, and probably carrying a concealed weapon. So I thought it was time to construct my own terrible poster example. The result is, “Pigs in space: effect of zero gravity and ad libitum feeding on weight gain in Cavia porcellus.” I’m especially ashamed of the bad logos, which I designed so as not to anger actual entities like NSF, SpaceX, and the Corn Refiners Association. A partial list of why the poster is awful is below the image.

Example of bad scientific poster (copyright colin purrington)

Why this is a terrible poster:

  1. Too much text.
  2. Background image is distracting, wastes ink.
  3. Text box backgrounds are dark, which makes text hard to read (and wastes ink).
  4. Text box backgrounds are all different colors, for no reason (thus annoying).
  5. Text boxes are different widths (and annoying).
  6. Text boxes not separated from each other by pleasing “white” space.
  7. Text box edges not aligned, which is annoying.
  8. Text justified, which causes bad inter-word spacing. Also makes reading harder (brain uses jaggedness of left-justified text).
  9. Logos are pretentious (true of any logo).
  10. Logos crowd the title.
  11. Title perspective is annoying (unless you like Star Wars).
  12. Title is in all caps, which is harder to read and obscures Latin name).
  13. Title is italicized, which obscures Latin name.
  14. Author font and color is annoying (comic sans should be reserved for comic books).
  15. Author font color is too loud relative to other text.
  16. Results are presented in sentences instead of visually with charts.
  17. Section headers have more than one type of formatting (big font, bolded, italicized, underlined, and colored — ack!).  Choose one. [Note: I forgot to number the sections…that would have been even worse.]
  18. Terrible graphic of Guinea pig on scale. Need one of the actual set up (pigs eating while weightless, for example). [UPDATE: Or should have bribed Jeff at joegp.com, who apparently has a comic series about Guinea pigs in space suits. Awesome]
  19. Inclusion of an Abstract gobbles up space needlessly. Abstract section should be banned from posters.
  20. Plus the science is terrible! (Bad science is correlated with bad graphic design, by the way.)

I encourage teachers to print the poster and show to students a month before their posters are due. Students don’t read instructions anymore unless you threaten them with a test or coat the material with something snarky, and the above might be able to break through their filters. The printable PDF is on my “Designing conference posters” page if you want to try.

And yes, that fictitious street number is a gravity joke. Sorry.

Believe it or not, the poster got published in the journal Nature.

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Poster design goes viral

I’ve been invited to give a lecture on poster design at the NFID‘s 15th Annual Conference on Vaccine Research this Spring, in Maryland, and have tentatively titled my talk,  “Confronting the epidemic of bad posters at scientific conferences.”  To prepare myself, I wanted to drum up some opinons on poster sessions at virology-related meetings (I haven’t attended any).  Anyone?  Or anyone willing to give me photographs of past sessions from conferences #1-14?

Poster judging at scientific conference

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Cookies for poster design tips!

Just wanted to give a huge public thanks to Lino Martín Castro (University of Chihuahua), who sent me a selection of cookies from México as a thank you for my “Designing conference posters” page. All I usually get are e-mails (which I also love), so this was a real treat.

cookies from mexico

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