How to Make Posters and Billboards (in the Health Care Setting)
Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg
July 29, 2012
In my daily activities, I cannot help but be exposed to all sorts of public announcements and communication and the tools used such as digital slides, posters, billboards and videos.
In the past and up to the present, I have focused on advocating the art of creating digital slides for presentation, particularly medical ones. See https://sites.google.com/site/digitalmedicalpresentation
With this advocacy, I cannot help evaluate and even make open comments on the quality of digital slides that I see anywhere, be it in the hospital setting or outside, such as in the church (with the slide guides during Sunday masses on how to respond to the priest’s prayers and the lyrics of the songs to sing) and in business presentation by pharmaceuticals, sellers of equipment, real estate brokers; etc.
Lately, I am extending my advocacy to promoting clear and clean posters and billboards in the hospital setting. In the future, I may go into medical videos. There are two driving factors for this latest interest. One, as a medical educator, I want to contribute to the training of health professionals in making proper posters , not only for medical convention purposes (as publishing scientific and research paper results through posters is commonly being done nowadays), but also for public health education purposes. Two, as a hospital administrator, I like and expect to see posters and billboards (including signages) on hospital services, events and activities being created properly, not only for effective corporate communication but also for business development purposes.
Quality Parameters for Posters and Billboards
I firmly believe that the quality parameters of CLEAR and CLEAN that I propose for digital slides hold true for posters and billboards. See below. I have previously made a writing on this topic (https://rojosonfacebooknotes.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/clear-and-clean-billboards).
- CLEAR in that the contents can be clearly seen by the audience from a reasonable distance
- Clear font type
- Adequate font size
- Adequate font weight (bold)
- Clear font color (sharp contrast with background)
- Non-obscuring background (use simple background design)
- Clear theme / topic / message
- Those with pictures – well-focused with good resolution (not blurred)
- With proper size of intended focus of interest (proper zooming-in or close-up)
- Avoid incorrect spelling / incorrect syntax.
- Use simple background design.
- Not too many contents as these will impair the clarity of the texts and pictures because of sacrifice in size
- Avoid jampacked posters and billboards.
Below are samples of scientific paper posters, information posters, and billboards that I collected to facilitate expression of my thoughts, perceptions, opinions, and recommendations (TPORs) on the do’s and don’ts. I hope the creators of these posters and billboards will not mind and will not get offended as I used them for illustration and discussion purposes. I am open to disagreements.
Scientific Paper Posters
The quality criteria of CLEAR and CLEAN are applicable in scientific paper posters.
There are usually rules provided by the organizing committee on how the scientific paper posters should be made. These should be followed to the letter.
Shown below are the 2011 guidelines given by the Philippine College of Surgeons for its research paper poster contest.
The poster board surface area is 4 ft. high and 3 ft. wide. Prepare for the top of your poster space a heading containing the abstract, title, name(s) of authors(s) and institution. The lettering for the latter 3 data should not be less than 1” high.
All illustrations should be made beforehand. They should be simple and readable from a distance of about 4 ft. or more. Do not mount them on heavy boards because they may be difficult to keep in place on the poster boards. Handwritten materials should be bold and at least 3/8” high. Shaded black letters are preferred. Typed materials should be printed using fonts of at least 30, if possible. You might also find it useful to have on hand a table of suitable sketch paper (9” x 12”) as well as one or two felt marking pens.
The Poster should include the following items:
1. Abstract, Title, Author(s), Institution
3. Materials and Methods
Examples of scientific paper posters. In making scientific paper posters, the biggest challenge is to be concise and clean, that is, not too many contents, not jampacked as these will impair the clarity of the texts and pictures because of sacrifice in size. On the other side of the balance is the usual impulse to be complete and detailed in information. As mentioned in most guidelines, the contents of the scientific paper posters must be simple and readable from a distance of about 4 ft.
An example of a scientific paper poster which I think can still be improved by decreasing the word contents, particularly in the Introduction, Discussion and Bibliography.
An example of a scientific paper poster which I think can still be improved by decreasing the word contents, particularly in Abstract.
Information Posters – Big Ones
Clear and Clean!
Clear and Clean!
Suggested area of improvement: create more contrast between the texts and the background – specifically on the following segments: “Promoting, Protecting Health,” “One-on-One Lecture or Group Lecture,” “Self-monitoring Devices for Sale” and “ProHealth Education and Research Center.”
Clean and simple. Suggested improvement: contrast between the texts and the background.
Not clear as texts are small. Not clean as the background is dirty and obscuring the clarity of the texts.
The blue boxes with black fonts in the lower right portion, “ANO ANG SINTOMAS NG DIABETES,” need to be improved. NOT clear! Poor contrast!
Information Posters – Smaller Ones
The best poster is the one on the right lower corner – clear and clean. The poorest among the four is the one on the right upper corner as the size of the font used in the content-texts (below the title) is too small to be readable at a distance of 4 feet.
The best poster is the one on the right lower corner – clear and clean. The poorest among the four is the one on the right upper corner as the size of the font used in the content-texts is too small to be readable at a distance of 4 feet and there is lack of contrast between the contents and the background.
The best billboard is the one on the left upper corner – very clear and very clean. In the others, the contents are too small to be readily readable at a distance of 20 feet.
The best billboard is the one on the left lower corner – very clear and very clean. In the others, the contents are too small to be readily readable at a distance of 20 feet.
Very attractive and eye catching but with an error – “SAFETY PREVENTION.”