Guidelines for Posters and Presentations

Guidelines for Posters and Presentations

Photo by Korinna Domingo from the 2019 TWS-WS Wildlife Photo Slideshow

Concurrent Session Guidelines:

Most of you will be planning a PowerPoint presentation. We will have a laptop computer and LCD projector with remote control. Presentations must be brought to the meeting on a USB Memory Stick (thumb drive). No other form of file transfer will be accepted. Plan to bring your presentation to the AV volunteer of the session’s assigned room in the morning, 30 minutes prior to the start of the session.  We will load presentations for the morning and afternoon.  Afternoon presenters can also bring their presentation down at lunch 30 minutes prior to the start of the session.  Presentations will not be accepted as you are walking to the podium.

General Information:

  1. We will be using ONE computer for all presentations in each room.  You will not have the option of using your laptop for your presentation; there simply is no time between speakers to unplug one laptop and plug in another.
  2. PowerPoint files can be in EITHER .ppt (version 2000-2003) OR .pptx (version 2007 or later) format. The laptops will have at least PowerPoint 2007 loaded.
  3. Personal Document Format (PDF) files can also be used. Be sure you have formatted them and tested them on a standard projector and 4:3 ratio screen.
  4. Other presentation or multi-media software systems will not be considered unless an absolute minimum of two weeks notice is provided to the Program Chair; these will be accepted at our discretion.
  5. We will NOT have Internet access for the speakers.  Any websites you wish to show must be static images in your PowerPoint presentation.
  6. You should NOT rely on the various “transition” functions (such as clicking for every bullet to fly in); these often add unnecessary complications and potential delay.
  7. All audio or visual files must be compatible with a standard Windows-based laptop and PowerPoint without any special files installed.
  8. No live animals/wildlife may be displayed as part of your presentation.
  9. If you want to record a video of your talk, be sure to make arrangements ahead of time with your session chair.
  10. New for 2019!  PowerPoint ‘Presenter View’ mode will be possible as the laptop will be set at the podium.

Things to keep in mind as you prepare your presentation:

  1. To keep file sizes small in PowerPoint, add pictures by clicking Insert>Picture>From File rather than copying and pasting images into your presentation.  Please resize files with photo editing software to minimize file sizes.   You may also compress your images.
  2. Do not put important information in the bottom 1/3 of the slide. It may be difficult to see from the back of the room.
  3. The projection screen is large and so is the room.  Use the on-screen (4:3) ratio for your presentation and not widescreen.
  4. We recommend using only 2 font sizes on slides. 36-48 or larger for titles, and 24-30 or larger for text. Use only standard fonts or ensure you’ve embedded the fonts correctly.  For emphasis, select bold or italics, color, or shadows. In graphics with one or two words, using “art fonts” for emphasis will work if separated from quantities of body of text. Complex font body style may cause loss of the “punch” you intended. You cannot go wrong with the selection of Arial or Times for body of text. Font size should be large enough to be visible for approximately 40 feet (to the last row of seats in the room).
  5. As you have probably seen at previous meetings, complex charts, tables, and graphs are rarely effective for a large audience.
  6. Be sure you have permission to use data and present information and that you properly reference sources as appropriate.
  7. If using special fonts, especially for formulas, be sure to embed the fonts into the PowerPoint file.  Be sure to test it on a computer without the special fonts or create a PDF file to be safe.
  8. When you give your talk, be sure to talk directly into the mic.

Other recommendations:

  1. Bring a paper copy printout of your talk.
  2. A good guide is no more than 8 lines of text per slide…10 max
  3. Line spacing on slides should be at least 0.85
  4. Use upper and lower case mix for body text, large amounts of all upper-case text is difficult to read
  5. There should be a good contrast between background and text or graphic.  Using a picture as the entire background can be problematic. If using a picture as a slide background, watch for split areas of light and dark (ex. bright sky and dark ground areas in the same photo). This presents a problem for arranging text. If using a solid color background, most of these problems will not exist for you. The background color gray is one of the most difficult colors to contrast with. We will still have a fair amount of light in the room during the presentation for note taking. With this in mind, like-on-like colors will be difficult to see, such as white lettering on light blue background or yellow on green. Light colors such as soft yellows and pinks used as text, points, or lines on graphs do no project well when enlarged and projected (In fact, they usually do not show up unless on top of a dark background). Line weights and direction arrows need to be heavy enough to be seen without overpowering the image.
  6. Red text: Do not use it. Bright red is difficult for the eye to read for any period of time. If you must, use bright red for emphasis only. 10% of your audience will have some degree of color perception impairment.  The following combinations should be avoided:
    1. Red text on blue and vice versa
    2. Red text on brown and vice versa
    3. Red text on green and vice versa
  7. Practice your presentation in advance. Most people speak faster when they are nervous, so it’s likely ok if your presentation takes 16-17 minutes in practice, but not more than that.  However, practice it with a coworker or friend, too – some people tend to add extra information when they’re nervous, making a well- rehearsed 16-minute presentation take 20 or more minutes.
  8. Don’t use too many slides (one every 15 seconds) or too few (3-5 in a 20-minute presentation). A good rule of thumb is to use about one slide for every 1 to 2 minutes of your presentation.   It’s also good to vary the length that you project each slide.
  9. Again, “transition” slides (with each bullet point flying in or similar) can be problematic, depending upon the computer on which the presentation was created and the one used at the meeting. If you must use them, stick to the standard ones to ensure compatibility on the laptops in the room.

Sessions will be kept on a tight schedule. Presentations are scheduled to switch at 20 minutes. You should plan on giving the session chair about 20-30 seconds for a speaker biography (which you will be asked to provide), and then ideally allow for 2-3 minutes at the end of your presentation for Questions and Answers (there will be a scheduled Q&A for the session after some sessions). Thus, your presentation in rehearsal should take between 14 and 17 minutes. If your presentation takes more than 20 minutes, change it now. And if your presentation will take substantially less than 20 minutes (e.g., you will only speak for 12 minutes), please inform the session chair well in advance.
Session Chairs or timers will provide silent time cues, typically at 5, 3, and 1 minutes before your time has expired. Most chairs will use an audible, often loud cue when time is expired. If you’ve reached the 19th minute and still haven’t said “and in conclusion” (or words to that effect), you might be in trouble…Our session chairs can be ruthless – and we like it that way.

Poster Session Guidelines:

All posters should be set up on Wednesday between 2-4pm in the Holiday Inn Exhibit Hall Ballroom.  Poster viewing and judging will take place starting Wednesday, February 5 at 4pm through Thursday, February 6 at 8:30pm.  Posters should be removed on Friday morning.  Poster boards will be numbered and presenters should attach their posters to the board number corresponding to the number assigned to their posters. Board number assignments and confirmation of your setup time will be provided by the Poster Session Chairs a few weeks before the conference.

A poster session and reception will be held on Thursday, February 6 from 6:30 – 8:30pm. Hors d’ouevres will be served along with a no-host bar.   All poster presenters are asked to be available at their poster to discuss their work with interested viewers.

Poster Size Specifications
Posters must be no more than 4 feet wide by 3 feet tall.  Please note that posters exceeding the size standards may have to be relocated or not exhibited in the session. Display boards will be provided.  New for 2019:  The Western Section is building re-usable PVC/Canvas display boards.  The Western Section will provide materials for attaching posters to our display boards. Business cards or small leaflet literature for distribution may be inserted in an envelope and affixed to your poster.

Poster Presentation Guidelines

  1. The purpose of the poster is to convey highlights of your study in manner that can be easily read and understood in less than 5 minutes. Keep text brief – efficient use of limited words and images is necessary. It is not advisable to display the entire text from a manuscript. Too much detail detracts from the primary message of the text. Consider using bulleted phrases rather than complete sentences, where appropriate.
  2. A three column format fits best in landscape. The flow of the poster should be from the top to bottom of each column, and from the left column to right columns.
  3. Text and figures should be readable to someone standing six feet away.  Adjust font and image sizes accordingly. BIG IS BEAUTIFUL and easy to read.
  4. Suggested font type and size
    • Sans serif typeface, such as Arial, is best for good visibility at a distance; keep font type consistent throughout. Simple typefaces are preferable to fancy fonts. Bold type may be effective on headings.
    • Title – 72 point or larger; keep it short and limited to one line.
    • Authors’ names and affiliations – 48 point; limited to two lines.
    • Section headings – 36 point.
    • Text – 28 point.
    • Graphs and tables – all numbers and labels 28 point or larger.
    • Graph bars and symbols – use colors; avoid cross hatching.
    • Acknowledgments – 20 to 24 point
  5. Use appropriate and compatible colors for fonts, backgrounds, graphics, and matting. Photographs and color should be used to enhance the attractiveness of the poster and to entice the audience to stop and read it. White or light pastel backgrounds are attractive and allow use of contrasting font colors, such as black, dark blue, and red. Use of photographs as backgrounds is not recommended, because legibility of text and graphics is usually compromised.
  6. Keep graphs and photos simple. Convey only one idea per graph, table, or photograph. Graphs are preferred over tables. Graphs need to be carefully designed so that they are readily comprehended and include captions. Details should be kept to a minimum. Figures from publications, theses, or dissertations normally do not make good visuals. Too much detail detracts from the primary message of the figure.
  7. Use appropriate blank space between words, sections, and figures. A blank space 1.5 inches wide between columns is best.
  8. Poster elements
  • Title
  • Authors’ names and affiliations appear below the title.
  • Abstract (optional)
  • Introduction: limit to a few statements and clearly state study objectives.
  • Methods or Experimental Design: keep text minimal, use graphics where possible.
  • Results: this section should take up most of the space; keep statements brief.
  • Conclusions: limit this section to a few bulleted statements or brief paragraph.
  • Acknowledgments: include when appropriate; limit to a few statements.

We recommend the following resource which offers great suggestions on how to improve your poster presentation: Please note:  We will not accept last minute substitutions or allow posters to be presented that were not part of the submittal process.  No live animals, please.


Photo of our poster displays. We will provide magnets and binder clips to attach the posters to our canvas panels.