TRB Poster Lessons Learned

This is my first year doing a TRB Annual Meeting poster. I've learned a few things along the way.  I imagine I'll have some new things learned by lunch next Wednesday.

Start Early

The office plotter went down the Monday before I was to leave. This happened to be the day I wanted to print my initial draft. While it was "a noise" that ultimately fixed by one of our GIS people, it was a not much of a scary moment because I had time to work around any potential issues.

48" x 96" is BIG

See the pic. That's my office (well, part of it, anyway). I can only look at half at a time, and since I have a pillar in my office, it is very difficult to tape it to the wall (which I did, see the second picture). For your first poster, you'll probably go back to TRB's website and double check the poster guidelines to ensure you didn't mis-read the size.

wpid-2014-01-06-13.45.41.jpg wpid-2014-01-06-14.05.07.jpg

Note that mine is 42" x 90". I sized it partly because I have a plastic travel tube (I really don't know the real name of these things) and the biggest it'll go is about 42".

Expect to Plot At Least Twice

Expect you'll find something, maybe a few things, in your first plot. Have your boss, directs, and other relevant people look at it, too, because they may find things AND you may see things.

Three Important Things

There are really three important things that have to be very prominent on your poster: the title, your name, and the paper number. Obviously, everything else is important too, but some people only get a very short period of time, so they may see something, note the paper number, and look it up later. If you're poster isn't visually striking, though, this isn't as important.

Don't Use Glossy Paper

Originally I was going to plot my poster on vinyl stock. When I did a Google Image Search for "trb best posters", I noticed that it would be better to stick with matte (non-reflective) paper. The lights right above the display area would likely glare on glossy paper.  The matte finish of standard bond paper is probably best.

Acrobat is a Better Friend than Microsoft

Lacking any real good platform for building a poster and having the entire crummy Microsoft Office Suite at my disposal, I used Microsoft Publisher. Oh how I LOATHE Publisher now. First off, apparently Microsoft and Canon can't get their act straight when it comes to plotting on a 42" roll because no matter what I did (and I'm a computer expert), I couldn't get the Canon driver to save the 42" x 90" custom page size. I exported the entire poster to a PDF and had ZERO ISSUES doing that.

Aside from it's inability to print to anything larger than a Tabloid-sized sheet of paper, the bullets in Publisher SUCK. They are too close to the baseline. I guess at 10-12 point, it doesn't matter, but when your body-text font size is 28 points (0.39", 9.88mm), yeah, it matters.

Hyphens... Hyphens, hyphens, hyphens... HOW DO YOU TURN OFF THE #$%^ HYPHENS??? One would think that it would be somewhere in Format - Paragraph, but it isn't.

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