Peter Sweeney
OOPSLA 2000 Posters Chair

This guide is for the accepted authors of the OOPSLA 2000
Poster Session. It includes information on posters in
general, poster materials (including the extended abstracts),
and schedule of events, among other things. You may want
to keep this paper close at hand from now until the opening
of the conference, particularly due to the scheduling and
location information that it contains.

What is a poster session? This section is particularly
for those of you who have little idea of what a poster
session is all about.

As stated in the call for participation, the poster
session is an alternative forum for authors to present
the results of their work. Posters, at least for the
OOPSLA 2000 conference, cover the same technical areas
of interest and reflect the same degree of professionalism
in their work as in the technical papers, yet are
different in two respects.

The first difference is in the manner in which the
material is presented by the author(s). There is an
interactive session associated with the posters, where
all the poster authors attend their posters and
conference attendees can discuss the work with the
authors. You, as the poster author, must remain at your
poster during this time. You may choose to have a
prepared talk about your work, although such a talk is
best kept very short and used as an introduction to open
up the conversations. The discussions tend to be open and
free flowing. Don't be shy about engaging the viewers in
conversation! If you're shy and they're shy, it will be
very quiet out there!

Besides, in poster sessions, you are allowed to ask
questions of the viewers as well as have them ask
questions of you! If your poster represents work-in-
progress, you can use this opportunity to gather input
about how to direct, improve, and strengthen your work
and link it to others. Challenge the viewers to
demonstrate their ingenuity and ability to think on their
feet, to help provide insight into the nastiest problems
you've encountered, or contribute to your research vision.
Posters mean exercises for the viewers as well as
the authors: take advantage of this situation!

After the interactive session, posters will be on display
in the exhibit hall for the remainder of the conference.
It is not necessary for you to stay with your poster during
this time. Because others will view your poster when you are
not present, your poster MUST BE SELF-EXPLANATORY!
Because you will not be there to present it yourself, the poster
must present a well thought-out, informative, and complete
story (some helpful hints on poster design are included
in subsequent sections).

The second difference between posters and papers is in
the manner in which the material itself is presented. The
poster is a vertical, illustrated display of your work,
which essentially takes the place of a series of slides
or overheads that you would use in a paper presentation.
The poster medium can be used very effectively. Creativity
and innovation are encouraged!

Poster sessions are frequently used to communicate
technical data. They are usually held in conjunction with
symposia and technical society meetings and have become
increasingly popular.  Poster sessions are often used to
support or replace slide presentations given to larger

One advantage of a poster is that specialist audiences
can be targeted and reached effectively, especially when
the poster presenter is available to answer questions.  A
poster that is self-explanatory will still be an
effective marketing or educational tool even when the
presenter is not there.

In these notes, guidelines are presented for getting
started and for using a poster.  Often, graphics staff
and technical communication specialists (editors) in your
organization have experience in producing posters and can
offer valuable advice on the design, layout, and text of
your poster.  Consult with them to get ideas before
starting your poster or to get suggestions for presenting
your own ideas most effectively.

Getting Started
The poster size is 8 feet wide by 4 feet tall
(approximately 2.4 meters by 1.2 meters).

Posters are usually divided into sections, such as 1)
title, 2) objectives / introduction, 3) methods, and 4)
results and conclusions. The title should include your
name and company affiliation.  The title should emphasize
a primary benefit to the target audience and should be
visible from "across the room."  Photos, figures, and
tables should stand alone (be self-explanatory); your
audience should be able to walk up to the poster and
understand it.

Focus on a narrow topic or key points rather than trying
to put the entire text of a speech onto a poster.  Begin
by determining what is unique about your concepts, then
select important points to support that main idea.

Drafting the Text
A technical communication specialist can help you draft
or edit your poster text.  Keep in mind that your text
must be presented in a typeface that can be read from 3
to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) away.  Therefore, all text
should be simple and concise.  The poster should not be
an outline, but should be brief like an outline.  Omit
unnecessary articles (a, an, the, etc.) when possible.
Use easily recognized abbreviations, but use them
sparingly; some people may not be familiar with them.

Bulleted items are a better way to highlight selected
data and significant results than paragraphs of
information.  The easier it is for readers to absorb the
information, the more likely they will retain it.  If
detailed information is important, consider supplementary
handouts or verbal explanations.  If you use handouts, be
sure they include a summary of the presentation along
with your name, address, and professional affiliation.

Visual Appeal
The poster's visual appeal is important.  Use high-
quality photos and simplified graphics to explain key
ideas.  Use well-chosen figures and tables to save words
and to improve the overall appearance. Color can both
enhance the message and give useful information (for
example, use color to represent a particular concept
throughout).  Consider using bar charts or line graphs
instead of tables or tabular materials.

Consult graphics and technical communication specialists
early in developing your poster to save time and money.
They can help create a special look for the text, give
old figures a new look so they can be used in the poster,
and select color combinations that will add interest and
consistency to the presentation.  They can also help to
determine which concepts should be portrayed visually and
which should be portrayed using text.

Using the Poster
After the poster is designed, proofed, and built, be sure
you have a hard copy of the design layout to take along
as a reference for setting up the poster correctly and
quickly.  You may want to number the back of each piece
and sketch a small drawing of how it will appear on the
poster board.  If the poster is used again, the design
layout will be readily available.

Keep in mind other uses for the poster after the session,
such as a laboratory display or slides from individual
figures, viewgraphs, or report art.

Part of your original submission was an extended abstract,
a 2-page description of the poster content (those of you
creating posters summarizing workshop activities may not
have written one of these).  Attendees will have a copy of
these abstracts in their Companion, but we also ask that
you provide one copy of the abstract at your poster station.
Not all attendees will be carrying their companion with
them, and this will make your poster easier to understand
on its own.  Please mark very clearly on the front page
of this abstract "POSTER SESSION COPY -- DO NOT
REMOVE".  Even with this note, we suggest that you bring
extra copies of your abstract just in case the first
one receives a coffee spill or mysteriously disappears.

It is also quite likely that you'll be asked for copies
of supporting documents you've written and perhaps your
graphics. It's your decision and responsibility whether
to provide these at the conference or not.  At a minimum,
you may want to have a cookie jar or an empty pocket
handy to collect business cards of those interested in
receiving copies of materials after the conference.

Here is the general schedule for the poster session (This
is the schedule as we know it today and I do not expect any
major changes):

Monday, October 16
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Authors set up Posters for Interactive Session at Welcome
Reception (in the Hilton Hotel)

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Interactive Poster Session (Authors must be at poster to
converse with attendees)

7:30 PM - 8:30 PM (after the Reception)
Authors DISASSEMBLE posters.  This is important, because we
will be moving the boards to the Exhibit Hall.

Tuesday, October 17
9:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Authors set up Posters for remainder of conference (in
Exhibit Hall 2 of the Minneapolis Convention Center).

10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Posters on display; author's discretion on attendance.

Wednesday, October 18
10:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Posters on display; author's discretion on attendance.

Thursday, October 19
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Posters on display; author's discretion on attendance.

3:00 PM
Authors disassemble posters to take home.

The opening of the poster session occurs at 5:30 PM on
Monday evening.  The interactive part of the Poster
Session will be the key attraction at the Welcome
Reception.  You'll have a good audience.  The posters
will be on display where the reception takes place.

Authors are responsible for transporting their poster
material to the Hilton Hotel that evening at 4:00 PM
for set up.  Each author will be provided a corkboard
that is approximately 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide.  There
will be a table underneath the corkboard that will allow
15 inches (by about 6 feet long) of table space for you
to spread out your materials.  There will be another
poster on the other side of the corkboard, so please
don't take up more table width than is your share!

Table space will be marked off and your name and poster
title will appear on your space so that you can find your
spot for set up.  Other than table space, we will not be
providing any construction materials. Bring your own pins,
tacks, tape, and whatever other set-up materials you
need to assemble your poster.  Practice your setup at
least once before coming to the conference.

**Electricity will NOT be provided to the posters.**

I will be available Monday morning and Monday afternoon
to answer any questions you have.  You can either leave a
message on the board or at my hotel (Hilton Minneapolis & Towers).

Life gets easier following the interactive session.
Normal mode of operation is for the posters to be
unattended by the authors, although you may attend your
poster whenever you like, whenever the Exhibit Hall is
open.  It would be a good idea to post a schedule on your
poster indicating when you will be there to answer
questions.  It would also be useful to attach a
photograph of yourself so that attendees can look for you
during the course of the conference.

The Exhibit Hall will be monitored by security guards, so
entire posters will probably not be disappearing during
the conference :-).  However, it's also probably not a good
idea to leave valuable equipment or other items when you
are not there (e.g., portable computers). Because the vast
majority of the time the posters are on display on their
own, you can see the strong requirement to have the poster
be self-explanatory in words and pictures!

If possible, we suggest checking on your poster every so
often (e.g., perhaps once or twice a day) to ensure no one
has replaced your graphics with advertisements or some

Posters should be taken down on Thursday at 3:00 PM.
Authors are responsible for taking down and transporting
their materials home.  If you need to leave the
conference early, you should take down your poster before
you leave.

We hope that we've covered the information that you need
to help you assemble an outstanding poster, to get you to
and through the poster session itself, and to help you
enjoy this process.  If you have any questions or
concerns, don't hesitate to contact me.

1. Remember: a poster tells a story, but in a different
way than a paper does.  Enlarging the text from your
paper and plastering these pages on the poster mounting
board isn't as effective as designing a display that
features illustrations as the focal point.

2. Many poster presenters spent several hours during the
conference with their posters and enjoyed interesting
discussions with attendees.  We encourage you to make use
of this time as well!  Popular times for poster viewing
seemed to be during breaks between technical sessions and
other open periods during the conference.  Probably many
of the open times you discover in your own schedule
during the conference will be open times for others and
therefore good times for poster viewing.

3. Many poster authors stayed at the interactive session
for quite a while after the official end of the event.
And they loved it, because the interactions they were
having were so interesting!

4. Don't arrive at the last minute to assemble your
poster for the interactive session!!  Tacking up charts
and pictures and other items takes a long time to do
right, and if you are tacking while others are
conversing, you'll look unprepared.  Practice at home