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Guidelines for Poster Presentations

Dear Best Practice Poster Session Presenters:

Congratulations! The steering committee was delighted with the high quality of the submissions we received to present papers at the Best Practices for Communicating Science and Technology to the Public conference. Your paper was selected because the committee felt it met a number of important criteria that distinguish excellent communications programs.

Your poster session presentations are the highlight of this conference so we want to help you make them as useful as possible for the conference attendees. Below are guidelines we would like you to follow in preparing your posters. There are three different formats where your program information will be presented:

  • at the conference on cloth-covered walls that accept either Velcro or push pins
  • in the conference proceedings
  • on the conference web page to be prepared after the conference and posted on the National Association of Science Writers web site

While we expect the content for these three formats to be very similar, if not identical, the directions for each are slightly different. See below.

A quick note on registration:

NIST will complete the conference registration for everyone who has been selected for the conference. Your registration fee will be waived. We will be completing this registration in the name of the person who submitted the entry. If a different person will be making the poster presentation than the person who sent in the entry, please contact Gail Porter so that this registration information can be changed, (301) 975-3392.

You must make your own hotel reservations and other travel arrangements. Be sure to make your hotel reservations before Feburary 20, 2002, to receive the conference discount and ensure that you get a room. NIST location information, hotel, and other information are provided on this web page:

BEFORE THE CONFERENCE -- Deadline, January 22, 2002 --
Information for Proceedings

The conference proceedings will include a summary of the conference prepared by a science writer, text and/or transcripts from the conference speakers, and one page of text for each poster presentation. To save printing costs, the text pages for the proceedings will be black and white.

To ensure that the proceedings can be prepared and mailed to all conference attendees within a few months of the conference, please send the following information by e-mail to Gail Porter, by Jan. 22. We prefer that you send us electronic files if at all possible. You can send an attached Microsoft Word or a Word Perfect file or you can put all the information requested below in your e-mail.

1) Identifying information -- At the top of the file please list the following:

Title for program
Name of sponsoring organization(s)
Contact person's name and contact information
Name, address, phone number, e-mail address

*Special note about budgets: All programs cost something. Many entries did not include budget information. Programs, at a minimum, require staff time. Most require materials or operating expenses. Please make a genuine effort to estimate how much the sponsoring organization spent in both staff and monetary resources to carry out the program. If you cannot provide a realistic amount for salaries, then at least provide an estimate of the number of full-time employees required or the number of staff hours needed to accomplish the program. Providing an estimated budget will help other organizations decide if a program like yours is feasible for them.

2) A 500-word, narrative abstract describing your communications program -- Please be sure the abstract includes the following in clear, easy-to-understand language:

Communications goal. What did you hope to accomplish? What science and technology content were you hoping to convey?

Target audience. Who were you trying to communicate with? Please don't say the general public. What portion(s) of the general public were you trying to reach?

Research conducted before the program started.
How did you determine the best way to reach your target audience and your communications goal?

Description of the program.
Briefly describe the major elements of the program. Highlight unusual aspects or unique approaches.

How was the program carried out?
Briefly describe the expertise of the staff or personnel involved in implementing the program. Describe the major steps in carrying out the program.

Lessons learned.
What advice would you give to another organization if they were to carry out a similar program? What mistakes did you make and how did you correct them?

Program evaluation.
How did you determine if the program was effective? If you haven't done this evaluation yet, but plan to, explain how you plan to test effectiveness.

3) Photograph, Graphic, Graph, Web Page File, etc. -- Please provide a photograph, illustration, graphic, graph, or other piece of "art" that helps identify your program. This picture or graph should be provided in a resolution that will print well in a black-and-white publication. Minimum resolution should be 300 dpi at 3 inches by 4 inches.

Each poster presentation in the conference proceedings will include the address of a complementary web page where you will be able to provide more detailed information about your program, as well as color photographs, illustrations, or graphics.

DURING THE CONFERENCE -- Poster Presentations

When you arrive at NIST on Wednesday, March 6 about 5:30 p.m. we will show you the area of the special poster wall at NIST where you will be mounting your poster presentation. Please come to the Administration Building, Hall of Flags. This area will be to your left as you enter the Administration Building. When you check in on Wednesday, we will also let you know which day you will be asked to stand next to your poster and answer questions. We have scheduled two poster sessions. Half of the presenters will answer questions on Thursday and half on Friday. This will allow all the presenters to participate in asking other presenters questions.

Each presenter will be assigned a section of the poster wall that is about 60 inches wide and 40 inches tall (about 150 by 100 cm). Before you arrive please be sure that your materials will fit within this space.

We will provide you with either adhesive Velcro tabs or push pins to attach your materials to the poster wall.

We will also supply holders for business cards next to each poster presentation. Please bring business cards so that someone who sees your poster at times other than the poster session (when you will standing in front of it answering questions) can contact you later for additional information.

If your program requires a video or an Internet connection, contact Gail Porter in advance of the meeting. We will provide several televisions and VCRs for viewing videos related to your selected programs. If your program includes a web site, we will be able to provide a limited number of Internet connections. Alternatively, communications programs involving web sites can be shown on laptop computers that already have the key pages loaded onto the computer's hard drive. Presenters who wish to show web sites must provide their own laptop computers. Web sites on display should be related to the selected entry. Laptops must be removed when you are not standing with your presentation. NIST will not be responsible for lost or stolen equipment or materials.

Content: Each poster presentation should include the following in text large enough to be easily read from 3 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) away

Program Title: 1-1.5 inches tall (25 to 38 mm)

Additional Identifying information -- 3/4 to 1 inch (19 to 25 mm)

Name of sponsoring organization(s)
Contact person's name and contact information
Name, address, phone number, e-mail address

Abstract: 20-point text, about 200 words
About two paragraphs describing what type of program was conducted and some conclusions about what made it effective.

Illustrations: Photographs, graphs, graphics, or other "art" that illustrate the program. Graphic information is often easier to process quickly than text information. Look for imaginative ways to graphically explain your program and its impact.

Toolkits: Bulleted information describing how the program was conducted and providing key suggestions for other organizations that might want to implement similar programs.

Research and Evaluation: Bulleted information describing how you decided on the best way to reach your target audience and the conclusions of any evaluation of the program or statistics about usage that help describe the program's effectiveness.

Additional information: Any additional information that you think would enhance the presentation.

AFTER OR DURING THE CONFERENCE -- Deadline March 22, 2002
Files for the conference web site

Shortly after the conference is held we will be posting information about each poster session presentation on the archival conference web site. The address for this web site will be provided in the conference information packet, will be hosted by the National Association of Science Writers, and will be accessible to the general public.

Please provide the electronic files used in preparing your conference poster session presentation. This information should include text files as well as color illustrations and graphics that could not be published in the printed proceedings due to cost but can be easily included in the web site. Please provide these files on a floppy disk, Zip 100 disk, or a CD ROM in PC format. Graphics or photographs should be provided in either GIF or JPG formats. If there is text embedded in these illustrations, they should be provided at a size easily readable on a 15-inch computer screen at 72 dpi resolution.

If you have difficulty providing these files, please contact Gail Porter for assistance,, (301) 975-3392.

If you have any other questions about the directions provided above, please contact either Rick Borchelt or Gail Porter as noted below.

Once again, congratulations on being selected to present a poster at the conference, and we will look forward to meeting each of you on March 6.


Best Practice Conference Organizers

Rick Borchelt, (202) 586-6702

Gail Porter, (301) 975-3392

Created: 8/9/01
Last updated: 11/8/01
Contact: Gail Porter