Giving a Poster/Paper

kay at fern.com kay at fern.com
Mon Nov 3 02:41:27 EST 1997


In article <62ou6j$f5k_001 at tas.for.csiro.au>,
  Kylie.Shanahan at ffp.csiro.au wrote:
>
> In article <199710231840.NAA21253 at mail.utexas.edu>,
>    linden at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU (linden higgins) wrote:
> <snip>
>
> > Actually, the artists in our dept. say that white on very dark grounds is
> >difficult to read - light, passing through a white "hole", spreads.
> >Therefore, unless the lettering is _exactly_ the correct size and
> >thickness, the letters may be quite difficult to read.
>
> I was told that white or light backgrounds were not as good because any dirt
> on the slide was there for all to see, whereas dark backgrounds hide the dust
> and smudges better.

Linda Reynolds and Doig Simmonds have an excellent book called
"Presentation of Data in Science" (if memory serves).  There's a new
edition, and if it's as good as the first, it's excellent.  They actually
ran? reported? real legibility tests with white on black, black on white,
white on blue, blue on white, etc.  Black on white was superior in
legibility, followed by black on any light color.  White on dark was less
legible unless the exposure was very precise (and that's much more touchy
with slide than print film).

Mumble-mumble years ago, I took the departmental grad students through
some of the ways of making slides for talks.  During the course of that,
we made test slides of black laser print, Times Roman and Helvetica,
regular, boldface, and italic, on white, pink. yellow, goldenrod, light
green, and light blue backgrounds with both slide and color print film
(we mounted the negatives to give us light on dark print).  In large
rooms, with a rather dim projector, black on white, Helvetica regular
lettering was the most legible, followed by black on light yellow, light
green, or light blue.  In smaller rooms, with a brighter screen, we
tended to prefer black on light green or blue, especially when mixing
text slides with "scenery" (e.g., photos of plants, or study sites). The
slightly less contrasty dark on light colors slides were less jarring in
that setting.

In general, we preferred Helvetica regular, then Times Roman boldface for
legibility, followed by Helvetica bold and Times Roman regular.  The
italic faces were not as legible.

In general, our experiences matched those reported in Reynolds and
Simmonds.

The book also contains excellent information on number of words per slide,
number of lines of text per slide, and sizes of lettering.

How well do the guidelines work?  Three of the seven students in the
seminar later won ~best presentation awards".  In a couple of cases, I
suspect it was for the legibility rather than the hotshot science.  ;-)

I also prefer to put a "black" slide in the carousel when I've got
nothing relevant to project (a piece of black leader film is fine).  It
projects as a very dark grey, so you don't have to ask for the projector
to be turned on and off, nor is the transition to the next (brighter)
slide as jarring.

Kay Lancaster  kay at fern.com

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