Which Fonts to Use on Your Scientific Poster

Choosing the right font (A.K.A. typeface) for your scientific poster is all about two things: readability and style.


But with thousands of fonts to choose from, it can be overwhelming.


So where do you start? You’ve come to the right place.


Here is what you need to know to choose a clear and stylish font for your scientific poster.



Serif or sans serif?

A serif font is one with those little bits on the end of the characters, the little moustaches. And, like a moustache, those little bits are just for style - they might be cool, but they’re not necessary.

What’s more, a serif font tends to give off a sophisticated, yet dated, vibe. As you want to your poster to reflect the innovative and contemporary research you’re conducting, it’s a good idea to stay away from serif fonts.



You need a font that is without serif, that’s sans serif.

How many fonts?


Like so much of good design: less is more.


One or two fonts is all you need. If you have more fonts than this, your poster will look like a ransom note received in the mail.


Headers


As you know, it’s a good idea to make the headers clearly visible so help the viewer navigate the poster.


You can do this by making the headings bold or ALL CAPS. If you like the look of all caps, I strongly recommend against using any long headings. Long chucks of all caps is very difficult to read. So keep your headings short.


Decorative fonts


Look, I get it. You found the Disney font and you want to use it on your poster. A decorative font may be tempting, but it’s just not helpful - they’re very rarely easier to read than the standard sans serif fonts available. Take a look below to see what I mean.


Comic Sans?


Comic Sans is a sans serif font, it’s also fun - can we use it on our scientific posters?


No.


Nope.


Every time a scientist uses Comic Sans a graphic designer dies


BUT there is one exception. That is if your poster IS a comic!


If that’s the case, go for it! In this context Comic Sans is perfect and it would almost be a crime not to use it. Here’s a comic-style graphical abstract that is a perfect partner for the much maligned Comic Sans.



Size


Bigger is better. At Animate Your Science, we believe posters are best served as a visual representation of your abstract. It’s about starting a conversation and that’s it - the rest is up to you.


So a poster with few elements, that can be seen from across the room, is perfect.


For this we recommend the following font sizes as a minimum for your text (based on an A0 size):


Title: 90

Headers: 40

Body text: 40


Your body text should be easily readable from 1 metre away.


To check that you have the right sizes, I suggest zooming in on your poster to 100 %. Then, take a step back to a metre or so. If you can clearly read the body text, then at a minimum, your text is big enough. You can use the same technique to test the sizes of your headers and title too.


Some suitable fonts


You have plenty of fonts to choose from. You’re not even limited to those default fonts installed on your computer. Check out Font Squirrel, Dafont, and 1001freefonts where you can download some new fonts for free.


For some ideas, check out these fonts:


That’s plenty of info dedicated to fonts for your scientific poster, so thanks for hanging in there with me.


But, we’ve only just scratched the surface on what makes a great scientific poster.


To properly cover this topic, we’ve developed a whole online course: How to Design an Award-Winning Scientific Poster. You can learn at your own pace and arm yourself with the tools, templates, skills and knowledge to create your own award-winning scientific posters. We’ve had excellent feedback on the 33 video lessons, 3 hours of learning and 8 templates & downloads included - so we’re confident that you’ll love it too.

Take-Away Points

  • One or two fonts

  • Sans serif is your friend

  • Make it large enough to be easily readable


Authors:

Dr Tullio Rossi

Dr Flynn Slattery


#scicomm #poster #science

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