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Whilst one poster gathers dust in the corner of a TU workplace, another serves as scientific wallpaper in the corridor. A poster on the wall of a department's coffee room is the academic version of a pin-up in a garage.

Are posters still worth producing?A poster's finest hour is during the conference for which it was designed. In the spotlight, with a bit of luck, it may even be studied carefully by a handful of researchers. "There is often a disappointing lack of interest for posters", claims Jeroen den Hollander, a fourth year PhD student at the Kluyver laboratory. "A conference is often jam-packed with lectures. Poster sessions don't get the attention they deserve. Nearly everybody takes a poster home, as it's virtually impossible to look at everything."Den Hollander made two posters in the course of his research and 'recycled' these at a number of functions. "I use a poster several times because making a new one usually takes two or three days". Moreover, Den Hollander has the advantage of not being required to design the complete layout for his poster. At the Kluyver laboratory, a computer file with a standard basic layout of a poster is general circulation. With it, researchers receive a manual that explains how and where to print the poster. The manual's advice reads: make your poster using Microsoft's PowerPoint and have it printed at Kontrast's.TediousKontrast Reproservice can't complain about the Kluyver laboratory's manual, because not only does it recommend Kontrast as the regular poster supplier, but it also recommends the use of PowerPoint. Peter van Leeuwen, Kontrast's production manager, has plenty of experience with the tedious difficulties arising from the use of more complicated graphics software. "Special characters can appear as strange signs on poster plots, textboxes may hide other objects and objects imported from other programmes may cause additional problems. If a layman works with an advanced graphics programme, things often go wrong. PowerPoint is user friendlier. What you see (on the VDU) is what you get (on paper)"Annually, Kontrast plots several hundred posters for TU Delft. "Whenever research groups go to a conference, the demand for our poster service increases dramatically", says Petra de Jong, who owns the printer's located in the Tanthof. Six years ago, two colour plotters were purchased by the printer with which posters can be printed. "In the past, posters were always printed within the TU, but as the waiting lists lengthened people started coming to us" explains de Jong. "The number of posters we print continues to increase, partly because we are well known; but I think also because more posters are produced in general."SpoiltNot all researchers need to cycle to Delft South to have their posters printed. Some sections, such as the group Process Equipment for Industry (API), have their own colour plotter. When, in late 1998, the plotter for technical drawings needed replacing, it was decided to purchase a colour plotter, which could also print posters.André van den Bosch, draughtsman-constructor, is responsible for printing the posters at API. He estimates the paper and ink costs of one poster amount to about ten guilders, which excludes labour costs and the write off of the plotter. Compared with the price of a poster at Kontrast, fl.92,50, which does not include the application of a protective plastic coating, the financial advantages of having a colour plotter are obvious. However, the financial gains were not the most important reason for the section to decide to print their own posters. Van den Bosch: "If you have posters printed externally, a special receipt has to be made up, somebody needs to cycle to the printers and you must wait several days before you can see the result. I believe the printer pays for itself in terms of time gained. Unfortunately, people have become rather spoilt. Sometimes they arrive at three o'clock and want their posters by five. Ten years ago it was quite normal to wait two weeks for a poster. In those days, you stuck everything onto a large sheet of paper and had to take it to the photographic department, where a poster format photo would be taken. "PhD student Gerard Hofland is one of the researchers who let Van den Bosch print his posters. Hofland hasproduced five posters during his research, which has lasted four and a half years. "Making a poster has become progressively less time consuming," Hofland says. "The first poster took ages. Then I realised that, compared with A4 format, things look very different on A0 format. I was making texts which were far too small, expecting them to look big enough on poster-size. Also, a picture on my screen wouldn't appear on the poster, this kept on going wrong until I decided to print the picture separately and stick it onto the poster."CartoonBy now, Hofland has mastered the art of poster design. At the Chemistry Research Netherlands Conference, in January, his poster won him a trip to a large chemistry conference in the United States. "Apparently, the jury chose my design because the poster was fairly empty and uncluttered. I believe the message should be obvious at first glance, otherwise people will pass it by. My first poster was covered with large pieces of text, but nobody really read them. The poster should be like a cartoon, the text should only connect the images."Hofland's attention to the graphic aspects of a poster is unusual. Many scientists regard a poster as an enormous sheet of paper which ought to be covered with a vast amount of information. Tieme Dekker, a graphic designer at the TU's Multimedia Services, affirms this. Dekker designs tens of scientific posters for researches every year. Dekker: "I only take care of the lay-out. The researchers provide the contents of the posters. Usually, there is a lot of material involved. In principle, I don't get involved in the contents, but there are limits. If the letters become very small you might as well not bother making a poster at all."NewspaperDekker is not usually impressed by posters which have been designed by scientists. "My posters have been designed to integrate text and images. Amateurs combine a picture with a story and do not really consider the graphic design. Every man has his own profession, don't you think? I draw people's attention by using coloured surfaces, many scientists fill a white background with black letters and images; I call those posters newspapers."Whether the posters have been designed by professionals or not, according to PhD student Hofland, Dutch posters attract attention at conferences abroad because they look well produced. "You often see foreign posters which consist of a collection of loose sheets of paper", he says, " I remember a Russian once displayed a couple of A4 pages of totally incomprehensible text at a conference. The nice thing was that he attracted a lot of questions this way. He loyally remained beside his poster and clarified his work so enthusiastically, that he managed to excite many people.''This example demonstrates that as long as a poster attracts attention, it doesn't actually matter how. Promovendus Den Hollander has noticed this. He illustrated a poster about chromatographic separation with his own picture of the colourful 'Chromatic Spring' in Yellowstone Park. "The photograph was not directly relevant to my research but people did ask a lot of questions about it. Once one is engaged in a conversation, the actual research topics inevitably arise". In short, a scientific poster is just an ordinary contact advertisement, which just happens to measure one by one and a half metres.

Whilst one poster gathers dust in the corner of a TU workplace, another serves as scientific wallpaper in the corridor. A poster on the wall of a department's coffee room is the academic version of a pin-up in a garage. Are posters still worth producing?A poster's finest hour is during the conference for which it was designed. In the spotlight, with a bit of luck, it may even be studied carefully by a handful of researchers. "There is often a disappointing lack of interest for posters", claims Jeroen den Hollander, a fourth year PhD student at the Kluyver laboratory. "A conference is often jam-packed with lectures. Poster sessions don't get the attention they deserve. Nearly everybody takes a poster home, as it's virtually impossible to look at everything."Den Hollander made two posters in the course of his research and 'recycled' these at a number of functions. "I use a poster several times because making a new one usually takes two or three days". Moreover, Den Hollander has the advantage of not being required to design the complete layout for his poster. At the Kluyver laboratory, a computer file with a standard basic layout of a poster is general circulation. With it, researchers receive a manual that explains how and where to print the poster. The manual's advice reads: make your poster using Microsoft's PowerPoint and have it printed at Kontrast's.TediousKontrast Reproservice can't complain about the Kluyver laboratory's manual, because not only does it recommend Kontrast as the regular poster supplier, but it also recommends the use of PowerPoint. Peter van Leeuwen, Kontrast's production manager, has plenty of experience with the tedious difficulties arising from the use of more complicated graphics software. "Special characters can appear as strange signs on poster plots, textboxes may hide other objects and objects imported from other programmes may cause additional problems. If a layman works with an advanced graphics programme, things often go wrong. PowerPoint is user friendlier. What you see (on the VDU) is what you get (on paper)"Annually, Kontrast plots several hundred posters for TU Delft. "Whenever research groups go to a conference, the demand for our poster service increases dramatically", says Petra de Jong, who owns the printer's located in the Tanthof. Six years ago, two colour plotters were purchased by the printer with which posters can be printed. "In the past, posters were always printed within the TU, but as the waiting lists lengthened people started coming to us" explains de Jong. "The number of posters we print continues to increase, partly because we are well known; but I think also because more posters are produced in general."SpoiltNot all researchers need to cycle to Delft South to have their posters printed. Some sections, such as the group Process Equipment for Industry (API), have their own colour plotter. When, in late 1998, the plotter for technical drawings needed replacing, it was decided to purchase a colour plotter, which could also print posters.André van den Bosch, draughtsman-constructor, is responsible for printing the posters at API. He estimates the paper and ink costs of one poster amount to about ten guilders, which excludes labour costs and the write off of the plotter. Compared with the price of a poster at Kontrast, fl.92,50, which does not include the application of a protective plastic coating, the financial advantages of having a colour plotter are obvious. However, the financial gains were not the most important reason for the section to decide to print their own posters. Van den Bosch: "If you have posters printed externally, a special receipt has to be made up, somebody needs to cycle to the printers and you must wait several days before you can see the result. I believe the printer pays for itself in terms of time gained. Unfortunately, people have become rather spoilt. Sometimes they arrive at three o'clock and want their posters by five. Ten years ago it was quite normal to wait two weeks for a poster. In those days, you stuck everything onto a large sheet of paper and had to take it to the photographic department, where a poster format photo would be taken. "PhD student Gerard Hofland is one of the researchers who let Van den Bosch print his posters. Hofland hasproduced five posters during his research, which has lasted four and a half years. "Making a poster has become progressively less time consuming," Hofland says. "The first poster took ages. Then I realised that, compared with A4 format, things look very different on A0 format. I was making texts which were far too small, expecting them to look big enough on poster-size. Also, a picture on my screen wouldn't appear on the poster, this kept on going wrong until I decided to print the picture separately and stick it onto the poster."CartoonBy now, Hofland has mastered the art of poster design. At the Chemistry Research Netherlands Conference, in January, his poster won him a trip to a large chemistry conference in the United States. "Apparently, the jury chose my design because the poster was fairly empty and uncluttered. I believe the message should be obvious at first glance, otherwise people will pass it by. My first poster was covered with large pieces of text, but nobody really read them. The poster should be like a cartoon, the text should only connect the images."Hofland's attention to the graphic aspects of a poster is unusual. Many scientists regard a poster as an enormous sheet of paper which ought to be covered with a vast amount of information. Tieme Dekker, a graphic designer at the TU's Multimedia Services, affirms this. Dekker designs tens of scientific posters for researches every year. Dekker: "I only take care of the lay-out. The researchers provide the contents of the posters. Usually, there is a lot of material involved. In principle, I don't get involved in the contents, but there are limits. If the letters become very small you might as well not bother making a poster at all."NewspaperDekker is not usually impressed by posters which have been designed by scientists. "My posters have been designed to integrate text and images. Amateurs combine a picture with a story and do not really consider the graphic design. Every man has his own profession, don't you think? I draw people's attention by using coloured surfaces, many scientists fill a white background with black letters and images; I call those posters newspapers."Whether the posters have been designed by professionals or not, according to PhD student Hofland, Dutch posters attract attention at conferences abroad because they look well produced. "You often see foreign posters which consist of a collection of loose sheets of paper", he says, " I remember a Russian once displayed a couple of A4 pages of totally incomprehensible text at a conference. The nice thing was that he attracted a lot of questions this way. He loyally remained beside his poster and clarified his work so enthusiastically, that he managed to excite many people.''This example demonstrates that as long as a poster attracts attention, it doesn't actually matter how. Promovendus Den Hollander has noticed this. He illustrated a poster about chromatographic separation with his own picture of the colourful 'Chromatic Spring' in Yellowstone Park. "The photograph was not directly relevant to my research but people did ask a lot of questions about it. Once one is engaged in a conversation, the actual research topics inevitably arise". In short, a scientific poster is just an ordinary contact advertisement, which just happens to measure one by one and a half metres.

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