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Which is a better poster orientation: Vertical/portrait (taller than wide) or horizontal/landscape (wider than tall)? Assume that the content does not "naturally" fit either of these formats so as to make one choice obvious.

Are there any studies that explore the differences between these two?
If you aren't aware of any, what psychological mechanisms might underly differences in the way people perceive the research (or researcher) based on the difference between the orientations?

I'm not interested in answers that say "it's just a subjective personal style choice" but am interested in answers that detail at least some difference in what may be perceived or communicated differently as a result of a change in orientation.

If there are strong field-specific conventions, those would be good to know (because being the only person who fails to follow that structure might give an impression that this person is an outsider or doesn't understand the community) but it'd be nice to have at least some answers that can apply in a very broad multidisciplinary poster session which is too topically diverse for any field-specific orientation convention to apply.

For the purposes of answering here, please assume the two dimensions are fixed at a bit under 3 and 4 feet, but orientation is not fixed.


1 Answer 1

I don't see any statistical evidence cited, so make your own stats: create two posters with same copy, font/size, and image; one portrait and one landscape, and hang them vertically side by side.

Ask 25+ people which version they prefer, note their gender and age and height. Don't allow discussion betweeen viewers. (EG dominant people may prefer one version and influence/skew the others)

Then switch the L-R order of the posters and ask another 25 people. See if the change of L-R orientation changes preferences. (Theatre folks know that a character entering from stage right (audience left) is strong and smooth; and entering from the other side is clashing, because (in the West) we are used to reading left to right. When people look at any scene, even a full dinner plate, most sweep eyes left to right (tho' I wonder about southpaws)

Put distance marks on the floor: See if one poster draws viewers physically closer. The landscape should be spaced mid-point with the portrait version's mid-point, mid-points at 58" from the floor. (paintings are oft hung too high).

Finally, invite subject to add their comments. EG, "this one feels harder to read" "this one feels fake" "the colour is warmer in this one" "this one is too harsh" etc etc.

Perhaps the only significant factor is that horizontal posters are much rarer. ====== === I invite statisticians, pyschologists and other smarty pants to improve on this experiment. This might rock at a science fair: every visitor casts their vote before reading the test results. Let me know how it goes! scripts at dennishassell * commmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.