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Tips for Creating a Capstone Poster


Attacking the Text

Wondering how to get all that text into a small poster? Years of training lead us to bury our thinking in shapeless, “laundry list” sentences full of prepositional phrases, mindless led-ins, and passive verbs. Escape the “Official Style” that only makes you look older beyond your age.

The 3 YouTube videos below provide a visual version of Richard Lanham’s book “Revising Prose.” A former English professor at UCLA, Richard shows you examples of the “Official Style” and how to revise your prose for impact, shape, and critical thought.

The best part of these videos is watching how Lanham applies his Paramedic Method to revise poorly written sentences. You’ll learn about the “lard factor,” and how to revise your writing in a step-by-step process.

The Official Style, Written and Directed by Richard Lanham (in 3 YouTube videos)

Lecture 3a – (9:58 minutes)
Characterizes the “official style,” as bureaucratic, euphemistic, impersonal (no subject), passive (few active verbs), and noun-centric. Shows sentences written in the “official style.” Introduces the Paramedic Methods for revising prose (Rules 1 to 5). Uses rules to revise a couple of sentences. Learn about the “lard factor.”

Lecture 3b -- (7:09)
Provides examples of the shapeless, laundry list sentences. Introduces Rules 6 to 7 of the Paramedic Method. Uses rules to revise example sentences.

Lecture 3c -- (9:47)
Examines impact of “verbal diarrhea” and unvarying sentence length on readers. Revises several sentences from the same paper. Shows how wordy sentences hide poor thinking. Don’t hide the ball from yourself. Encourages writing in a human voice.

Taming the Graphics

Now that you have a handle on your prose, let’s take a look at how to arrange the text on the poster and add supporting images to engage and educate your viewer.

Here are several sites that provide an overview of principles of good poster design.

Poster Presentation of Research Work from Newcastle University's School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials
This site breaks down good poster design into 13 pearls that are direct and easy to follow.

Tips for Posters in the Humanities from Stanford
This brief section touches on some ideas for posters in the humanities.

Creating Effective Poster Presentations :: An Effective Poster this site was created by authors from three universities and is a comprehensive look at poster design and creation.

Designing Conference Posters by Colin Purrington
This is an blog entry that has many good examples. The writier has fun with describing good and bad layout and has some creative ideas thrown in also.

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