Student Virtual Poster Competition Information


Evaluation & Judging


Suggestions for Presenters


Students are eligible for the competition for 12 months after the month of graduation, with current ESA student or student transition membership. 

Virtual poster submissions are for those unable to attend the Annual Meeting. If you are planning to attend the meeting in person, you are ineligible to submit a virtual poster. 

Evaluation & Judging

Students who present virtual posters in the Student Competition for the President's Prize will be evaluated in the following areas:

  • Scientific Content (60%)

    • Introduction and background with pertinent literature cited (5 points)
    • Title relevant to poster content (5 points)
      • Judges will score the title given on the virtual poster, not what is listed in the Program Book.
    • Abstract informative and well written, correlates with poster content, and printed on poster. (10 points)
    • Objectives or hypotheses clearly stated and concise (10 points)
    • Materials and methods (study design) clear, concise, and appropriate to the problem (10 points)
    • Results, analysis, and discussion are clear, concise, and accurate (10 points)
    • Significance of results to field of study clearly discussed (10 points)
  • Poster Display (40%)

    • Organization
      • Logical order, minimum redundancy (5 points)
      • Effective use of space; smooth transitions between sections (5 points)
    • Visual Aids
      • Legible with large fonts, color contrast, no conflicting backgrounds (10 points)
      • Text without grammatical errors; not excessively wordy (10 points)
      • Effective use of figures and/or tables, coordinated with and cited in text (10 points)

Each virtual poster display is judged independently by three judges selected by the ESA Section Presidents. In the event of a tie, the Student Competition Co-Chairs will confer with the judges to determine the winner.

A Sample Virtual Poster Evaluation Form is available for reference. 


Students compete only against the students in their virtual poster session and not against other students in the same topic area who were assigned to other sessions. The size of each session is dependent on the initial number of virtual posters submitted to each topic area.

For poster dimensions and instructions, please visit the Annual Meeting Presenter Information page.

Suggestions for Virtual Posters

Virtual poster design can significantly enhance or severely diminish the effectiveness of your presentation. The following guidelines are general considerations:

  • Focus of attention: The focus of attention must be on the subject content. If the design overshadows the subject matter, the message is likely to be lost. 
  • Size and selection of visuals: Larger visuals attract more attention. Visuals not relevant to the content will distract the viewer. 
  • Density of visuals and text (labels): Too many visuals (pictures) and text (labels) in a small space decreases reader's attention, because each object is in competition with the others. Minimize these to prevent stimulus overload! Generally, a maximum length of 50-75 words per label results in a higher probability of people reading it. 
  • Ability to read text: Letters should be large so that they can easily be read from 2-3 feet away. Letters should be easily read (avoid Old English and other "fancy" fonts)
  • Poster layout:
    • Use a consistent layout with heading and subheading font and size standardized;
    • Use bulleted lists to facilitate reading;
    • Relate the content of the text to the picture it describes;
    • Reduce competing stimuli - Avoid placing a large number of labels and visuals next to one another; and
    • Provide good contrast between the text and background (avoid white on white, blue on navy, etc.).
Preparing Your Poster Presentation

Heading: A full title and name(s) of author(s) should be given at the top of your display. These should be the same as that printed in the program, and the font size for these should be legible from 3-6 feet (1-2 meters).

Legibility and Visual Impact: Viewers will usually stand 3-6 feet (1-2 meters) from your display. Text, captions and figure legends should be at least 18-point, but 24-point is better. Graphs and tabular data should be at least 24-point. Use a font that is easy to read, such as Arial. Very selective highlighting of your major points in high contrasting colors or bold print can improve your presentation. Please avoid using red and green hues on the same figure, because 8% of men and 0.4% of women have some red/green impairment. 

Simplicity: To encourage viewers to read your poster, make your display easy for the viewer to understand. Avoid excessive detail in the text or complex graphs and tables with excessive numbers. An effective display is a series of brief statements and supporting illustrations that tell a story. The flow of your story should be clearly indicated with distinct columns, letters, numbers, or arrows. Remember, posters are not manuscripts. Limit text to the essentials. If detailed explanation is required, prepare a handout of this information and have copies available in an envelope attached to the bottom of the poster board. Also, the poster should be self-explanatory. Viewers must be able to follow and understand your display when you are not present.

Note: Abstracts may be edited online through Friday, October 18, 2019. To access your abstract, use your personalized link for Speaker's Corner. 

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