I’d like to thank Philipp for his question about designing posters. Some of you might be also interested in this hot topic so I’ll copy-paste my email reply to Philipp for you. Also, the kind folks at Washington State University are generously sharing a tutorial on the subject. You can download it by clicking on the gigantic PDF icon on the right as well.
Happy designing and here come the instructions:
Normally, you should have a balance between images and words on your poster. In other words, use the principle “a picture is worth a thousand words” from the famous Chinese proverb.
Your text should be clearly visible and easy to read from a distance. Strip everything down to the most effective possible content — the essence that conveys the maximum meaning based on your topic. Breaking the rules is also fine as long as you have a reason justified by your main objective, i.e., communicating meaning in a way that is visually accessible, aesthetically stimulating, and textually focused.
In this project you have the freedom to choose a tone of voice that matches the overall energy of your project. Think about the audience you are designing for. What would resonate with their outlook, interests, and sensitivities? Informal, academic, or a combination of those ingredients will be absolutely fine as long as you get your message across effectively. Making things fresh and entertaining along the way would be a definite plus as well.
Also, have a look at the student-produced posters in Research IV. You can learn a lot about the relationship between form and content and how to balance these elements in your designs.