How to design a poster

01/ Slide setup

  • Your poster will be created on ONE slide in PowerPoint.

  • The page size of that slide must be your desired print size. You must do this step before you create your poster. Your print quality will be substandard if you design your poster and then change the size.

  • To prevent cropping when printing, be sure you have a 1 inch margin around the edges of the poster.​

02/To Set the Slide Dimensions

  • For PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010 for Windows:
    Select the Design tab, then Page Setup. Select Custom from the “Slides sized for” dropdown, enter desired size in inches.

  • For PowerPoint 2008 for Mac:
    Select File, then Page Setup. Select Custom from the “Slides sized for” dropdown, enter desired size in inches.

  • For PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:
    Select the Themes tab, then Page Setup. Select Custom from the “Slides sized for” dropdown, enter desired size in inches.​

03/ Slide design tips

  • Your poster should read from top left to bottom right, like you are reading a page.

  • It’s important to maintain a good contrast between the background color and the text color. Consider using a light color background and dark text.

  • A gradient color fill in the background, especially black, will print poorly. It will have very thin visible lines that you will not see on your computer monitor.

  • The colors that you see on your computer monitor will not reproduce exactly the same on a printed poster, as monitor color settings vary. You can expect that there will be a color shift of 2 or 3 shades.

04/ Graphics

  • Images copied from the web are low resolution (72 dpi) images and are not proper quality for inclusion in your poster.

  • Limit image resolution to 150 dpi to ensure their ability to print.

  • All graphics should be pictures (e.g. .tif, .gif for transparency, .jpg for non-transparent images) inserted directly into PowerPoint (NOT linked from another program). The preferred image format for all inserted images is JPEG if you do not need a transparent background.

  • If you have graphs or charts from Excel to include in your poster, simply copy in Excel and paste into PowerPoint.

  • Do not enlarge images after they have been inserted into PowerPoint.

  • To adjust an image and retain proportion, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click and drag with your mouse on one of the corners in order to scale it.

Credit to Sally Beer for creating these guidelines

05/ Text

  • It is best to use a font that is cross-platform to ensure that your poster looks as you have designed it. The fonts suggested here are all cross-platform and should be found on most systems. If you use a downloaded font that is specific to one environment (i.e. only Mac or only Windows), you must embed that font in your PDF.

  • The title should be approximately the entire width of the poster with the main text broken into multiple columns, usually three or four depending on the size of the poster. You may also want to use section headings within the columns at the start of each section. (The available template is designed in this fashion.)

  • Sans-serif fonts are the best for posters, particularly for the title, subtitle, and headers.

  • The most common fonts are Times New Roman and Arial. Other fonts include Arial Black, Franklin Gothic Heavy, Tahoma, Trebuchet, Verdana, Garamond, Book Antiqua, or Bookman Old Style, just to name a few. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few examples.

  • You will have to adjust the font size depending on the amount of text in your poster and the style of font you choose. For readability, you should not use a font size any smaller than 18 points.

  • For consistency, it would be best to make all the headers the same size and use the same font size throughout the poster for all body text.

  • If your text is in a different file (e.g. in a Word document) be sure that it pastes into a text box in PowerPoint so it can be more easily edited. To do this, use the Paste Special command and choose Unformatted Text so that the text will become a PowerPoint text box. If you just copy and paste, your text will be an imported word processing object, which will not be as easy to edit in PowerPoint

06/ PDF

University Printing needs a PDF file set to your custom page size for proper printing.

For Power Point 2007 for Windows:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office button, point to the arrow next to Save As, and then click PDF or XPS.

  2. In the File name list, type or select a name for the presentation.

  3. In the Save as type list, click PDF.

  4. If you want to open the file immediately after saving it, select the Open file after publishing check box. This check box is only available if you have a PDF reader installed on your computer.

  5. Next to Optimize for click Standard (publishing online and printing).

  6. Click Save.

For PowerPoint 2010 for Windows:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click Save as.

  3. In the File Name box, enter a name for the file, if you haven’t already.

  4. In the Save as type box, click PDF (*.pdf).

  5. Click Standard (publishing online and printing).

  6. Click Save.

For Word 2008 for Mac:

  1. Select File, then Page Setup.

  2. Your custom size is already set, do not change anything about the custom size.

  3. Click on the Options button within the Page Setup window.

  4. Select the Manage Custom Sizes option.

  5. Click on the + (plus sign) to add a new poster size.

  6. Double click the “Untitled” poster name and type the dimensions of your poster in the form “width x height”.

  7. Enter your poster’s dimensions opposite of what they are in the custom page size.

  8. Press OK to close the Custom Page sizes window.

  9. Select the newly created paper size.

  10. Press OK. Press OK if you get an error about the page size exceeding the printable area.

  11. Select File, then Print. DO NOT “save as” PDF.

  12. In the bottom left corner of the Print window there is a PDF dropdown menu; choose Save as PDF.

  13. Save in desired location.

For PowerPoint 2011 for Mac:

  1. Select File, then Save As.

  2. Choose PDF from the Format dropdown.

  3. Save in desired location.