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Creating Scholarly Posters in PowerPoint: Making the Poster

PowerPoint Functions More Fully Explained

Advice on Images that Don't Print Well

If an image does not print well, what remediation is possible?  Here's a tip from Colin Purrington about one way of dealing with that.

"If after printing your poster you notice that your photographs are not crisp when viewed close up, print higher resolution images onto fancy paper and tape onto your poster, covering over the nasty ones." 

Find more advice from Colin at his poster site Designing conference posters.

The Steps for Making a Poster

Create the Various Components of the Poster

1)  Create the text in Word


It is easy to see and edit what you have.  You can also easily get word count information to see if you need to adjust.   

Copy & paste works well in PowerPoint.

You need a Heading and text for each of the 7 sections:

Title & authors, Introduction, Methods & Materials, Results, Conclusions, Acnowledgements, and References.

Vigorously edit the text -- leaving only the most essential information.  Triple check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

2)  Create charts and graphs in Excel

Your data is mostly likely in a spreadsheet already and the chart or graph is easily copied to PowerPoint.

3)  Create or modify images in a graphics program

Powerpoint has some image modification tools but programs like Photoshop or (free) have more tools.

4)  Check the poster rules and requirements with the sponsoring agency

Look for specifics about poster dimensions (what is the maximum width and height) and citation styles.

5)  Check out other posters and templates to gather design ideas.


Now you are ready to start PowerPoint

6)  Go to PowerPoint and you'll work on the slide that initally comes up.

7)  Starting with a pre-designed template or creating your own?

If looking for a template, see suggested template resources to find one, or if you have one, then jump to these instructions.

Starting from scratch - the first step is to set up page size.

In PowerPoint, go to the Page Setup menu (under the Design tab) and change the size of the slide.  Everything will go on one slide.

-- Size considerations

56 inches is the widest and tallest that Powerpoint will go.

Printers can easily scale a poster to 200% of the size you set

If you want a 8' x 4' poster, set it up for half that size = 48" x 24".  

If you want a 5' x 3' poster, set it up for half that size = 30" x 18".

Some posters are more vertical & square than horizontal, in that case, it dimensions will be 24" x 36" or 36" x 36".

Start with the right size -- you do not want to have to adjust later!

8)  Delete the boxes on the PowerPoint slide so you have a blank slide to use.  We'll start just with getting the text in place then add style.

9)  Turn on both Ruler & Gridlines -- on the View tab, click in the box for each.

10)  Go back to MS Word and copy the text of your title.

11)  Back in PowerPoint, insert a text box and stretch it the width of your poster.  Paste the copied title text into the box.  It will probably come in about 80 pt font - which is what you want for a title.  Made sure the box is at the top of the poster.

12)  Do the same for the list of authors - except the font will need to change to about 60 pt font.

13)  Create a section heading - insert another text box and stretch it across just one column.  Type the name of the heading.

14)  Copy the first section in Word and insert a box in PowerPoint that stretches across just one column.  Paste the text.   It won't be pretty - everything will past at about 80 pt font.  That is okay.

Click on the box outline and then change the font to 32 pt font.

15)  Repeat steps 13 & 14 until all sections are created.

16)  Insert your charts, graphs, figures, and tables.

17)  Adjust:

Allign boxes within the columns with consistent spacing

Resize boxes, if needed

Move boxes to better fit all your elements

Leave plenty of white space -- don't crowd the poster and your images.

18)  Format and Style

Format menu -- add color, background, 

Insert shapes -- as background behind text or heading boxes to highlight content


Gathering Feedback

19)  Ask friends and family to review and suggest ways to improve the poster.

20)  Ask Karen for help.