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Posters with PowerPoint

A guide to creating posters for conferences and meetings using PowerPoint

Getting Started

  1. Open a presentation in PowerPoint
  2. From the Layout pull-down menu choose Blank
  3. Click on the Design ribbon, then choose Page Setup
  4. Under Slides sized for: select Custom
  5. Set the width and height to the size you want. PowerPoint does not allow any dimension to be larger than 56", so if your final poster is larger than 56" in either dimension, you may have to set the size in proportion to the final size you want. For example, if you want a poster to be 3’x 6’, set the width to 36” and the height to 18”. When the poster is printed, you will then print it at 200%.
  6. Keep orientation of slide at Landscape unless you are composing a vertical poster.

Note: Be aware of the meeting requirements for the size of your poster. Conference planners often specify how big a poster should be or how much space they can allocate to you. It's easiest if you establish your desired poster size prior to adding text and graphics. It can be changed later, but it will most likely require you to readjust all your poster content.

You can easily change the background to include one or more colors. To create a slide with a single, solid background color:

  1. Click on the Design ribbon
  2. In the upper right-hand corner choose Format Background from the Background Styles pull-down button
  3. Choose Solid Fill
  4. From the paint can pull-down button, choose one of the Theme Colors, Standard Colors or More Colors
  5. Close the Format Background dialog box

To create a slide with a single gradient color or multiple colors:

  1. Click on the Design ribbon
  2. In the upper right-hand corner choose Format Background from the Background Styles pull-down button
  3. Choose Gradient Fill
  4. Click the Preset Colors pull-down button
  5. Select one of the preset color schemes
  6. If you are happy with the color scheme, click Apply to All

The colors of a gradient background are composed of stops. Each stop is a different color or different shade of the same color. Notice that you can add more stops or delete stops. To change the color scheme:

  1. Select the stop number that you want to change
  2. From the paint can pull-down button, choose one of the Theme Colors, Standard Colors or More Colors
  3. Repeat steps one and two to change the color of additional stops

There are several fill types to choose from including Linear, Radial, Rectangular, and Path. Use the Type pull-down menu to change the design of the slide.

  • The Linear fill type will display each stop as a line. Use the Direction pull-down button and Angle tool to modify this fill type.
  • The Radial fill type will display the color stops as a series of circles or arcs depending on the direction you choose.

Tips:

  • It's okay to use colored backgrounds for a scientific poster--just make sure they are not distracting
  • If you use a white background, try using colored textboxes or headers for contrast and visual interest

You can display a grid, guides, and ruler to help with the placement of your poster elements.

  1. Right-click on your blank slide and choose Ruler
  2. Right-click on your blank slide and choose Grid and Guides
  3. Check the following boxes:
    • Display grid on screen
    • Display drawing guides on screen
  4. You should now see a grid and two moveable guides (one vertical, one horizontal) on your slide
  5. To add a new guide, place your cursor on an existing guide, hold the Control key as you drag a new guide onto the slide