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Posters with PowerPoint

A guide to creating posters for conferences and meetings using PowerPoint

Adding Content

Use text boxes to organize your wording. To insert a text box:

  1. From the Insert ribbon choose Text Box
  2. Place your cursor on the slide, hold down the left mouse key, drag a text box onto the slide, and let go of the left mouse key
  3. Type text into the box

You may want to separate your headings/titles from the bulleted text by creating multiple text boxes for each element; this makes formatting the text a little easier. The main thing is to determine the best size for your headings/titles and the bulleted text, and to be consistent with your text boxes

Highlight the textbox border and use the arrow keys to move your textbox around. Use CTRL + arrow key to move a textbox just a smidgeon.

Tips on text size and type: Text size can vary depending on the size and content of your poster.

  • Use "sans serif" (Helvetica, Arial) plain fonts for all text in the poster. It's easier to read from a distance.
  • Bold face is fine for title and headings, but not for the rest of the text.
  • Never use all caps--they are hard to read.  Some experts recommend sentence case (not title case) for your title
  • Left align your text in all of the text boxes in the body of the poster
  • Title of the poster should be the largest text on the poster: at least 50-56 point size, but consider going up to 100 point
  • Names of authors: at least 30 point
  • Headers: at least 32-36 point
  • Bulleted text: at least 20-26 point
  • Body text no smaller than 12 point
  • Figure captions can be smaller (10 point)

Note: These font sizes reflect that in this example we are asking the printer to enlarge the entire poster by 200%.  If you are NOT enlarging your poster, double all the above sizes.There are no hard and fast rules; just keep in mind the proportion of the elements in relation to each other.

Tips on text color:

  • Dark text on a light background is easier to read than light text on a dark background unless your font is large (like the title)
  • Use no more than 3 colors of text

You can insert any image onto your PowerPoint slide provided the image is saved on your hard drive, flash drive or shared drive. To insert an image:

  1. From the Insert ribbon choose Picture 
  2. Navigate to the file directly where the image is located, select the image file, and click Insert

You can then move the picture by dragging it or by selecting it, and using your arrow keys. Using the corner bullets to resize the picture will guarantee that the height and width will change in proportion to each other. When you select an image you will have a Format ribbon available to you which you can use to manipulate the image in dozens of ways.

Tip:  It's visually appealing to put a thin border of black or gray around your image for contrast and emphasis.

Image Resolution

You should ensure that your images are of sufficient quality to be printed. You should strive for resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch). Most web images are 72 dpi and when printed, will look blurry or jagged. Here are some general guidelines:

  • At least 150 dpi, strive for 300 dpi - higher resolution is good, but can sometimes be grainy
  • Save photos as jpg or png; line art (graphs & simple shapes) is best as png only
  • For printed images, it is best to scan and save them in .jpg format


You can insert dozens of different shapes, lines, diagrams, and other graphical elements on to your poster. To do this, start in the Insert ribbon and choose either Shapes or SmartArt to peruse the available options.

You can use the Insert function to insert an existing chart or create a new one, but it takes a few steps and can be difficult.

There is a much easier way to insert a chart into a PowerPoint slide/poster. If you have created a chart using Excel, all of the formatting functionality will work in PowerPoint.

  1. Open Excel and select a chart you have created from your Excel data (click on the chart to select it)
  2. Copy the chart
  3. Go to your PowerPoint slide/poster
  4. Paste the chart
  5. Resize it as necessary to fit
  6. Once a chart is inserted into PowerPoint, Chart Tools will become available from the menu ribbon
  7. Click on any element in a chart and then use the Design, Layout and Format tabs to modify that element


  • To better integrate your chart, you may wish to remove the graph lines and outline from the chart (unlike with images)
  • Keep your chart data simple and easy to read
  • Use .png format for charts and graphs if you have to paste them as images into your poster.  You will get better line resolution.