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Creating Large Format Posters Using PowerPoint

Creating Large Format Posters Using PowerPoint

Design your own large format poster using PowerPoint.

Poster Size Setup

You will be making just one slide (or page) in PowerPoint. One really big slide! Using Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 or greater, click on the Design tab at the top and then “Page Setup.”

Under "Slides Sized for:" choose "Custom." In the Page Setup pop-up menu, set the page size to the same size that you want your poster to be.

 Page Setup

Warning!Be sure to verify the poster size requirements for the meeting where your poster will be displayed. Failure to do so may result in a poster that is not printable at the size you need. The page size needs to be set before you start your poster layout.

Here are some guidelines on determining the space you will need.

  • If your data is already in a PowerPoint presentation, you will need at least one square foot of poster space for each slide.
  • If you have many tables and graphs, you may need even more square feet.
  • If your data is already in a word processor format with standard 12 point font, you will need approximately 4 square feet of poster space for each page of text in the word processor file.
  • If you have many tables and graphs you may need even more square feet.

Creative Communications can print posters up to 60” wide by any length. However, PowerPoint has a maximum page size of 56.” Therefore, if you need a poster that is larger than 56”, set the page size in PowerPoint to exactly half of the finished poster size. We will enlarge it 200% when printing. For example, if the final poster size should be 36” x 72”, set up the file to 18” x 36” and instruct us to enlarge it by 200%. For example:

Finished Poster Size   Page Size in PPT   Enlargement when printed  
36" x 48" 36" x 48"  100%
36" x 56" 36" x 56" 100%
36" x 60" 18" x 30" 200%
36" x 72" 18" x 36" 200%
48" x 56" 48" x 56" 100%
48" x 60" 24" x 30"  200%
48" x 72" 24" x 36" 200%
48" x 84" 24" x 42" 200%
48" x 96" 24" x 48" 200%

Files can only be enlarged or shrunk proportionally, so be sure the aspect ratio of your page size in PowerPoint matches that of the final poster size.

Note: If you change the page size after creating the poster, it can create problems. Text may be hidden by inserted figures so proof the poster thoroughly. Do not allow text or pictures to hang over the edge of the poster or they will be cropped off when printed.

Note that inserted images will be scaled out of proportion because of the change in page size. To resize the images, right-click on the image and select “Size and Position.” Click on the “Size” tab, if not already selected, and make sure the scale percentage is the same for height and width. (e.g., 100% height and 100% width).

Scale Height & Width


Poster Layout and Font Sizes

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s brand and design standards call for using fonts in the Avenir family. If Avenir is not available, use the font Arial. The downloadable poster templates use Arial.

The title should stretch across the top of the poster, approximately 75% of the width. Many venues require that the text for your title be 1 inch tall (capital letter height). To do so, use 100-point Arial. If you are designing your poster at half size and the poster will be enlarged 200%, make your title 50 points. Do not make your title all capitalized. Use mixed case for your title. For example: Perioperative Care of Older Patients

The subtitle (author’s names and institution name) should be smaller than the title, from 48 to 80 points (or 24-40 points if designing your poster at half size), to keep the emphasis on the title.

Arrange the text of your poster into multiple columns. Use three columns for a 60 inch wide poster. Use four columns for a 84 inch wide poster. Use four or five columns for a 96 inch wide poster. Allow a minimum of 1 inch of space between each column, increasing the size to up to 2 inches for the largest posters. If designing at half size, adjust the column size accordingly, allowing 0.5” to 1” between columns.

For the body text, make the font size 24 to 48 points (12 to 24 points if designing your poster at half size). Use plain Arial font, not bold. Be sure to keep the body text font size the same throughout the entire poster. The only exception might be an abstract at the beginning or references at the end, which can be smaller.

Use section headings (Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions, etc.) within the columns at the start of each section. Make the font size about 50% larger than the body text and use Arial Bold.

Leave a minimum 1-inch margin around all sides of the poster (0.5 inch for poster designed at half size). To display the ruler, go to the View menu and select “Ruler.” Whenever possible, increase the edge margin to 1.5” to 2.”

If you have some additional space available, consider increasing the line and paragraph spacing. This can make your text more readable without increasing the font size.

Paragraph and Line Spacing 

Inserting Text

Paste SpecialYou can type anything you want into a text box or cut and paste from a word processor file into your PPT poster file. When cutting and pasting, it may be necessary to use the Paste Special command so that the text will take on the attributes in the PPT text box. To do that, copy the text you want from your file. Then switch to your PowerPoint file and put the cursor where you want the text to start. Click on the Home tab, then on the small arrow under the Paste button, select “Paste Special” and choose the “Unformatted Text” option.

Look over the pasted text carefully to make sure the font size is consistent with previously entered text and that formatting has carried over properly. Also watch out also for special symbols and for subscripts and superscripts that may no longer be formatted correctly.

Format Painter

An easy way to make all your text look the same is to use the Format Painter tool. This tool is located on the toolbar right next to cut, copy and paste, and looks like a paintbrush.

If you have some text in your poster that is already formatted correctly and you’ve just inserted some new text that looks different, here is how you use Format Painter to fix it.

Select a source object that has the formatting the way you want it. (The source can be text but it also could be an inserted photo or a drawn object.) Now click on the Format Painter button and your cursor will change into a paintbrush. Whatever object you click on next will take on the same attributes as your source object. 

Inserting Pictures

Click on the Insert tab at the top and then click on the “Picture” button. Use the Insert Picture dialogue box to navigate to where your picture files are stored. Click on the picture you want and then click on the “Insert” button.Resizing a logo

If you need to adjust the size of the picture, hold down the shift key on your keyboard, then click and drag with your mouse from one of the corners of the picture in order to scale it proportionally in height and width.

Do not enlarge pictures once they are inserted into PowerPoint or they may become fuzzy. Instead, obtain a higher resolution image.

Low resolution logo exampleImage quality: Pictures from web sites are low resolution (72 dpi) images. When used on a poster, they will appear fuzzy. The pictures need to be high resolution to keep them from appearing fuzzy. Images should be at least 150 dpi at 100% of the final size they appear on the poster. For example, a picture that will be 10” wide on the final poster should have 1500 pixels in the width. If your poster file is half size (e.g., 18” x 30” for a 36” x 60” poster), your image should be at least 300 dpi. Always save the image as a high quality JPEG file.

To see what an image will look like when printed full size on your poster, click on it and then zoom in to 100% to simulate how it will look on the final poster. (Zoom in to 200% if creating your poster half size.) If it appears fuzzy on your monitor, it will be fuzzy on your poster. 

Using Guides for Column Layout

Guides are non-printing, horizontal or vertical lines that your text, photos and other objects will snap to when laying out your poster. In each of our PowerPoint poster templates, we’ve placed a guide on the left and right side of each column of text. The text box can then be quickly sized to fill the column. This speeds up the placement of text and graphics within a column and keeps the columns straight.

Grid and GuidesTo see the guides, right-mouse click on a blank area of the poster off to the side and select “Grid and Guides.” At the bottom of the dialogue box, check “Display drawing guides on screen.” Click OK and the guides will appear.

To move a guide, simply click and drag it. As you do so, the cursor will display inches from the ruler so you always know exactly where the guide is. To create more guides, hold down the Control key and then click and drag on a guide.

Design Tips

For maximum readability incorporate the following design principles:

  • Maintain good contrast between the background color and the text color.
  • Use a light colored background with dark text.
  • Keep the background simple and subtle.
  • Avoid busy, distracting backgrounds that can make the text more difficult to read.

Do not use WordArt, semitransparent fills, or textured backgrounds, as the results can be unpredictable. Many features, such as reflection, soft drop shadows, rounded corners, 3D format and rotation, do not print as they appear on-screen.

Using Color

Color GridThe Wake Forest School of Medicine color palette is gold and black. If you download a poster template from us the brand approved color palette is in the top row of the grid of colors.

If additional colors are needed, select first from the color palettes on the Brand Center.

Note: The colors you see on your monitor will be close to your printed poster but may not reproduce exactly due to differences in monitors. Our poster printer is color calibrated and uses color management for consistent results. If color accuracy is critical, please request a sample printed on the poster printer.

The colors on the small proof print are only approximate and will differ from the colors you see on your monitor since the small proof print is created on a different kind of printer than the poster.

Additional Resources

For additional information regarding poster media options, proofing, poster tubes, pricing and turnaround times, please visit the Large Format Poster web page.

Get a jump start on your poster by downloading a brand standards approved PowerPoint poster template available in many sizes.

Submit your poster online for fastest service. Click on the link, "Send Files to Creative" located in the upper right of this web page. You will receive an email confirmation that your order was received.

If you need additional information please call us at 716-4298 or email us at  so we can help you!



Last Updated: 06-16-2017
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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