How fast can I get my poster? Our order form will give you an up-to-date estimate, taking into account any backlog of orders or us leaving town. In general, we can turn around PDF orders the next day, and PowerPoint orders in two days. If you're ordering by mail, from there you're at the mercy of FedEx or UPS. In any case, you'll be happier if you leave yourself a few extra days when printing a poster, just in case there's some problem with the file you submit or an unexpected shipping delay.
When should I submit my poster to get it by ____? Well, sooner is always better. It depends a little bit on how many people are in the queue in front of you, but in general we can turn around PDF orders the next day, and PowerPoint orders in two days. Please see our order form for an up-to-date estimate of availability. We can't promise you availability by any specific date until you actually submit an order.
Where on campus do I pick up my poster? You will be emailed detailed instructions on how to pick up your poster when it is complete. Remember you're entering a store, library, or lab that is kindly hosting our poster pick-up; please be considerate of others when you go to pick up your poster.
What if I want a non-standard size? We're happy to print other sizes; the cost will be the same as the nearest standard size. Note that our paper is always 42" (3.5 feet) wide; we cannot make posters that exceed 42" in both dimensions. We can print portrait or landscape orientation, so your poster can be long or tall, but not both. (Keep in mind that people are only so tall. Research posters taller than about 48" require stepstools and/or squatting to actually read.) To keep your price low, we leave trimming the printed poster to you. For larger posters and custom jobs, please contact us directly.
What forms of payment do you accept? We accept all major credit cards (which includes most lab purchasing cards). We also accepts checks and PayPal accounts via PayPal. Regrettably, we cannot accept any form of payment in person when you come to pick up posters; all payments must be made through our web order system. We also cannot accept university purchase orders at this time.
How can I get a sales tax exemption? Many of our customers are at tax-exempt institutions. However, state laws do require us to verify the tax exempt status by examining the appropriate documents. We have a two step system:
Is there a multi-poster discount? Yes -- you can submit up to three posters as one order, thereby saving on shipping charges.
Do you laminate / mount posters? Sorry, not at this time. To bring you the lowest possible price, we're focusing on the core of our business. Of course, you could grab some foamboard and spray adhesive from your local craft store...
Will you print a big photograph for me? Sure, we'd be glad to. Submit a high-resolution JPEG or PNG via our normal upload page, and choose a paper size large enough to fit your desired print size (see previous question). Of course, we can only print photographs that you own the rights to, which generally excludes professional portraits and the like unless you get a release from the photographer.
I want something besides a photo or research poster. Can you do it? We'd be happy to discuss other custom printing jobs with you. Just drop us an email.
What are the margins on the finished posters? Posters margins are approximately 1/4" on each side, which will result in a white border if your poster features a colored background. Otherwise, you can design for the full paper size and we will ensure your poster is scaled to fit entirely in the imageable area.
What resolution can the printer produce? Our printer produces a resolution of 2400 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi). However, providing digital images at resolutions above 300 dpi will not improve output quality.
What sort of paper do you use? Can I get fabric instead? We currently use a heavyweight photo-quality semi-gloss paper from HP. After evaluating many different papers, we determined that semi-gloss gives the same rich, vibrant colors as high gloss paper, but it doesn't show fingerprints and it doesn't create glare. We also offer foldable satin fabric at an additional cost, which can make air travel easier and allow you to pack the poster in your suitcase.
Do you offer proofs before printing? You have two options for proofs: digital and hard copy. For all PowerPoint files, we will gladly provide "digital proofs" as PDF files with embedded color profiles. Please allow an extra 1-2 days overall turnaround time for your order in this case. You can use these proofs to check spelling, layout, graphics, and special characters (PowerPoint is famous for mangling Greek letters). You can also use it to check color reproduction, assuming you view it on a properly calibrated monitor. High-end monitors (like Apple's Cinema Displays) generally give pretty accurate color reproduction out of the box, but typical consumer grade monitors may not. See the next question for more about color.
If you need a physical printed proof, simply order the poster on a smaller paper size first. We'll take care of scaling down the poster image so it fits the size you request. For example, a 24" proof would cost only $24.95 (plus S&H); this is a very economical way to see exactly what the final output will look like. Please remember this will add several days to the overall turnaround time, so plan accordingly.
How long will my poster last? HP rates our paper/ink combination for more than a hundred years of life when displayed indoors under glass. From experience, we know that our posters show no changes at all after being displayed indoors for 6+ months.
Prior to September 2008, the air in certain research buildings would cause our posters to fade rapidly over a period of weeks or months. However, all locations have since upgraded to a new ink technology. Our own extensive tests have confirmed that new posters show no changes after 6 months or more, even in the nastiest lab air. Like all prints, however, our posters may eventually fade if displayed in direct sunlight. Remember, we work hard to keep prices low, so that you can easily replace old, out-of-date posters with current results.
How can I make sure the colors come out right? The bottom line: don't worry too much about it. Your poster is going to come out looking great. But there are some things you may want to think about when designing it.
Computer monitors can display a broader gamut (range of colors) than any printing system can create. That's because monitors use additive Red-Green-Blue (RGB) color, rather than the subtractive Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-blacK (CMYK) process used for printing. You can avoid out-of-gamut colors by designing your poster in a CMYK color space to start with, although this requires a package like Adobe Illustrator rather than PowerPoint. You can also help to avoid color shifts by embedding ICC color profiles in your poster PDF, such as "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2" (for CMYK) or "sRGB" or "Adobe RGB" (for RGB).
If you don't want to worry about it, don't! In cases where your poster has out-of-gamut colors, we use a perceptual rendering intent that preserves the relationships of colors to one another. We also auto-calibrate our printers against the specific paper used to ensure accurate color reproduction. Although we don't achieve the excrutiatingly faithful color needed for advertising or catalog work, you'll be very pleased with the way your posters and/or photographs look.
Learn more from Wikipedia's entry for "color".