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How to Prepare Your Poster

When preparing your poster, you have a couple options. The most common route is to make a giant slide in PowerPoint. For more control, you can use programs like Adobe Illustrator to create a PDF file directly.

Even if you design your poster using PowerPoint, we recommend making a PDF of it to submit for printing. Your poster will arrive faster and avoid PowerPoint printing errors. Click here for detailed, step-by-step instructions on converting PowerPoint to PDF.

PowerPoint Slides Are Easy

You probably already know the software, and you can quickly recycle the charts and graphics you've already created. Software like Apple's Keynote and the free OpenOffice can also produce PowerPoint files. Because PowerPoint limits the maximum size of your slides, we recommend making half-size slides:

Actual poster sizePowerPoint slide size (File | Page Setup)
36" x 42"18" x 21"
48" x 42"24" x 21"
60" x 42"30" x 21"
72" x 42"36" x 21"
84" x 42"42" x 21"
96" x 42"48" x 21"
36" x 36"18" x 18"
48" x 36"24" x 18"
60" x 36"30" x 18"
72" x 36"36" x 18"
84" x 36"42" x 18"
96" x 36"48" x 18"

Use our PowerPoint templates to get started easily! We have pre-configured templates for all common poster sizes.

Please do not embed Word documents, Excel charts & tables, or Visio drawings into your PowerPoint. These objects look OK on the computer screen, but they usually don't print correctly. Instead, convert them to images (JPEGs, TIFFs, EPS, etc.) before adding them to your slide:

The only other trick is to make sure your graphics are embedded rather than linked; linked graphics will be missing when we try to print your poster. Just uncheck the "Link to file" box when using the Insert | Picture | From File menu. (Copy-and-pasted pictures are always embedded.)

PowerPoint files often do not look the same on all computers. To ensure fast and accurate printing, we suggest (but certainly don't require!) that you convert the final PowerPoint slide to a PDF before submitting it. You'll get your poster faster too. We've got detailed, step-by-step instructions for both Windows and Macintosh computers.

PDFs Give More Control

If you prefer an industrial-strength graphic design program like Adobe Illustrator, you're in luck. Just create a document that matches the printed size of your poster, and save it as a PDF. Almost all design programs support the PDF format.

For the rest, PCs with the full version of Adobe Acrobat (free trial) and all Macs can "Print to PDF", allowing you to create PDFs from any program you like. (See our detailed tips and instructions for using print-to-PDF with PowerPoint slides.)

Keep these points in mind for the best possible quality:

Make it Look Good

There are a couple simple things you can do to make your poster look its best. In addition to the specific tips given above, we have these suggestions:

Getting Professional Help

We're all about doing it yourself, but sometimes you just need help. There are many firms offering design services on the Web, but allow us to suggest: