How to Make a Poster Using PowerPoint

(adapted from the VisLab website:


Step by Step:

1. Start PowerPoint: Make a New presentation – a blank one. When asked for a Layout, choose a blank one – one without anything – even a title.

2. Choose the size of your poster: I recommend that you select a poster approximately 48-60" wide (across) and exactly 36" in height (top to bottom). This applies for your individual poster even though you will print it out much smaller than this for grading purposes; doing this will allow you to have the flexibility to print your file as a large poster if your group chooses it. While HP-3000 printers can print up to 52.5 x several hundred inches, and Power Point limits you to up to 56 by 56, most printers on campus (eg: OUGL or Mary Gates) have a 36" limit.

Note for PowerPoint Poster Gurus Only: The PowerPoint limitation can be overcome with scaling – set your slide up at half size and use scale to 200% when printing. Set the size by using the File menu/Page Setup. If rulers are not visible, you might want to enable them – use the View menu/Rulers.

3. Adding text: In order to add text, the text needs a "container" – a Text Box. Make a text box by

a.Click on the Text Box tool or selecting Text Box under the Insert menu. (PowerPoint is very flexible in how its tools are arranged. The down side of that is that your tools may be in a different place than they are described here. The Text Box tool is often found near the bottom center – it looks like a mini page with an "A" in the upper-left part of it.)

b.Click or click-and-drag where you want the text to be. After this second step, you should see the rectangular shape of the Text Box. You can re-size it at any time by dragging one of the little square "handles". The box will also grow automatically as you type (if it needs to).

As in many programs, you can change the font and size by highlighting the text to be changed and then making the changes. A 100-point font is about an inch high. If you don't see the size you want in the selection list, you can enter it in by hand.

To move a Text Box, position your pointer over a part of the edge of the box that is not a handle. The pointer should become shaped like a plus sign with arrows. Click and drag the Text Box to the wanted position.

You can change the color of the text, the edge, and the fill as well as other things under the Format menu/Text Box.

Make a separate Text Box for each separate piece of text. "Separate text" means a portion of text that you want to be able to move independently from the others.

  1. Adding images: The two ways to add images are with Insert/Picture and with Copy and Paste:

Insert/Picture: This is the most common way of adding graphics to a PowerPoint document. If you have a file that is in one of several standard graphic formats (like JPEG, GIF, PICT, etc.), use the Insert menu/Picture/From-file and select your file. The image will appear on your document with handles. Use one of the corner handles to re-size it. (The corner handles will keep the same aspect ratio; the side handles will not.) Click and drag in the middle of the graphic to move it. You can do many other things to an image (including brightness, cropping, and resetting it to how it was originally brought in) under Format/Picture.

Image size: You need to plan ahead – in the package that created the graphic (or in program like PhotoShop) figure out the final print size of your graphic and scale it to about 200 dpi (dots per inch). The HP-3000 prints at 600 dpi, but the dithering it needs to do for most colors (all except the seven colors RGB and CMYK) takes up space – anything over 200 dpi is ignored for most colors. 150 dpi or even 100 dpi will look fine for most images.

Copy and Paste: Use this if you have something like an Excel graph you want to add to your document. Generally avoid this method if you can – Copy and Paste will often only give you a low-resolution copy of a graphic.

  1. Background: You can select a background under the Format menu/Background. If you want a picture background, select “Background” off the Format menu, then click on the down arrow for more options.  Select “fill effects” and then the tab for “picture”.  Click on “select picture” and find the picture you want from your hard drive.  You will probably want to fade or lighten the image prior to using it as background or you may risk the picture competing with your text. 
  2. Lines, Boxes, Arrows: There are many other things that PowerPoint can do. Next to the Text Box tool are tools to make ovals, boxes, lines, arrows, etc. When you have made one of these, you can change it (when it is selected) with the Format menu/Colors and Lines.
  3. Zoom: You can control the zoom amount by clicking on the zoom choice box (if visible), or using the View menu/Zoom.
  4. Printing.

If you are printing your individual poster for grading purposes only (not for display), then the following instructions apply to you: Chose "File" then "Print". Select all to print (default setting), but SELECT the box that says "scale to fit". You will end up with a small poster (8.5" X 11" or 8.5" x 14" if you use legal paper). To get maximum benefit from the use of color you should use a color printer, although a black & white printer will also show some gray variations that demonstrate where color is used in the document.

If you want to print a DISPLAY poster see below....

                        Where to go to print DISPLAY-SIZE posters on campus:

T271 Health Sciences Building (Health Sciences Academic Services & Facilities 206-543-9275). ­  up to 54" wide by 100' long on Hewlett Packard

DesignJet 3500 and 5000 CP Printers.

Costs for Standard Papers at HSAS&F (check for current prices and information at or

 Size           Economy Bond   Semi-Gloss or Matte   High-Gloss

16x20           $14.00              16.00                             17.00

20x24            17.00              20.00                              21.00

24x36            24.00              28.00                              35.00

32x40            30.00              35.00                              43.00

40x60            42.00              54.00                              60.00


Commons at OUGL (36" Wide, unlimited length - $1.00 set up and $0.25 per inch of length). Keep in mind that we are using the length as "our width" and vice versa.



Mary Gates Hall CRC (36” Wide) Plotter $1.00 setup fee, $0.50 per inch.  See for updates.


You can print off campus (i.e. Kinko’s) but they are expensive ($100-$120) since they are trying to make a profit while the university is just trying to cover costs. NOT RECOMMENDED.