Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College
Instructional Technology Fellow
This presentation was adapted for undergraduates from the
Cornell Center for Materials Research. The original presentation
can be found online at www.ccmr.cornell.edu.
It also incorporates the work of fellow ITF John Sorrentino,
whose original work can be found online at
What is a poster?
• Think of a poster as an illustration of your abstract.
It is a short story that should:
• describe a few major points of your research
• catch a viewer’s attention
• rely on visual images, limited text, and the
motto that “less is better.”
Look at some examples:
• http://www.scientiﬁcposters.com/aao/ (click on “Titles
• Google “scientiﬁc poster”
You’ll See The
• Effective, simple visuals
or data displays
• Small blocks of
They Also Have
• A title (make sure to include
• Background or Introduction
• Results & Conclusions
• Sources or References
• Now that you “get the picture”, ﬁnd your abstract
and identify your thesis sentence. This should guide
the message of the poster.
• What are the best images for your research? Are they
graphs, charts, maps, or photos? Make sure you go
with a high resolution image, at least 150 dpi or
• What will be the clearest, most effective text to
support these images? Write this out and edit until
software and layout
• Are you more comfortable with Powerpoint, Keynote, or a
design software like Adobe Illustrator?
• Pick a layout orientation (vertical or horizontal) that best
suits your material.
• Consider a template. You can download one here:
• Make sure you know the correct dimensions: 36” x 48” or
• Make sure your title is readable. You’ll need to use
a large font and think BOLD.
• Make sure you include the author’s names.
• Make sure you leave a little room around your text
• Use plain or easy to read text. Make sure the font is
large enough to read.
• Left align your font.
• Use color, but don’t blind your viewer. Two or
three colors are good.
• Dark text on a lighter background is best.
• Go with a plain background.
Edit, Draft, Proofread
• Edit, edit, and edit the poster until you have a clear
message. Can you read the text? Are the colors
• Then, print out a small version. Give it to others to
• Take another look and make sure it’s ready to go to
• Can’t get Powerpoint or Keynote to obey your
every wish? Contact us. We’ll help you.
• Want to make a graph, chart, or map and can’t
make it happen? Again, we can help.
• Feel like you’re done, but worried about printing?
Make sure you have a consultation with Karen or
Jesse before printing.
• If you don’t know where to begin, click through to
the next few slides.
• They are taken from ITF John Sorrentino’s
scientiﬁc poster workshop (October 15, 2008) and
it will walk you through some Powerpoint basics.
Since the posters you are making will be several feet on a side and the screens you are working on are much smaller, you will
need to keep the zoom at 100% while working on details of the slides. Once you have the content set, you can go to View >
Zoom > Fit to see the entire poster and move the elements accordingly. You might ﬁnd that you have to switch often between
100% and Fit.
A. To begin a poster, make a new slide and set your desired dimensions in Page Setup. Make your slide 36”x48” (or 48”x36”)
1. Open PowerPoint, select Blank Documents, and then PowerPoint Presentation; then select Blank.
2. In the top menu click on View and then Slide. (Normal view is unnecessary because the poster consists of a single slide.)
3. Go File > Page Setup…, then enter the width and height of the poster in inches. You will see an error message saying the
page is larger than the printable size—that is ﬁne, just click out of it.
B. The title, abstract, analysis, conclusions, and any other textual info can be made in a text box. The edges of the textbox can be
used to alter its size and shape and to drag it around on the page. The font should be large enough for people to read (around 48
pt.) and the text should be as concise as possible. You don’t want a lot of text.
To create a textbox:
1. Click on the A| button in the Object Palette on the left. You will see a textbox appear on the slide. Drag the textbox to
where you want to place the text.
2. In the Formatting Palette on the right set the font face, size, and alignment. It is best to use a simple font like Arial or
Times New Roman. The title and any headers should be centered, while paragraphs should be justiﬁed. The jagged right
edge of left-aligned paragraphs creates an uneven, visually displeasing effect.
3. Type or copy-paste the desired text into the textbox.
4. If copy-pasting from several documents with different fonts, use Edit > Paste Special… > Unformatted Text.
5. Be sure to insert a descriptive title in large font (around 80 pt.) at the top.
C. Insert images by going to Insert > Picture > From File… or by clicking on the Insert Picture button (a small pastel
landscape in a rectangle) in the lefthand Object Palette.
1. As a rule, edit and size all images with an image editing application before inserting them into the PowerPoint slide.
2. Since these images will be printed on very large posters, they must have a high resolution—at least 150 dpi but preferably
300 or 600 dpi.
3. In Photoshop (and most standard image editors), you can set the dimensions and resolution of the image by going to Image
> Image Size… and typing the desired values into the dialogue box that appears.
4. Save as a JPG ﬁle with the highest possible quality setting.
5. You can add borders to text boxes and images through the Format Picture dialogue, which is available in the Formatting
Palette on the right or the Format menu at the top.
6. Note: Images on the World Wide Web, since they do not normally have a resolution higher than 72 dpi, will not be
appropriate for your poster. Copyright is also an issue with most Web content. Use a digital camera or talk to your professor
about obtaining high quality images. If you don’t have a camera, one is available through the Advisor. Please speak with
Jaime Weiss for information on checking it out.
7. On your computers is a photo editing program called the Gimp. You can use this for advanced editing of images, or you can
use iPhoto for more simple editing. To repeat, your images should be no less than 150 dpi since it will be blown up
considerably. Anything less will end up looking pixelated.
D. Any lines, arrows, circles, or other drawn graphics should be done via PowerPoint, not in Photoshop or an image editing
To add arrows, lines, or circles to the images in your slide:
1. Use the Lines or AutoShapes tabs in the lefthand Object Palette to select what you want, the draw it on the image itself.
2. When the shape or line is selected on the slide, you can change the ﬁll, line color, line type, line weight, etc. in the
Formatting Palette on the right.
3. You can do the same by going to Format > AutoShape… or by ctrl-clicking on the shape and selecting Format
4. It is also very easy to use the Line Color and Line Style tabs in the lefthand Object Palette.
E. Visually arrange the objects in your poster by using the Guides view.
1. With the zoom set to Fit, go to View and select Guides.
2. You will now see the slide quartered by dotted lines according to which you can arrange your text and images.
3. If you drag the objects around the slide, in their movement they will automatically “snap” to a standard position
with respect to the guidelines.
4. When an object is selected, you can also use the arrow keys to nudge the object around.
5. Use the boxes on the border of the selected object to place it with respect to the guidelines and other objects in
6. In general it works best to place textboxes in the center of the slide with images around the periphery, close to the
text that refers to them.
7. Be sure to look at the sample posters links, they are intended to provide you with some ideas on layout and