Make a Poster

1. General

  • We recommend you use PowerPoint (.pptx) to create your posters.
  • We developed a template for posters (LastnameF.pptx) that you may use as a starting point to ensure proper size requirement. After downloading the file, save it as .pptx file with the following file name using your last name and the first letter of your first name, e.g., StuteM_poster.pptx.
  • The size of the poster should be 42″ wide x 42″ tall (already set up in template).
  • Be creative with your design, but we suggest you include less text (< 50% of space), and more graphs, charts, and images.
  • Save your poster as .pptx and .pdf file and post your files on CourseWorks.

If your poster will be presented virtually:

  • If presenting virtually, saving as .pdf file and use a software program like Preview on Mac or Adobe Acrobat Reader to zoom in on different portions of your poster as you explain it during the poster session (PowerPoint might also allow you to zoom while in presenter mode, but confirm if your version allows for this). We recommend you practice this to be familiar with the controls. 
  • We recommend you follow the formatting guidelines as if the poster will be printed, even if you are presenting your poster virtually (your poster may be printed in the future).

If your poster will be printed:

  • The template is especially helpful if printing on the BC Env. Sci. Department’s HP poster printer. 
  • Leave one inch on either edge of the poster to ensure proper border space for printing.
  • If printing, use color sparingly because cartridges are expensive (no background color or image, for example).
  • If printing, you will be told to either sign up for a 20-minute poster printing session online (Google calendar) or staff will print it for you.
  • For your printing session, save your poster as .pptx and .pdf file, post your files on CourseWorks and bring a digital copy on a USB key to the printing session.
  • Please print only one copy on our printer, each poster costs about $20 for paper and cartridges plus our time to help you in the process. You may keep your poster after the poster session is completed. 
  • KEEP YOUR POSTER FILE SIZE SMALL. If you go over 10MB, you will increase your chances of running into jams, clogs, and errors during printing. Too large files often are related to images that were imported at much too high resolution. See “Images” section below for more details.
  • Feel free to print your poster elsewhere, but you will need to cover the costs.
  • More details on printing in the “Printing” section below.

2. Text

  • The structure follows a structure very similar to that of your thesis, it has an abstract, introduction, methods, results, and discussion, recommendations, and reference section.
  • Do not overwhelm the reader with text. The main points should come through clearly, but nobody will spend 30 minutes in front of your poster reading small type text.
  • Include at most a few key references (< 5).

3. Fonts

  • Recommended font: Arial (or Geneva, or Calibri) because it is a sans-serif font (no curly or thin bits to the letters) and is easiest to read.
  • Suggested font sizes:
    • Title:  54 point bold
    • Student researcher with affiliation:  48 point
    • Reserach mentor(s):  48 point
    • Seminar adviser:  48 point
    • Section headings:  color of your choice, 28 point
    • Text:  black, 24 point
    • Figure and table captions:  black, 20 point
    • References:  black, 20 point

4. Images, graphs, and tables

  • In comparison with your thesis, the same or more space on the poster should be taken up by images or graphs than by text, a good rule of thumb is 50/50.
  • Include captions.
  • Refer to your figures/table by number in the text.
  • Review the guidelines we provide on how to Create Good Graphs and Captions.


  • Your images should have a resolution of 200 dpi (dots per inch) at the size they will be ultimately printed on your poster.
  • A 10-inch x 10-inch photo does not have to have more than (10×200 dpi) 2 = 4 megapixels
  • Save images/figures as either JPEG (or JPG), GIF, or PNG files.
  • In PowerPoint, go to the Insert, then Picture, then From file menu, and find your image. Of course, you can change the size by dragging on the corners once the image is placed on the slide. By using the handles on the corners of the image, the software will make sure that the increase or decrease in size is proportional. You can also use the Format a Picture option in PowerPoint to change the size and position of your image.


  • When importing graphs from Excel or other software, copy the graph then go to the Edit menu, Paste special, as Picture (Enhanced Metafile).
  • Note: a simple drag & drop of figures on a Mac might cause issues if the file is later opened on a PC (which is done for printing purposes). Saving as a .pdf at the end can be a way to ensure these compatibility issues are not a problem.


  • If you do use a table on your poster, it should be very compact. 
  • Use a table only if it would support your story more efficiently than a graph.

5. Printing

Printing on regular letter paper

  • We recommend you print your poster on regular letter paper to proofread it.
  • Go to the Print option in your File menu. In the pop-up window, select the Scale to fit paper box, and set the paper size to 11×14 in (or 8.5×11 in).
  • The font sizes are right if you can still read the text (on 11×14 in paper).

HP DesignJet 500ps Poster Printing Instructions (from Mac, 401 Altschul Hall)

If printing yourself during a scheduled poster printing session (see “General” above), put your file into the desktop folder “20xx Senior Posters”

If you saved your file as PDF:

  1. Open the folder with your file in it and put the mouse over it
  2. Place two fingers on the trackpad and click
  3. Open file in Preview
  4. Choose <Select> from the options at the top of the window
  5. Outline the poster so the margins are tight, but leave a little bit of white space all around
  6. Choose <Tools> from the toolbar
  7. Choose <Crop>
  8. Choose <File> from the toolbar, and <Print>
  9. Under <Paper Size>, select <SR Posters>
  10. Page size should be 42 in x 42 in
  11. Printer Margins should be HP DesignJet 500PS
  12. At the bottom, choose <Scale each page to fit paper>
  13. Click <Print>

If you saved your file as Powerpoint/Keynote presentation

  1. Open the document
  2. Choose <File> from the toolbar
  3. Choose <Save As>
  4. Under <Format>, select <PDF>
  5. Click Save
  6. Check the pdf file by opening it in Adobe Acrobat
  7. Continue with the instructions above