Make a Poster

 1. General

  • Use PowerPoint (ppt) to create your posters
  • We developed a template for posters (LastnameF.pptx) that you may use as a starting point for your poster and that should print easily  on the BC Env. Sci. Department’s HP poster printer. After downloading the file, save it as ppt 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.
  • Include less text (<50% of space), but more graphs, charts and images
  • Use color sparingly, because cartridges are expensive (no background color or image, for example)
  • Sign up for a 20 min poster printing session online (Google calendar)
  • Save your poster as .pptx and .pdf file.
  • For your printing session, post your files on courseworks and bring a copy on a USB key to the printing session.
  • You may keep your poster after the poster session is completed. 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.
  • KEEP YOUR POSTER FILE SIZE SMALL.    If you go over 10MB, you will increase your chances of running into jams, clogs and errors printing.   Image size is what will make a poster file too large to print. Too large files often are related to  images that were imported at much too high resolution.
  • Feel free to print your poster elsewhere, but you’ll be on your own.

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 30min  in front of your poster reading small type text.
  • Include at most a few key references (<5).
  • To include text in your poster, type in the provided text boxes or insert a text box in your poster using the Insert: Text Box option (or icon).
  • You can type in the text box directly or copy the text from a Word document and paste it into the text box you created.
  • Leave one inch on either edge of the poster.

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
  • 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.


  • Your images should have a resolution of 200dpi (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 (10x200dpi)2 = 4 mega pixels
  • Save them as either JPEG (or JPG), GIF, or PNG files.
  • In PPT 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 PPT 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) 
  • A simple drag & drop on a MAC might cause trouble if the file is opened on a PC


  • 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

  • You should print your poster on regular letter paper to proof read 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 11x14in (or 8.5x11in)
  • If you have good eyes, the font sizes are right if you can still read the text (on 11×14 paper)

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

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 track pad 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, put 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 by 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