• Most conferences and poster sessions provide a display area of 4 feet by 8 feet, but you do not need to create a poster that is 4 feet by 8 feet. You only have to create a poster that will fit within the display area.

  • Utilize white space (or blank space) to keep your poster professional and clean. Do not fill every square inch with text, images, and graphs. A balance of white space and content will prevent your poster from looking chaotic and cluttered.

  • Brevity is key! Opt for lists, images, graphs, and charts instead of thick paragraphs whenever possible.

  • Consider using QR codes to link to supplemental materials. QR codes are square barcodes viewers can scan with their smartphones to find your contact information, a link to a webpage, or even an educational video. You can find free apps online to create QR codes.

Using Guides and Gridlines for Poster Layout

Guides and gridlines are non-printing horizontal and/or vertical lines that allow you to align your content when laying out your poster. The guides snap content into alignment, and the gridlines allow you to manually line up content.

All our PowerPoint poster templates come with a guide on the left and right side of each column of text.

To use the guides or gridlines on a PC or Mac:

  1. Open PowerPoint, and select View from the top menu.
  2. If a dialog box opens, select Gridlines and Guides; if the View menu appears in the toolbar at the top of the page, check the box for Guides or Gridlines.
  3. The guides or gridlines will appear on the slide, and you may align your content. These lines will NOT appear when printed.

To move a guide, simply click and drag it. As you do so, the cursor will display inches from the ruler so you always know exactly where the guide is.

To create more guides, hold down the Control key and then click and drag on a guide.

-Note: In PowerPoint 2003, you are limited to 8 horizontal guides and 8 vertical guides.


Design Tips

  • Pick a background that makes your poster easy to read; consider using a solid, light color background with dark text. If a color combination is difficult to read on your screen, like a bright blue background with red text, then it will be difficult to read on the printed poster.

  • Avoid using specialty colors because they will not reproduce exactly the same on the printed poster.

  • Using WordArt, semitransparent fills, and textured backgrounds can be unpredictable when printed. Use these features at your own risk!

  • Use mixed upper case for titles (This is Mixed Case) and sentence case text for body text (This is sentence case). All caps (THIS IS ALL CAPS) can be difficult to read, so use sparingly.

Reviewing the Poster

Edit and revise your final poster at least twice before submitting to the poster center. Use the following as a final check list:

  1. Slide size: Double check the conference or poster session sizing guidelines, and check your slide’s sizing (visit Page Setup for directions).

  2. Spacing Issues: Look for overlapping images or text boxes, content hanging off slide, and more.

    - PRO TIP: Make sure your poster content is NOT close to the edge of the slide. Adjust content so there is a .25" margin of blank space. Content near the edge of the slide may be cut off on printing.

  3. Alignment: Straighten columns of text boxes and images, level rows of title boxes, center content on slide, and more using the guides or gridlines.

  4. Images and graphics: Zoom in to 100% and check for blurry graphics, graphics without labels, or missing details. If images are blurry at 100% they will appear blurry on the poster.

  5. Font inconsistencies: Zoom in to 100% and scan conten for differences in font style, font size, font colors, and other inconsistencies. You may not notice these errors zoomed out!

  6. Spelling and grammar errors: Read text zoomed in at 100% and look for spelling errors, grammar mistakes, missing punctuation, and more.