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How Do I Create and Print an Academic Poster

A Guide for Students and Researchers preparing a poster for presentation at a conference

Subject Guide

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Seamus Carmichael
717 531-8627

George T. Harrell Health Sciences Library Circulation Desk

PowerPoint File

Make a Poster

You have done your research, crunched the data, and conducted the experiments to support your hypothesis, now you have to present at a conference or seminar. Your advisor tells you to make a poster. Here's what you need to do

Be aware that some links on this page may not be available unless you are inside the Hershey Campus Network

Assemble the visual elements of the research: charts, photographs, diagrams and data visualizations, write the abstract and explanatory text with your references and sources.

Design using PowerPoint

The Sign Shop offers PowerPoint templates in which you can organize the information into a visually appealing poster. University Libraries has information at 

Images should be at least 150 dpi for best quality printing. Among image formats, PNG format uses a transparent background., JPEG format is the preferred format from the point of view of our Sign Shop. Pictures should be inserted directly into the PowerPoint.

Do not enlarge images after they have been inserted into PowerPoint. To adjust an image and retain proper proportion, hold the shift key on your keyboard, click, and drag the corners to scale. Copy and paste charts from Excel directly into PowerPoint. 


The title should occupy most of the width of the poster, with the main text broken into multiple columns, usually three or four, depending on the size of the poster. Left, Right, Center, Justify settings arrange the text within columns. I find that "Justify" defines the edges of the columns visually. You may use section headings within the columns. Always have someone review your text for grammar and spelling.


Use a common cross-platform font, so that your poster looks the same on Mac or Windows. 

Sans-serif fonts work best for posters, particularly for titles, subtitles and headers. You may need to adjust the font size depending on the font and the amount of text on your poster. For readability, do not use a font smaller than 18 points.

Other design software options

Although the Sign Shop templates are all in PowerPoint format, you might be more comfortable working in Adobe's Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign or any of the open source alternatives like Inkscape, the Gimp or Scribus.

For consistency, make sure all the headers are the same size, and use the same font size throughout for all body text.

If your text is in a different file (e.g., in a Word document), make sure it pastes into a text box in PowerPoint so it can be edited.

Suggested Font Sizes by Section

Title 72-120 pt.

Subtitle: 48-80 pt.

Section headers: 36-72 pt.

Body text: 24-48 pt.

File Formats The Sign Shop prefers that you submit in PowerPoint, but they will accept prints in AI, PDF and ID formats. I know from experience that they will also print from JPEG or PNG files Printing Using the Facilities Work Request system you can submit the job for print and arrange payment. However students must create a work order number by calling 717-531-8028. The Facilities Admin Assistant arranges the payment process for you since the Work Request system is set up to bill department fund numbers and grants.

The poster file should be sent to the Sign Shop, and they will print it on paper, cloth or foam core board, depending on your requirements   

Steps If you are a student, get a work order number by calling 717-531-8028. If your department is paying for the poster, find the fund or budget number in the drop-down menu. Send your file and Work Order Number to 

You might enjoy reading Colin Purrington’s opinions and ideas for poster design at Other options Create a poster with lots of images. minimal text and a catchy title based on research conclusions. Tag it with a QR code so that an interested party can download and read the detailed poster. Consider this for conferences