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Designing a poster presentation in PowerPoint®.

Important Tip:  Start with a new file or template

It's always best to start with a new, clean file or template rather than re-working an old poster file. An old file may contain unsupported fonts or have default settings altered in some way that isn't readily apparent. Genigraphics poster templates are updated to work with the most recent versions of PowerPoint and we recommend that you always download directly from our poster templates page. If your institution has a layout and color scheme that you are required to use, start with a fresh template from your graphics department - we can print that for you too!

Important Tip:  When collaborating, use a master file

If several authors are involved with creating and editing content, designate one person to retain the master file. Send copies out for contributions and comments, then copy and paste any revisions back into the original master file. This ensures that the file you eventually print isn't passed back and forth between different PowerPoint versions, or between a Mac and PC, as that can cause a number of problems.

Determine the correct size

Before you add content, always check that you are preparing your poster in the dimensions and orientation (portrait or landscape) that are allowed for your meeting. Specifications may change from year to year so don't rely on what was used at previous meetings. You may have received poster guidelines when your abstract was accepted or they may be published on the meeting website. If unsure, it's best to ask.

Printing posters larger than 56"

PowerPoint allows a maximum dimension of 56 inches in either direction. To print a poster larger than 56 inches, you can use half scale measurements. For instance, use a 36x18 slide size to produce a 72x36 printed poster - just make sure that the slide size is proportional to the desired print size. Better yet, use one of our pre-sized poster templates.

Leave an inch or two

If you are given a maximum poster size, then we suggest you make the poster a few inches smaller as most poster boards have a 1-2 inch metal frame around the edge. Our 44x44 template is perfect for a 48x48 space and you will be able to attach the printed poster cleanly without the edges curling or hanging off the bottom of the board. For a 48x96 space we suggest our 42x90 template.


Go to the Design tab, click Slide Size, click Custom Slide Size, and enter the desired width and height.


Go to the Design tab, click Slide Size, click Page Setup, and enter the desired width and height. Or go to File menu, Page Setup.

General considerations

  • Intuitive sequence: Use column formats that flow top to bottom, right to left.
  • Keep it simple: Focus on a few main points and edit ruthlessly.
  • Emphasize visually: Use relevant images, tables, and graphs.
  • Plan Ahead: Allow yourself plenty of time for reviews and revisions.

More to come

The balanace of this section is currently being updated. Please check back soon.

Choosing the right colors

The most important thing to remember about color combinations is contrast. Use a dark font on a light background for the main body text as this will be the easiest for your viewers to read. Black, dark gray, or dark blue text on an off-white or light gray background is a good choice for maximum acuity with minimal eye strain when reading large blocks of text. For areas with a limited amount of text, such as the title or section headers, a light colored font on a dark background works fine.

The colors on your display are "additive" - in other words, various wavelengths of projected light are combined to create a specific color. Blue and red make purple, red and green make yellow, blue/red/green combine to yield white, and so on. Printed colors, on the other hand, are "subtractive" - combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink are layered to absorb light until a specific color is acheived. As a result, printed colors will always appear different, often somewhat darker, than what you see on your screen. The dark blues in PowerPoint tend to print with more of a purplish color. The oranges tend to print more reddish, or even toward brown. We designed the default color theme in our poster templates to use colors that are proven to print with high accuracy.

Using color for emphasis

The use of color to associate related elements, or highlight an important item, is fine. But try not to use more than two or three colors throughout the entire poster or you'll just cause visual confusion. A uniquely colored border is one way to draw focus to a specific area.

Other considerations

  • Avoid large, distracting background images and patterns.
  • Avoid using red and green in combination because some people have difficulty distinguishing between the two.
  • Colors have varying psychologial impact. Google search: color psychology chart.
  • Use the poster's color theme throughout all charts and tables for consistency.

Explore the built-in color themes

Genigraphics poster templates have a number of built-in color themes. See the graphic below for how to explore the available options.


Go to the Design tab, click the down arrow in the Variants group. Click Colors, and choose one of the alternate color themes.


Go to the Design tab, click the down arrow in the Variants group. Click Colors, and choose one of the alternate color thhemes.

Choosing the right font

There are a variety of opinions about whether to use serif or sans-serif fonts for the body text. Many will tell you that serif fonts (Times, Garamond, Bookman) are easier to read in sentence/paragraph form and sans-serif fonts should only be used for titles and section headers. However, while serif fonts are certainly more readable in documents and books, sans-serif fonts are more legible on posters since these are read at some distance. For body text we recommend a humanist sans-serif font like Calibri, Franklin Gothic, or Gill Sans as these will be easier to read due to their wide counters and open apertures (Wikipedia definition: Counter (typography)).

Determining the correct font size

Titles are typically 72 point font or larger, with authors and affiliations in the 40-60pt range. To make the body text legible at 4-5 feet we suggest a minimum 24pt font and 28-36pt is ideal. If you are using a scaled template (for instance, a 24x48 template to print a 48x96 poster) keep in mind that your font sizes will be scaled as well. So a 16pt font will appear as 32pt when printed. View your poster file at 100% zoom (or 200% if scaled) and then step 4-5 feet away from your display. This will give you a good estimation of how your font choices will work in print.

Other considerations

  • For consistency, use the same font for all body text.
  • Use the same size font for like elements (i.e. - all headers at 48pt)
  • Try not to use more than two font types in the entire poster.
  • Do not use all caps or all bolded body text as it is difficult to read.
  • Do not use Comic Sans font. Ever. Seriously.

Embedding fonts

Genigraphics supports all of the TrueType fonts installed with Windows OS, Mac OS, and all versions of Microsoft Office. If you use custom fonts or non-standard TrueType fonts, you will need to embed the fonts within the file or upload the font file with your order.


To embed the fonts, click File | Save As | Tools | Save Options, then check the box for "Embed fonts in the file" and select the "Embed all characters" radio button.


Unfortunately, you cannot embed fonts in a Mac PowerPoint file. If you are using custom fonts, please include the font file(s) with your order.

Under construction

We apologize for the inconvenience but this section is currently being updated. Please check back soon.

Under construction

We apologize for the inconvenience but this section is currently being updated. Please check back soon.

Under construction

We apologize for the inconvenience but this section is currently being updated. Please check back soon.

Under construction

We apologize for the inconvenience but this section is currently being updated. Please check back soon.