The University of Arizona


Poster Design

Making Posters with PowerPoint

Creating a research poster using PowerPoint involves several steps. Utilize these guidelines to ensure the development of a top-notch poster for your presentation or event.

REMEMBER: After completing and spellchecking your poster, convert your PowerPoint file to PDF format for submission and printing purposes.

Understanding Design Requirements: Getting Started

Poster Size (W x H):

1) PowerPoint limits the dimensions of slides; if you plan on printing a poster with dimensions larger than 56″, you will need to create it at ½ scale. For example, to create a finished printed size of 72” x 36”, the design size should be 36” x 18, which will be scaled up to the finished size at the time of printing.

What is Your Deadline?

1) Plan to avoid high volume times for quicker turnaround.
2) Lead time for most jobs, such as a single poster without mounting, is 1-2 business days. If you have a tight deadline and need your poster sooner, please contact our Service Desk at 520-626-7343 or email

Mounting and Lamination

1) If your poster requires mounting or lamination, plan an additional 1-2 business days (for a total of 2-4 business days) ahead of your due date to ensure timely completion. If you need assistance, call us at 520-626-7343 or email

Gathering Your Content

1) Academic posters summarize what you did, how you did it, and what you learned. Most are divided into four parts:

  • Introduction, Background, Objectives (what you did)
  • Design or Methods (how you did it)
  • Results
  • Conclusion, References (what you learned)

2) Space is limited. Choose your words and graphics carefully.
3) SPELL CHECK your poster before submitting it for printing!

Basic Design Guidelines


1) Your poster design file should be created full size (100%). If the finished poster size is 36″ wide x 24″ tall, then set your slide dimensions to 36″ x 24″.

  • Open a new document in PowerPoint.
  • From the file menu, choose Page Setup
  • Set Width and Height (max. 56″)
  • Click OK.
  • If a message says, “The current page size exceeds the printable area of the paper in the printer,” just click OK.


Visuals speak volumes. Poster content should be 60% images and 40% text. Use graphs, charts, tables, and photos to summarize and present data.

1) Where You Get Images from Matters.

  • Use original images from your work when possible.
  • Images copied from the web are low resolution (72 dpi) and are not good quality for a printed poster.
  • High-resolution images (150 dpi or higher) are required to print high-quality posters. The minimum image resolution should be 150 dpi for best results.
  • Insert images directly into PowerPoint. Don’t cut and paste or copy and paste.
  • Enlarging images in PowerPoint is not recommended.


1) Someone standing 3–4 feet away should be able to read everything on your poster. Here are some suggested fonts and sizes:

  • Sans serif: Lucida Sans, Lucida Grande; Serif:  Palatino, Book Antiqua
  • Title: 60/72 point
  • Headings/section titles: 40/56 point
  • Body text: 24/28/32 point
  • Captions: 18 point

2) Limit yourself to 2 or three types of fonts to create consistency and unity.
3) Present information like you normally read—left to right, top to bottom.
4) Use columns and line breaks to divide the poster into smaller sections.
5) Use bullets instead of long paragraphs to summarize information.
6) Maintain a good contrast between the background color and the text.

  • A gradient color filling the background, especially black, will print poorly and is not recommended.


BioCom CTS requires a PDF file to print your poster set to your custom page size. To save a PowerPoint poster to PDF, follow the steps outlined in Saving PowerPoint Presentations as PDF Files.

Order your poster online from BioCom Copy Technology Services by completing the submission form and uploading your PDF file. Pick up and pay for posters in the College of Medicine, BioCommunications, 1501 N Campbell Ave. Rm 3404.