PowerPoint for Academic Posters Overview

PowerPoint icon PowerPoint for Academic Posters: Tips and videos

This page is intended to give you a brief overview of the techniques and key skills you will need to create an academic poster using Microsoft PowerPoint. If you require further information or help most subjects are supported by our online video tutorials. If you would prefer to work through the PowerPoint for Academic Posters workbook itself you can find it (and the files that support it) here

Contents

  1. General Overview
  2. Setting your slide size correctly
  3. Applying a gradient background
  4. Using guides to help with layout
  5. Images are from Mars...
  6. How to calculate required image dimensions
  7. Adding images to your poster
  8. Adding text to your poster
  9. Aligning shapes and objects on your poster

1. General Overview

The PowerPoint for Academic Posters course explores the methods needed to create a large (A0) size academic poster, such as might be displayed at a conference. Although written for PowerPoint 2013, the approach and techniques should be applicable to any recent version of PowerPoint. The course also explains everything you will need to know to ensure that your images are of sufficient quality to print at the required size. See our introductory video on our YouTube channel Video 1 - Introduction to PP for Posters


2. Setting your slide size correctly

The most important aspect of the poster creation process is setting the size of your PowerPoint slide correctly at the outset. If you create your poster using the default slide size in PowerPoint and then scale your poster the print quality of your images will be very poor.

Not sure how to set up a slide to specific size? You might like to watch our custom slide size tutorial Video 2 - Setting your slide size correctly in PowerPoint


3. Adding a background to your poster

Choosing the right background is important for the overall look and feel of your poster and to ensure that the content is the focus. Flat colours (other than plain white) can be overly dominant so opting for a subtle gradient can be a good choice.

If you'd like to know how to easily apply a subtle gradient to your poster slide then have a look at Video 3 - Adding a background to your poster


4. Using guides to help with layout

If you aren't comfortable designing the layout of your poster by eye you might find adding some guides to your slide helps you.

This video examines how to view, add, re-position and remove guides from your slide Video 4 - Using guides to help with layout


5. Images are from Mars...

Understanding a little about the way "image" content types behave is important when it comes to creating a high quality poster. There are two main types of image that you will work with:

  • Vector graphics
  • Pixel-based images

Vector Graphics

When you add text to your poster using one of the PowerPoint text tools you are adding what is known as a vector graphic. Vector graphics are mathematically defined. All fonts you add via the Text Box feature are of this type. Because they are mathematically defined, when you scale them up or down the software programme (in this case PowerPoint) redraws them for you from scratch. Therefore, the quality is always perfect regardless of the size.

small vector image Small vector larger vector imageScaled version of same image


Pixel-based Graphics

When you add images to your poster these are generally in a pixel-based format. Examples of typical pixel-based image formats are png, jpg, tiff and gif. Pixel-based images comprise a grid of pixels (short for picture elements) which are squares containing colour information. A particular image will have a set number of pixels. Scaling such an image only increases the size of the pixels and therefore, makes them more obvious (decreasing the visual quality of the image)

40 pixel image A 40 x 40px image displayed at 100% original size 40 pixel image at 6x original size A 40 x 40px image displayed at 600% original size

If you want to get a better overview of image types then take a look at our tutorial on the subject - Video 5 - Images are from Mars...


6. How to calculate required image dimensions

When adding pixel-based images to your poster you need to make sure that you have enough "information" in the image to enable it to print at high quality. Generally the "information" you are concerned with is the number of pixels.

There are some useful rules to understand when it comes to working with images:

  1. Rule 1 - Printing will show up quality issues much more than on-screen
  2. Rule 2 - You’ll need to think imperial to work with images
  3. Rule 3 - To get your image sizes right for your poster you’ll need to do some maths (or be very lucky)

To find out more about these rules and learn all the essentials you'll need to know about calculating image sizes for your poster check out our tutorial on the subject - Video 6 - Calculating image dimensions for your poster


7. Adding images to your poster

There are two main methods of adding images to your presentation. One is to use an image located on your computer system. The other is to search for and use an online image. Video 7 - Adding images to your poster takes you through both methods and also introduces the concept of copyright and Creative Commons licensing


8. Adding text to your poster

Text is very easy to add to your PowerPoint poster. The most conventional route is to use the Text Box tool. You can either type directly in to the box or copy and paste from other sources such as Microsoft Word. To get up to speed quickly have a look at our short tutorial Video 8 - Adding text to your poster


9. Aligning shapes and objects on your poster

If you’re not comfortable arranging items on your poster by eye PowerPoint makes it easy to ensure that the alignment of shapes and objects on your slides is accurate. By working with some simple shapes this tutorial provides a quick introduction to the subject Video 9 - Aligning shapes and objects on your poster


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