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Poster Design: What software should I use to create my poster?

A short guide on creating posters

PowerPoint is a good place to start

PowerPoint is a good place to start

Creating a research poster using PowerPoint is a multi step process.


  1. Starting your poster:
  2. Create your poster on ONE single slide; choose your page size (your desired print size). You must complete this step before creating your poster.  On the top left hand side of your PowerPoint toolbar go to design, page setup and select you paper size or put in the the size you want your poster to be.  Leave a 1- inch margin around the edges of your poster to prevent having to crop it later.


  1. Flow of your poster:
  2. Your poster should read from top left to bottom right. It is important to maintain a good contrast between the background colour and the text.
  3. Some gradient colour fill backgrounds especially black, will print poorly and may have thin visible lines that you cannot see on your computer. 
  4. Remember the colours you see on your monitor may not be the exact same as your printed poster as monitor colour settings vary.
  5. Try to stick to 2/3 main colours.
  6. Choose  colours that are not too harsh on the eyes.
  7. You can insert objects / shapes to display your text and fill with colour to make them stand out (see poster on Digital Badges for Secondary Schools).




  1. Graphics:
  2. Images copied from the web are low resolution (72 dpi) and are not proper quality for a printed poster. Limit image resolution to 150 dpi to ensure printability. 
  3. All pictures (e.g. tif or gif for transparency, jpg for non-transparent images) should be inserted directly into the PowerPoint, not linked from another program.
  4. Jpeg is the preferred image format if you do not need a transparent background.  If you have graphs or charts from Excel, simply copy and paste into PowerPoint. 
  5. Do not enlarge images after they have been inserted into PowerPoint. 
  6. To adjust an image and retain proper proportion, hold the shift key on your keyboard, click, and drag the corners to scale.
  7. Always remember: if you use a graphic from another source you must cite the source.


  1. Text:
  2. The title should be the entire width of your poster with the main text broken into multiple sections. Section headings are useful for guiding the reader. 
  3. Sans-serif fonts like Arial or Times New Roman work well for posters, play around with different fonts to decide which one best suit your poster.

Times New Roman:  ABCDEFG

Arial: ABCDEFG  


  • For consistency, make all the headers the same size, and use the same font size throughout the poster for all body text. 
  • The size of the font depends on the amount of text on your poster, however it's best not to use a font size smaller than 18 points or the text will be too difficult to read.
  • If you are copying your text form another file (e.g. word document), make sure you paste it into a text box in PowerPoint so that you will be able to edit it if you need to.

5. Saving to PDF

  • Printing services will require a PDF file set to your custom page size for printing, so after you have proofread and edited your poster "save As" a PDF file.




Other software alternatives

If you don't want to use PowerPoint you could try other open source alternatives online.

·Piktochart – Infographic Creator

·Poster My Wall


·Nerdgraph Infographics




Useful Sources


·Scientific Poster Tutorials

·Graphic Design Tips

·Designing conference posters

·Example of poor poster design

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