This section of Creating Research Posters will cover creating a poster in PowerPoint, including creating a new file, adding images and text, and exporting the final version in a print-ready format.
This section of the course assumes you're familiar with recent versions of PowerPoint. If you haven't worked with PowerPoint before, it's recommended that you review the content in the course PowerPoint: The Basics before starting your poster.
NOTE: The step-by-step instructions were written using PowerPoint 365 – however, the instructions should work in older versions of PowerPoint.
Things to note about creating a poster in PowerPoint
PowerPoint is mainly intended for creating presentations displayed on a screen, and as a result, there are a number of things to note about creating posters in PowerPoint:
PowerPoint does not have the ability to wrap text around an image. In order to have text wrap around an image, the text will need to be broken up into a number of text boxes that are arranged around the image.
While PowerPoint offers the option to create columns of text in a text box, the inability to wrap text around an image means you may need to use a number of text boxes arranged around an image to emulate the appearance of a column of text.
PowerPoint does offer guides and a grid that can be used to line up text and images, to help create the appearance of columns on a poster.
Charts and graphs made in Excel can be directly imported or copied and pasted into PowerPoint, eliminating the need to export graphs and charts as image files before including them in a poster.
Page margins will need to be manually set using guides to make sure there's space between the poster's content and the edge of the page, to ensure none of the poster content accidentally gets cut off.
Setting up the poster file
The first step in the poster creation process is to create the poster file, and ensure that the slide is the correct size for your poster. You’ll also want to remove the existing content placeholders that are on the slide before adding content to the poster.
To create a new presentation, in the New section of the Home screen,
Click Blank Presentation
To begin the process of changing the slide size, on the ribbon,
Click the Design tab
To open the Slide Size dialog box, on the right side of the Design tab on the ribbon,
Click, Click Custom Slide Size…
To change the size of the slide to your desired poster size, in the width and height fields of the Custom Slide Size dialog box,
type in the desired values for the width and height of your poster
To accept the changes made to the slide size, at the bottom right of the Slide Size dialog box,
To scale the existing poster content to fit on the poster,
To move to the Home tab, on the ribbon,
Click the Home tab
To remove the content placeholders from the slide, in the Slides group on the ribbon,
Click , Click Blank Slide
Now the slide is an appropriate size for a poster. Before adding content to the poster, it's a good idea to display the grids and guides. This can be done from the View tab on the ribbon.
To move to the View tab, on the Ribbon,
To display gridlines, in the Show group on the ribbon,
Click the checkbox next to Gridlines
To display guides, on the ribbon,
Click the checkbox next to Guides
Using guides to help with content layout
Guides can be used to help accomplish a number of tasks in PowerPoint. They can be used to indicate the poster's margin, or to help align text boxes in order to create the appearance of text columns. The following steps will walk through the process of adding and positioning guides on a slide.
To add a guide to the slide,
Right-Click a blank area of the slide, Point to , Click either Add Vertical Guide or Add Horizontal Guide
To reposition a guide,
Point to the guide until the cursor changes to the Move Guide cursor (), Press & Drag guide to desired location
Adding content to the poster
Adding the content for the poster will be split into two sections — adding text and adding images.
To add text to a poster in PowerPoint, you'll need to copy it from the original document that contains your poster text and paste it into text boxes in PowerPoint. While PowerPoint does allow for importing text directly into a slide, the imported text isn't placed into the poster in a way that is easy to rearrange as needed. For a research poster, it's best to copy your text, one section at a time, and paste it into text boxes on the poster. Newer versions of PowerPoint allow for adding columns to text boxes, too, which can be helpful to use if you don’t have text that needs to wrap around an image.
The following video demonstrates how to add text to a poster in PowerPoint. The process demonstrated in the video is outlined in the accordions following the video.
NOTE: The following video was recorded using PowerPoint 2016, and as such, some information included in the video is out of date when it comes to newer versions of PowerPoint. The step-by-step instructions demonstrated will still work in current versions of PowerPoint, however.
Description of the video:
In this video, we’ll be walking through the process of adding text to a research poster in PowerPoint. I’ll be starting with a PowerPoint file that’s already set to the correct size for printing, with some guides already set up to emulate columns and margins. I’ll also be working with demonstration text that’s saved in a Word file.
To start adding text to the poster, we’ll go to the Insert tab on the Ribbon. Once on the Ribbon, click the Text Box button to start adding a box for the poster’s text.
Next, we’ll press and drag to make a text box on the poster. We can easily resize and re-position it later if we need to. I’m not making it very large – because PowerPoint doesn’t allow for making columns of text in a text box, or wrapping text around images, I’m going to add text to my poster one section at a time.
Once we have a text box on the poster, we’ll switch to the file where the poster’s text is located. My text is in a Word document. I’m going to select the Introduction section by pressing and dragging to highlight it, and copy it using the keyboard shortcut Control-C.
Now, we’ll switch back to PowerPoint. Once we’re back in PowerPoint, click on the text box we created to select it, then use the keyboard shortcut Control-V to paste it into the frame.
Once the poster has text on it, we can style it using the Font and Paragraph sections on the Home tab of the Ribbon. Simply select the text you wish to style, then use the tools in the Font and Paragraph sections on the Home tab to change the appearance of your text. After changing the appearance of your text, you may have to resize or rearrange your text frames, so you might want to style each chunk of text as you bring it into your poster.
We’ll repeat these steps to add additional text to the poster – if we have some text that is too long, we can also break it up into multiple text boxes and move them where we need them.
(switch to poster with image) We can also make use of multiple text boxes to have text flow around images, if we need to. We can split up the text by cutting some of the text from a frame (by selecting it and using the keyboard shortcut Control-X), making a new text frame, and pasting the text into it. If needed, we can resize the box again if PowerPoint resizes it when we add text to it.
To get things to look right, you might have to do some tweaking to where the text ends in one text box, and where it starts in another, but with some finessing, you can get the text to look like it wraps naturally around the images.
Now you know how to add text to a research poster, and rearrange the text if needed to wrap it around images.
Open the poster’s text in a text editor or word processing application,
To copy a section of the text to include in the poster,
Press & Drag to select desired text, press: Control key + C
To move to the Insert tab, on the ribbon,
Click the Insert tab
To start adding a text box to the poster, on the ribbon,
To add the text box to the poster,
Press & Drag to create a text box
To add the text copied in step b to the text box, on the keyboard, press:
Control key + V
Repeat steps b-f for each section of text you want to include in your poster.
To view the Format Shape pane for a text box,
Right-Click the text box, Click Format Shape…
To view the text options, at the top of the Format Shape pane,
Click Text Options
To display the text box options,
To view the column options,
To adjust the number of columns in the text box, in the Number field of the Columns dialog box,
type the desired number of columns
To adjust the spacing between the columns of text, in the Spacing field,
type the value for the desired amount of space between columns
To accept the changes,
Text can be styled using the Font and Paragraph groups, located on the Home tab on the Ribbon.
The Font group contains tools for changing the appearance of your text, including changing the font's size and color. The Paragraph group contains tools for changing text alignment, line spacing, and for creating lists.
Adding images to a poster in PowerPoint is also done from the Insert tab on the ribbon. Remember, when adding images to your poster, don't enlarge them after they've been placed into your poster — if they appear too small once added to your poster, you may want to check and make sure that they're an appropriate size and resolution for your poster. For more information, read the section Changing your Image's Resolution on the page Gathering High Quality Images.
The following video demonstrates how to add images to a poster in PowerPoint, and the process demonstrated in the video is outlined in the accordion following the video.
Description of the video:
In this video, we’ll be walking through the process of adding images to a poster in PowerPoint. I’ll be using a poster that already has text added to it, and placing images that I’ve already prepared for use in a poster.
To start adding an image to a poster, we’ll want to switch to the Insert tab on the Ribbon. From there, we’ll click the Pictures button to start the process of adding a picture.
The Insert Picture dialog box will open. In the Insert Picture dialog box, we’ll navigate to the picture we want to add, and then double-click to open it. PowerPoint will add the image to the poster.
From here, we can move the image, or resize it if we need to. One thing to remember with images in research posters is that we want to be careful when we’re resizing images to not make them any larger than their original size, because enlarging images will likely make them blurry or pixelated. If you’ve got images that are really small once you put them in your poster, check out the section Gathering High Quality Images in the Creating Research Posters course to learn how to get images that are perfect for posters. (go.iu link: http://go.iu.edu/24sm)
I’m going to make this image a little smaller, and then move it to a new position on my poster. To resize an image, point the cursor to one of the corners of the image until you get the diagonal double-ended arrow, then press and drag to resize.
One thing to remember about making a poster in PowerPoint is that you can’t wrap text around images – instead, you can make a number of smaller text frames to simulate text wrapping around an image. To learn more about how to do this, watch the video Adding Text to a Poster in PowerPoint.
Now we know how to add an image to a poster in PowerPoint.
To view the Insert tab on the ribbon, if necessary,
Click the Insert tab
To add an image to the poster, on the ribbon,
Click , Click This Device...
To select the image to add to your poster, in the Insert Picture dialog box,
navigate to the file you want to add, Double-Click the file to open it
To move the image to the desired location on the poster,
Press & Drag the image to a new location
Preparing your poster for printing
Once you've completed your poster, you'll want to make sure that it's saved as a PDF. This ensures that your poster will look exactly the way you want it to when it's printed, and will package all of your images, fonts, and text into one file that can be printed on any computer. We'll need to move to the Backstage view in PowerPoint to save our file as a PDF.
To start the process of saving the file as a PDF, on the ribbon,
Click the File Tab
To save the poster as a PDF, in the menu on the left side of the screen,
Click Save as Adobe PDF
Navigate to the folder on your computer where you want to save the PDF.
In the File Name field, if necessary, give the file a name.
To finish saving the file, in the lower right corner of the Save Adobe PDF File As dialog box,
NOTE: If the Save as Adobe PDF option doesn't appear in the left side menu in Backstage view, Click Export, Click the Create Adobe PDF option in the Export menu, Click the Create Adobe PDF button, and then follow steps 3-5 as described previously.
At this point, your poster is now ready for printing!