Poster making

Use PowerPoint to make full-size A0 colour posters, and A4 handouts

If you need to make a professional-looking display poster for a conference, PowerPoint offers a method that can be learnt easily – see instructions below.

When you have produced your poster, it can be printed in full colour and large format (over a meter tall) at professional printing houses and photocopying shops.

You can also produce standard black and white and/ or coloured A4 handouts of your poster using any regular black and white or colour printer: Open your PowerPoint and (from File) select Print. For ‘Print what’ select HANDOUTS. You must tick SCALE TO FIT PAPER to get the reduced size poster on one A4 paper. [In some printer options „everything“ is ticked and that works automatically]

Enjoy sharing your ideas!

1. Open a new Power Point file.

2. From the top menu, under Design (3rd from left) go to Page setup

3. Slides sized for… select CUSTOM

4. Width 81.4cm and Height 118.9cm (this is A0; for other standarad ISO/DIN-sizes, see You can also choose the orientation of your poster (portrait or landscape.

5. Remove ‘Title’ and ‘Subtitle’ so that you have a blank page. Starting with the background, you will now create the pieces of your poster.

6. To frame the poster, insert a rectangle (bottom menu: between the arrow and the oval and text icons): this rectangle should nearly fill the page, leaving only 1cm on each edge. Fill the rectangle with a background colour, that will clearly show your information boxes.

7. On top of this background, insert more boxes: for the title, for each text… . You can make a mini-frame for each text by inserting a first shape to make the outer frame (I prefer Rounded rectangle; this is under Autoshapes; go to basic shapes: it is 2nd row, on the left), fill with a colour (different from the main background); then on top of this add the text box.

8. You can insert text, pictures, diagrams, etc: see the bottom menu. Text size: Arial 32 is comfortable, and titles can be Arial 60. For A0, a minimum Arial 28 is recommended; anything smaller is really tiring to read on the A4 handout version of the poster.   For A1, Calibri 24 is fine.

9. You can save your poster in PPT format. However, if you want to have a more universal format and reduce storage space, you may want to convert it into a pdf.
A note on the content of your poster: A poster is a visually-based medium for informing the reader about whatever topic you have worked on. Design the poster in a clear way so that the reader can also understand it when you are not around. The important information should easily attract the attention of the viewer. The amount of text you can give in your poster is necessarily limited. Don’t try to overload it with verbal information. Less is more! The viewer should be given gist information – the details can be given orally, when you present the poster at the conference. Make optimal use of graphical elements in the layout (text boxes, tables, figures, etc.).
A note on plagiarism: A poster counts as a publication. It is quotable. Make sure that you reference any literature you have used in your poster properly, in order to avoid plagiarism
Practical tip: Make sure that you have adhesive tape and/or pins with you, just in case the conference organizer does not provide them. For optimal transportation, afford a poster tube. It will protect your poster and will make carrying easy.