Poster Printing! Best Practices to Ensure You Make a Poster that Effectively Communicates Your Ideas

ellenThis week we have invited Ellen Lincourt, Master of Posters (seriously, this should be an official bullet in her job description!), to contribute to our blog. Ellen is generally the first person you will meet when you come to the main ATC office in Fuller Labs. Not only does she coordinate the poster printing services that the ATC offers, but she provides loads of great support when you are dropping off a poster to the ATC to be printed. Whereas other off-campus printing services (that may or may not start with the letter K) just print your poster without first checking it for possible print issues, Ellen wants to make sure your poster prints correctly the first time. So, plan to spend about 15-20 minutes with Ellen when you drop off your poster as she goes through it with you to check your images, fonts, or other content that might not print correctly. That other K-printing place doesn’t do this, and they’ll double-charge you for a reprint if it’s a formatting issue with how you prepared the poster, to boot!

Also, another pro-tip: make sure you get your poster in early. We need at least two business days to turn around a poster, particularly around large events like project/poster presentation days.


The very first step in making a great poster is determining how big it needs to be. If you are creating a poster for a conference, class, or presentation, you should check if there are a specific size or size limits.

Large format printing can be almost any size over 13” x 19”. The ATC has paper that comes 100 feet long. These rolls of paper come in 3 widths; 24”, 36”, or 42”. As long as one of your dimensions is less than 42”, the ATC can print it. However, the ATC does not have the ability to trim. So, if you can use either 24”, 36”, or 42” as one of your dimensions, you will ensure that you will not have to trim your print at all.

The ATC recommends poster production be designed in PowerPoint. PowerPoint attempts to adjust if you need to change size and/or aspect ratio. It will move around elements and change text size to your new dimensions. Additionally, ATC staff is able to assist you in making last minute changes to your poster if you use PowerPoint. It is the most forgiving of all the software you can use to design a poster.

When using other software, you will have to submit your poster in a pdf. Even if you save or export your poster as a pdf, we cannot assure you that it will print perfectly. Because of the specific needs of large format printing, there may be some inconsistency between the software you are using to create your poster and the way our printers interpret it. This is why it is always best to submit your poster with a minimum of two business days lead time. This will provide time to find issues and allow for reprints.

Finally, keep in mind that fonts are not consistent across all computers. Just because your PC has a particular font, does not mean that another person’s computer will have that font. When you move it to another PC, the new computer may make a “guess” to substitute the missing font. Try to use a common font or look up how to embed fonts in pdfs.

One of the advantages of using PowerPoint is that there is a way to embed your fonts, so that a new computer won’t have to “guess” what font to use. Here’s the settings you need to follow in PowerPoint; File > Options > Save > Embed and File > OK (Note: we recommend you embed all of the characters in case we need to edit.). A second way of doing the same thing is found when you are saving; Save As (select where you want to save) > Tools (this will be a drop down menu near the save button) > Save Options > Embed and File > OK.

One other factor is picking a font and font size is to remember that most people will stand about 2 to 4 feet away from your poster. When you are making your poster, a good idea is to increase the on screen magnification to 100% and then stand back about 4 feet and see if you can clearly read your font.

Remember, the ATC is always here to help you, even when you are planning or working on your poster. Feel free to drop by Fuller 117 or call 508-831-5220 to ask questions. We will give you feedback and advice on how to ensure that your poster reflects your research and work.