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MESA Teachers' Research Guide

Engineering Librarian & CAPLA Liaison

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Paula C Johnson
Main Library A403

Designing with Powerpoint


Microsoft PowerPoint was originally designed for slide presentations, not posters. But it can also be used to create a poster.  When you create a poster with PowerPoint, you are creating the poster on only ONE slide (a very large slide). 

NOTE: PowerPoint for Windows versions  are very similar. Screenshots here may differ slightly from the version you're using, but most features work the same way.  

Getting Started

1. Launch PowerPoint by clicking its program icon. Choose a template, or start from scratch by selecting Blank Presentation.

When you start a new presentation, you may see default text boxes in the slide window.  

These boxes are used for the title slide of a presentation. You don't need them, so delete them by selecting them with the mouse cursor and pressing the delete key. 

2. To specify the dimensions of the poster click the Customize icon under the Design tab. Then click Slide Size.

In the Slide Size dialog box, enter the Width and Height for your poster.  Be sure that the printer you plan to use is able to print at the size you specify.  

Important Notes on Poster Sizing:

  • The maximum slide size in PowerPoint is 56 inches x 56 inches.

  • PowerPoint slides are, by default, 13.333 inches wide by 7.5 inches high.

  • The standard size for PRINT academic posters is 48 inches wide by 36 inches tall.

  • DIGITAL posters may be STANDARD (4:3) or WIDESCREEN (16:9). PowerPoint has pre-sets for these that you may use. The poster will automatically adjust to fit the screen you are using. If you think you'll print out your poster, you may want to adjust the sizing. To fit these proportions, a 4:3 poster would be 56 inches wide by 42 inches high, and a 16:9 poster would be 56 inches wide by 31.5 inches high.

If you want a poster that is longer or wider than  56" we suggest that you create your poster at half-size. Then when you print it, print it at 200% size. For example, if you want your finished poster to be 40" by 80", set your poster size to 20" by 40". Then print it at 200%. Keep in mind that if you are creating your poster at half-size, everything in it (text, heading, charts, images) will end up being twice as large in your finished poster.  So, for example, if you create a title that has a font size of 48 points, in the final poster it will be 96 points.

Format Background



Design Resources

Use these resources to help you format and design your poster presentation:

Poster Design Checklist  This checklist provide Do's and Dont's - and some links to helpful videos

Poster and Presentation Resources  Find templates, examples, presentation advice, and academic poster design tips

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Powerpoint Poster  Find additional templates, visual instructions, tips and videos

Use these websites to find Creative Commons, Public Domain, and other "rights free" images.

These resources can assist you in creating a well-formed report for your project.

Writing engineering design reports (U. of Melbourne)  A simple framework for preparing easy-to-read reports

Writing as an Engineer or Scientist  (Penn State) Find sample proposals, reports, templates, and videos of design presentations.