How to make a poster in PowerPoint

How to make a poster in PowerPoint

Table of Contents

PowerPoint isn’t just for presentations; it’s also a powerful tool for designing professional or scientific posters. We’ll walk you through the basics of how to make a poster in PowerPoint, from layout planning to printing. 

This guide will show you how, whether for a class, conference, exhibition, or work project. You’ll discover design tips and free template sources to inspire your creativity. By following these simple steps, you’ll have your poster draft ready today!

Steps: How to make a poster in PowerPoint

Step 1: Create a new presentation

Open PowerPoint on the web or your computer and create a new blank presentation.

Step 2: Set the poster size

The standard PowerPoint slide is a mere 10” x 7.5” and not a standard poster size. You’ll want to change this to the appropriate dimensions.

Set slide (poster) size in PowerPoint

Go to the ‘Design’ tab and click ‘Slide size’.

Custom poster size in PowerPoint

You can choose from preset sizes or enter your own custom dimensions. If using custom sizes, type in your desired poster size. Select the orientation (landscape or portrait).

For Slide scale, select either ‘Scale to fit’ (to adjust your content size to fit the poster) or ‘Crop’ (to trim off excess content).

The most common poster sizes are:

  • 11 x 17 in
  • 18 x 24 in
  • 24 x 36 in
  • 27 x 41 in
  • 48 x 36 in
  • 56 x 36 in

Step 3: Plan the layout

Before adding images and text in PowerPoint, consider planning your poster’s layout. This isn’t just an extra step; it’s a key part of your design process. Take a moment to sketch out your ideas on paper. How many columns will you need? Where should images or graphs go?

Poster layout in PowerPoint

For portrait posters, 2 or 3 columns usually work well, creating a balanced look. Landscape posters can comfortably fit 3 to 4, offering more space for detailed content.

💡 Pro tip: This planning step might seem like extra work, but it can significantly reduce confusion and save time when you start designing in PowerPoint. A well-thought-out layout leads to a clearer, more effective poster.

Step 4: Add images and text

Now, it’s time to fill out your poster with images and text. Think of the poster as a visual guide for your audience. Create the content as though it is a story, or present a selected portion of your work if there’s too much to fit into a poster.  

Key tips for creating poster content: 

  • Stay focused on your main goal, theme, or topic.
  • Clearly convey your key message. Include important takeaways, lessons learned, or conclusions.
  • Tell a story that engages and resonates with your audience.
  • Use high-resolution images for printing, ideally at least 150 dpi. Low-resolution images (below 72 dpi) might look blurry on larger posters.
  • Finding the right images can be challenging. Think creatively, using analogies or narrative elements to spark ideas for visuals.

Using a PowerPoint poster template

To save time, you can consider starting with a PowerPoint poster template, or use the templates as a source of inspiration.

Where to find free PowerPoint poster templates

These templates are available in .ppt and .pptx formats and are ready to edit.

Saving and exporting for print

Once you’ve finished designing your poster in PowerPoint, save it as a PDF. This ensures your poster is print-ready, preserving your formatting and design exactly as you created it.

For Windows and Mac OS:

  1. Go to ‘File’, then ‘Export’ (Windows) or ‘Save As’ (Mac OS).
  2. Choose ‘Create PDF/XPS Document’ (Windows) or select PDF as the file format (Mac OS).
  3. On Mac OS, set the print quality to ‘High’.

For Web:

  1. Select ‘File’ > ‘Download as’, or ‘Save as’.
  2. Choose ‘Download as PDF’.
Save poster as PDF in PowerPoint

💡 PDFs are widely compatible with printing devices and maintain your poster’s formatting, layout, and design better than other file formats.

Poster design tips

🎨 Poster sizes

Common poster sizes include 24×36 and 56×36. To check your poster size, go to the ‘Design’ tab > ‘Slide size’ > ‘Custom slide size.’

Common poster sizes in PowerPoint
How to check poster size in PowerPoint

If you’re converting from paper sizes (in inches), these are the dimensions to use:

  • A0 (33.1 x 46.8 in)
  • A1 (23.4 x 33.1 in)
  • A2 (16.5 x 23.4 in)
  • A3 (11.7 x 16.5 in)
  • A4 (8.3 x 11.7 in)

💡 Always design your file at full size (100%)!

🎨 Image resolution

The quality of images is crucial, especially when it comes to printing versus displaying on the web. Print materials generally require higher resolution graphics to ensure clarity and sharpness on paper.

  • For printing: Aim for a minimum of 150 dpi (dots per inch). For best quality, 300 dpi is ideal.
  • For web use: 72 or 96 ppi (pixels per inch) is sufficient. Lower resolutions result in smaller file sizes, which are quicker to load online.
Comparing image resolutions

💡 Remember, an image’s resolution refers to its level of detail. Higher resolution means more dots or pixels per inch, leading to clearer and more detailed images.

🎨 Colors and backgrounds

  • Using colors in your poster? Choose and stick to 2 or 3 complementary colors for best visual impact.
  • Ensure there’s good contrast between your text, images, and background. This contrast is key to making your content easy to read.
  • For backgrounds, whether you choose solid colors, gradients, or images, aim for subtlety. Often, a light-toned background color works well, but sometimes a background isn’t necessary to convey your message.
Color contrast for poster design

💡 Printing tip: Colors can look different when printed compared to on-screen. For printing, the CMYK color mode is recommended. Check with your printing service for any specific requirements or adjustments needed.

🎨 Fonts, text, and titles

  • Organize your content using a separate text box for each paragraph or section.
  • For the body text, choose legible fonts, especially if your poster is text-heavy. PennState recommends these easy-to-read fonts:
    • Sans-serif fonts: Verdana, Lucida Sans/Lucida Grande, Tahoma, Andika
    • Serif fonts: Georgia, Palatino/Palatino Linotype, Book Antiqua
  • When selecting font sizes, consider your poster’s size and viewing distance. If unsure, start with these font sizes and adjust accordingly:
    • Title: 72 to 85pt for visibility
    • Sub-headings: 36 to 40pt for emphasis
    • Body text: 24pt or larger for readability
    • Captions: 18pt to be legible

💡 To maintain a cohesive poster design, limit yourself to two font types.

For example, use a serif font for your title to draw attention and a sans-serif font for body text for easy reading. Mixing too many fonts can overwhelm and distract your audience.

Summary

In this tutorial, we’ve shown you how to create a poster in PowerPoint. You’ve learned to set the right dimensions, plan your layout, and add high-quality images and text. Apply these steps to design visually striking posters that clearly deliver your message, whether for academic, professional, or personal use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this tutorial work for other versions of PowerPoint?

Yes, you can follow the same steps for the Windows, Mac OS, or the web (online) version of PowerPoint.


Is PowerPoint free to use?

The web version of PowerPoint is free to use. You’ll need to create a free Microsoft 365 account.


What’s the maximum poster size in PowerPoint?

The maximum slide size in PowerPoint is 56” x 56” (142.24cm x 142.24cm). If you need a larger poster size, consider using dedicated design software like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, or Affinity Publisher.


Can I design the poster using another presentation software and convert it to .ppt?

Yes, you can use similar software like Google Slides and convert your files.

Learn more:

💡 How to Convert Google Slides to PowerPoint

💡 How To Convert PowerPoint to Google Slides

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