Case Studies - Posters with PowerPoint

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Intended Audience

Treat your audience as you would colleagues at an international interdisciplinary research conference. Avoid over-using jargon, but do carefully construct each paragraph, ensuring that they are grammatically correct (think of Schimel’s advice in Writing Science).


To convey the purpose, methods, and significance of your proposed thesis research. Include text, but be brief and succinct. Your audience should be able to obtain a good understanding of your proposed research and its importance by looking at your poster, but they should not have to do an in-depth reading to absorb this information.


Your poster should be aesthetically pleasing. Use font that is easy to read from at least two meters away. Use a color scheme that is appealing and accessible (see specifications, below). Ensure that your layout is easy to follow (test your layout on someone to ensure this is the case).

Poster Specifications

  • Dimensions: 36" x 24"
  • File type: .pdf
  • Accessibility: review the Accessibility Guidelines
  • Title: 25 words or less (preferably much less)
  • Authors: Include author(s) and affiliation of each author.
  • Keywords: Include five, easily searchable key words that characterize your work.
  • Abstract: Use 250 words or less, following the advice given in Booth et al., pp. 211-12, using the third form, which they refer to as “Summary.”
  • Introduction: Provide appropriate background to the environmental or social problem you are addressing. Clearly state your research question.
  • Methods: State hypotheses if applicable. Clearly state the methods that you will be using in sufficient detail. Include a schematic diagram of your research/experimental design.
  • Results: If applicable, state what your expected results are. (Not everyone should do this as it may bias your results; this depends on your research approach.) If applicable, make figures demonstrating projected results, such as the relationship between variables you are studying. Discuss complicating factors that you might need to consider in discussing your results (i.e., confounding variables, limitations of study, etc.).
  • Significance: Address broader impacts and intellectual merit.
  • References: Include references in bottom right-hand corner of your poster.

General Guidlines

  • Gather your poster content in the form of text, images, logos, graphs, etc.
  • If you need to scan, scanners are available in the Computer Center.


Design Tips

  • Your poster should read from Top Left to Bottom Right
  • Avoid gradient fills, they often do not print out well
  • Optimize white space for improved readbility

Using PowerPoint

We will create a single blank slide to hold the contents of our presentation

  1. Launch PowerPoint and choose Blank Slide layout
  2. Adjust the dimensions via File > Page Setup
    • Slide sized for: Choose Custom
    • Set the width to 36 in and the height to 24 in
  3. View > Guides" let you organize the page layout and snap elements guide lines

Working with Type

Choosing the right font, font size, letter spacing and paragraph alignment goes a long way to better communicate of your ideas.

  1. Use the text box icon to create a title (25 words or less)
  2. Consider using a sans serif font (without feet) for improved readability
  3. Resize the text box by grabbing an anchor
Font Sizes
  • Title: set the font size to at least 72 point font or larger for accessibility
  • Section Title: 46-56 point
  • Block Text/Body: 24 - 36 point


Printed graphics require a much higher resolution than graphics intended for the web.

  • When using images from the web, make sure to locate the highest resolution possible - avoid images saved from the web smaller than 250KB - they may print our blurry
  • only scale down, never scale up
  • Hold down the shift key when scaling to maintain aspect ratio of width and height
  • scan images at least at 300dpi
  • Do not place text over images where the background may interfere with readability
  • Use captions to identify more precisely what the image is intended to communicate
  • Position images in proper sequence or near to the text they are about


PowerPoint has a built in many shapes that can be filled with color or pattern

Arranging Objects


Some objects may need to stay grouped together

  1. Select objects to group by holding down the Shift Key and clicking on the object
  2. Right click on the selection and choose Group