Creating a Poster

We encourage you to use Adobe Illustrator to create your poster. It's an excellent graphics application that's designed for creating eye-catching print files such as academic posters. If you have never used Illustrator before, please take advantage of our free workshop, "Creating Professional-looking Conference Posters", which is offered at least once a month during the Fall & Winter terms. We also offer free downloadable templates for Illustrator to give you a big head start on creating your poster.

We support Adobe Photoshop, but it is best used for prints where images are the main focus (as in an image collage), as opposed to conference posters where text is the primary focus.

Important note regarding PowerPoint posters: We discourage the use of PowerPoint for posters. PowerPoint is designed for creating on-screen presentations and not large-format printing, and we often see problems with posters created with this application. Photographs from a digital camera may come out speckled with gray pixels, and colors may shift (blues, in particular, may become more purple).

You may be able to avoid some of the speckling problem by converting your digital photographs to the CMYK color space before inserting them into your poster. If your "fill" colors are important, please come to GroundWorks and look at the PowerPoint palette we printed, and choose your colors from that. (See "advanced user" tip #1 below.)


Tips for creating a poster

1. Try to keep working in the same platform/OS. Switching between Macs and Windows machines can cause unexpected problems, such as fonts appearing differently, or files not rendering properly.
2. Avoid large solid blocks of dark colors. Dark backgrounds can tend to print out even darker on paper. If you do go with a dark background, expect to spend a lot of time waiting for the print to dry. Dark colors might also smudge really easily. We suggest you stick with light pastel colors for a background, or go with no background at all.
3. Use a supported application to create your poster. Adobe Illustrator is the best application to use for an academic poster. We also support Photoshop and PowerPoint. If you use a different application, you'll need to save that file in EPS format. If EPS is not an option, then try TIFF or PDF -- bringing us copies in both those formats is a good idea if you can't save as EPS. Understand that you may need to troubleshoot your file elsewhere if there is a problem with the file it creates.
4. Use a graphing application to create graphs and charts. Use a program like DeltaGraph or SPSS and save your graphs as TIFF, PNG, or EPS files. Then place those images in your poster. In some cases, it's possible to create a graph or chart in Microsoft Excel and then copy & paste it into your poster file. Beware, though, that we've occasionally seen cases where the charts don't appear properly. It's worth trying, but just be sure you have enough time to deal with it if a problem does crop up.

For advanced users:

1. If you are especially concerned about color accuracy, stop by the Poster Shop and choose your colors from our palettes. It's best to select colors based on the way they actually print, not on how they look on your computer's screen. On our glossy paper, we've printed out swatches of colors from Illustrator, Photoshop, and PowerPoint so you can choose (by number) your colors and know how they'll print out. We also have printed the various versions of "maize & blue" suggested by the University of Michigan's Print Style Guidelines <
2. Resize any photos or images to the actual print size before placing them in your poster file. Particularly if you intend to use more than, say, six or seven high resolution (greater than 1600x1200 pixels) images in your poster, it's not a bad idea to resize them so that you don't have excess, unused image data in your poster file. Using many high res images just makes your poster slow to open & save, and doesn't necessarily result in better looking images. Use Photoshop to size them to the actual print size (in inches) you intend them to be on your poster, and decrease the resolution to 150dpi.

Graphics & Logos

If you would like to include the University of Michigan wordmark or Block "M" in your poster, please download an EPS or TIFF version from the University's official "logo" site <>. Look in the Graphics Toolkit section, and see the Downloads section. EPS files will give you the best printout, although a TIFF file will work if the application you are using to create your poster won't recognize EPS. Illustrator works very well with EPS files.

Avoid taking images off of web pages (like departmental logos), particularly any images that you might need to resize to make larger. Those images are in a compressed format, and will look blotchy and ugly if you stretch them out to fit on your poster. A better solution for getting a departmental logo is to talk to your department's technical people, or graphic designer, and try to get an EPS or TIFF version of the logo.