PowerPoint 2007, 2010 + Poster Tutorial

Versions 2007 and 2010 of PowerPoint are quite different from the 2003 version but are quite similar to each other. Many of the features can be accessed in tabs along the top. This tutorial will continue to be a 'work in progress' as we periodically update it and become more aware of nuances and printing issues.

PPT 2007 and 2010 are designed primarily as a presentation programs to be viewed on a monitor or projection screen. Many effects, while viewable on-screen or projectable, do not always print well for us (or at all!) on a large-format printer. These features look OK on your local desktop printer as 8.5 x 11, but once the image is blown up to actual poster size, issues can develop. Some of the features which have posed printing problems include drop shadows, transparencies, 'Word Art', and mirror effects. Please note that we can not guarantee the printing of special effects created in PowerPoint. More caveats down below.

PowerPoint (PPT) 2007, 2010 + user interface

On this page we will highlight some of the basics of file setup, editing and formatting in PPT, as they pertain to poster sessions. This is by no means a comprehensive tutorial on PowerPoint, but we hope that it will be helpful to you. As we become more familiar with PPT, we will periodically update this page with with more helpful hints and potential issues.

Powerpoint's task-oriented tabs

PowerPoint's features are distributed under various task-oriented tabs, identified as 'Home', 'Insert', 'Design', etc. These tabs appear toward the top of the screen. Clicking on each tab will reveal subtasks for formating, setup, etc. Most of the basic text formatting features you need for poster design can be found under the 'Home' tab.

Page Setup

Customizing the page size (poster dimensions) is done under the 'Design' tab. Select the Design tab, go to Page Setup. Here you can adjust your custom page height and width. We recommend you set it up at actual poster size if you can. PowerPoint still limits the setup to no greater than 56" in any dimension. If your poster is to be larger, you can design the entire poster proportionally at half size and let us know to scale up 200% when printing.

Helpful hint: If you are using one of our templates, but need to adjust the dimensions a bit, make sure to adjust the Page Setup BEFORE you bring in your text, photos and diagrams. Otherwise, the photos and diagrams will likely lose their proper proportion (appear squished or distorted) when the page proportions change.

Showing guidelines and 'Snap To' settings

Guidelines are very useful for lining up text and objects and to create moveable column guides. To turn on Guidelines, right click (PCs) onto a blank portion of your poster. A pop-up will appear. Click on 'Grid and Guidelines...' Under 'Guide Settings', make sure 'Display drawing guides on screen' is checked. Turn OFF (uncheck) 'Snap to Grid'. This will allow you to nudge objects such as text boxes or images in much smaller increments.

Changing fonts, font sizes, and line and paragraph spacing.

Most text formatting can be done with the HOME tab selected. Features such as font size, color, paragraph alignment, and line and paragraph spacing can be accessed here.

We like to increase the line spacing more than the default, for better readability. A good way to adjust and fine-tune line spacing is to go to 'Line Spacing Options', then down to 'Line Spacing:' and select 'Exactly'. This allows you to adjust the line spacing by points. For example, if you have a 30 pt type size, you can make your line spacing 36 pts.

A word about text boxes.

A text box is a paragraph or a series of 'connected' paragraphs in PowerPoint. When you select a text box by clicking on it, a bounding box appears around it. Text boxes can be filled with a color and stroked with an outline, if you wish.

Shapes such as rectangles and circles are also formatted similar to a text box.

Helpful hint: If you have designed a poster in 2003 and bring it into 2007, some boxes, upon resizing, may spring back to a much smaller size when you really want to be able to pull them to a larger size. If this happens, you'll need to right-click on the box outline (when it is selected). When the pop-up appears, select 'Format Shape', then at the bottom of the list on the left, select 'Text Box'. Under 'Autofit' make sure 'Do Not Autofit' is checked.

Internal margin offset

If you want the outline of a text box to spring back to the edge of the text, you can check the 'Resize AutoShape to fit text' check box. This is particularly helpful when you're trying to line up text box margins to guidelines.


To bring the bulk of your text content into the poster from a previously-created Powerpoint slide or from a Microsoft Word document, copy, then paste it into your Powerpoint poster document. The text MUST appear editable when in PowerPoint and NOT as a graphic image. Use your text cursor to copy the text. When pasted, the text should appear in a text box. These text boxes can be adjusted in width and height by grabbing one of the eight points in the shaded selection box around your text. Text boxes can be left unfilled or they can be filled with a color.

Figures and images

Bitmap images such as photos, illustrations, X-rays, etc, should be of adequate resolution. Tiff or JPEG files should be at least 200 pixels/inch at final printed size. To import a figure in PowerPoint go to the tab Insert > Picture > From File.

Graphs can be created in PowerPoint, Excel or Word. From Excel and Word, these can be copied/pasted in most cases. WMF-Windows Metafiles can also be inserted into the file.

PowerPoint 2007+ -- Idiosyncrasies and Warnings

Not all features are printable

It is important to remember that PowerPoint was designed first and foremost to be a presentation program to be viewed on a monitor or projected to a screen and not necessarily for high-resolution printing. Many of the special effects features are viewable (projectable), but don't print well on our printer (even though they MAY print OK on an small office inkjet or laser printer. Some of these features include dropshadows, transparencies and mirror effects. Word Art may not be printable. Please note that we can not guarantee the printing of special effects created in PowerPoint 2007. As we discover more printing issues, we will update this section.

Automatic image compression (IMPORTANT!)

PowerPoint has a DEFAULT feature which compresses images (imported pictures) in a slide (or poster) upon saving, reducing them to screen resolution. While this feature keeps your file size smaller and saves space on your hard drive, what once was a high-quality image is now degraded to screen resolution and may appear very pixellated upon printing. Since this is a default feature, it will occur each time to you save your file. If you are not aware that this default has been turned on, your images will degrade upon a SAVE without your realizing it! To fix this issue you will need to make sure Automatic Image Compression has been disabled.

To disable auto compression, when you do a 'Save As', at the bottom of the dialoque box click on 'Tools'. Select the 'Compress Pictures' option. Make sure you uncheck the 'Automatically Perform Basic Compression When Save' option.

This image compression feature can occur with TIFF, JPEG, BMP and PNG images. Text resolution (within text boxes) is not affected.

For more information about this issue visit: How to Disable Image Compression in Microsoft Office 2007

Editing between versions

For some reason, we have experienced printing problems on files that have been edited in BOTH 2003 and 2007 versions. We realize with collaborative posters, this may be unavoidable. We have also seen issues when files have been shared between Mac and PC users.

Avoiding transparencies

Partially-transparent fills either print with a strange pattern or with 100% opacity, so they are to be avoided.

Charts cannot be ungrouped and tweaked.

In PPT 2003, charts brought in from Excel or created in PPT could be broken up, or ungrouped, then manually modfied. PowerPoint 2007 will not allow this.

Upon deleting an object, screen will jump to center of document

Sometimes you need to zoom way in to work on an area. If you do this, and delete an object, PowerPoint will jump to the center of the document. This can be quite annoying.