Announcing transition of service

This summer, poster printing services are being moved from the Libraries to Academic Support staff, and the submission form is being moved to GrinnellShare. Please be patient during this transition, which we plan to have complete before the fall semester.

How to get your poster printed during the transition

  • To have a College-sponsored poster printed, please call the Academic Support staff in the science division office, ext. 3172. Summer hours are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F.
  • To have a personal poster printed, please call Premier Printing at 236-7800.

Quick Links

Quick Tips

  • PowerPoint and Adobe PDF are preferred formats.
  • Complete the entire poster on a single platform. Switching from PC to Mac or Mac to PC invites disaster, sometimes in the form of lost image files, distorted graphs or printing problems.  To help minimize errors, Mac users are encouraged to insert pictures via the ‘Insert’ menu (not copy/paste). Mac users are also encouraged to save their posters as PDFs.
  • 1st Set Page/slide size on Design Tab.
  • Grinnell Logo files located in Dropbox for your use.
  • Avoid using text copied from other documents as it may not enlarge well.
  • Make sure all content is within boundaries of page and/or text boxes.  Resize text boxes as needed.
  • Consider the purpose of hyperlinks and how they will print.  Try removing the hyperlinks and using underlined text instead.
  • There is now a folder of Grinnell Logo files in the PosterDropBox to help insure accuracy of content and color.  \\storage\PROJECTS\PosterDropBox\Grinnell Logo files
  • Colored backgrounds require additional resources and are discouraged.  Consider how important it is to the quality of your poster.  Posters with cream colored and light gray backgrounds use more ink than white backgrounds.
  • Save poster to your computer and then place a copy in PosterDropBox (or drag and drop).  Do not use ‘Save As’ to save to this location.
  • Full instructions, sample templates, and printing costs are below. 
  • Departmental Academic Support Assistants may be available to help with poster creation and requesting.

Making Posters: Printing Large-Formats On The GIS_PLOTTER

The Grinnell College Libraries' DesignJet 1050C plotter is great for making large-format posters. Since the plotter was acquired in the fall of 2001, it has been used to print posters for students, faculty and nearly every department for poster sessions and other presentations. Demand for academic posters increased by 40% in the 09-10 academic year. The plotter can be selected from only a few computers on campus and can be released from its paused state from only three computers. The reason for this is to avoid mistakes resulting in unwanted posters. Staff with experience creating and printing posters are available to help you. To help ensure that you have your poster when you need it, let staff know a couple days in advance that you want to print a poster. If you have a large batch of posters to print (more than 2 or 3) please give us at least one week’s notice. Staff are available to print posters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Posters for academic projects have highest priority. Following are instructions to help you use the GIS_Plotter.


Posters are limited to 36 inches on one dimension [the width of the paper feed on the plotter] and between 10 inches to approximately 8 feet on the other dimension. Currently the library stocks two choices of 36-inch paper-- coated [“regular”] or glossy [“photo-like”].


Basic charges for posters are:

  • $10 coated 36" paper, up to 48" in length
  • $15 glossy 36" paper, up to 48" in length, with $5 extra for colored backgrounds/multiple images.
  • $3 per additional foot of length, either paper

Provide an account number, or you may pay by cash or check when you pick up your posters. Pick them up at the Burling Circulation Desk. Patrons printing posters for personal use will pay an extra $5 per poster and 7% sales tax.

Making a Poster

Posters can be created in a variety of software packages, but need to be submitted as PowerPoint or PDF files. Publication software, such as Microsoft Publisher, is not suitable for poster printing. The science department has developed a recommended PowerPoint template (instructions below) for its students and faculty to use. Basics for anyone using PowerPoint include the following: A poster is made from a single slide. In PowerPoint, choose "blank presentation" for the greatest flexibility.

  • Select an auto-layout; the blank choice offers greatest flexibility.
  • Go to “Page Setup (on the Design tab in Windows, PowerPoint 2007; or in the File drop-down menu on a Mac, PowerPoint 2008).
  • From the drop-down menu for "Slides sized for," select "Custom."
  • Choose portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Set the dimensions of your poster, remembering that one dimension must be limited to 36 inches.
  • After closing the page setup box, your layout space will be shown as white on the gray background. Rulers at the top and left show the dimensions you’ve chosen. Make sure all the elements on your poster are within the layout dimensions before you print; anything outside these dimensions will not appear on your poster.
  • From the "Insert" menu, you can add to your layout text boxes and pictures from files..
  • A white box on the lower right status bar (Windows) or upper right toolbar (Mac) shows either a percentage or a description of current zoom level. As you are working, you should check how your poster elements will look at 100% (the actual size on the printed poster). This is especially important for images that could be unacceptable when enlarged. Before you print, zoom to "fit" to see the entire poster in the layout.

How you design your poster will affect the ease with which you can print it, how long printing will take, and the cost. High-resolution photos and detailed graphs can add substantially to the size of your file. Large files will be slow to print. Colored backgrounds take longer to print and may cost extra because they use a lot of ink.  Generic Poster Template

Printing To The Plotter
  • Academic Support Assistants can help you with the process.
  • Save a copy of your file to \\Storage\Projects\PosterDropBox, then use our Poster Printing Webform to let us know it is there.
  • Files are deleted from this folder after being printed.
  • The webform will ask what size you want your poster to be. One dimension is limited to 36” (the width of the paper). Include the account number to be charged, if applicable, and your choice of coated [regular] or glossy [photo] paper. Posters printed on the glossy paper fade faster, if that is a concern.
  • You will be notified when your poster has been printed. Posters can be picked up at the Burling Library circulation desk.
Scheduling Your Posters
  • Single posters: We print posters when we can, so allow at least 2 days for printing.
  • Groups of posters: If you have more than 2 or 3 posters to print, please use our Poster Scheduling Webform to notify us so we can determine whether printer time is available when you need it. Mid-semester, end-of-semester, and Family Weekend are particularly busy times!
  • Printing services are not available on evenings or weekends.

Generic Poster Template

Creating a Poster Using Science Template [Powerpoint]

Following are instructions from the Science Division for students using its poster template. Included are some tips that could be helpful to all who are designing posters using PowerPoint. Email Allison Vosburg with problems or questions or call her at x3169. Your poster will be created on a single slide in PowerPoint. A template is available at \\Storage\Projects\Bio\Bio 150; open the file and “save as” to your computer or network account. Students creating a poster for class or Science Division poster session please do not alter the Page Setup size unless your instructor has asked you to. The templates are set up for the correct poster size (36x46) for our display boards.

Zooming In and Out While Working On Your Poster File
  • Zoom out (SMALLER %) for placing larger items,
  • Zoom in (LARGER %) for viewing smaller text.
  • (Windows, PowerPoint 2007) Find the Zoom display at the bottom of the PowerPoint window (displayed as %). Use the slider to change the zoom level; the line in the center is 100%. Or you can quickly change the zoom level to see the entire poster by clicking on the four-arrowed icon (“Fit slide to current window”) to the right of the zoom slider bar.
  • (Mac, PowerPoint 2008) Find the zoom display on the standard toolbar (displayed as %). Use the pull-down menu from the small arrow just to the right of the zoom display to choose a different percentage; you can also choose “Fit” from the list to see the entire file.
Recommended Sizes For Poster Text
  • Title:  90-120 pt
  • Author & adviser: 72-90 pt
  • Headers:  around 60 pt
  • Text:  18-24 pt
Inserting Images

From the Insert menu, choose Picture. You can then browse and select the image to insert. Common types of images you can insert: JPG, GIF, BMP, TIF, and EPS. One may also Copy images from other sources, then Paste into your open poster file. Mac Users: please do not drag image files into your PowerPoint slide; please Insert or Copy instead. Dragging may cause printing problems – the file must be sent to the printer from a PC. Inserting a graph from Excel: Select a graph in Excel and Copy it. There are two ways to Paste the graph in PowerPoint: either Paste, or Paste Special (as a picture). The differences are: 1) you can edit a pasted graph by double-clicking on it, but occasionally the graph does not print correctly on the plotter; 2) you cannot edit the picture of your graph (Paste Special), but it may print better, especially if you need to resize it very much within PowerPoint.

Making Tables

Tables created in Word

  • straight-forward - just Copy from Word and Paste into PowerPoint.

Data from Excel

  • First Copy the cells, then do one of the following:
    • Click in an empty area of your poster so nothing is selected, and Paste. A table with your data will be created. (It will probably appear in the center of the poster; so if it looks like nothing was pasted, zoom out or scroll around!) You can still edit and format the data, though it is no longer an Excel object.
    • Paste Special, as an Excel object.
    • Paste Special, as a picture. Becomes a non-editable image; easily resized.
    • Place your cursor in an area of text, and paste. Data becomes a single line of text, with a SPACE between the contents of each cell. This is probably the least useful method.

Table from scratch:

From the Insert menu, choose Table. You will be able to specify the numbers of rows and columns. You will have to resize the table, because PowerPoint makes it very large! If it is not resizing easily, you can decrease the font size while the table is selected, and try the resizing handles again. Alternately, you can create the table in Word, Copy the table, and Paste it into PowerPoint and it will retain a more reasonable size and most formatting.  

Aligning objects:

This is helpful if you have several images or text boxes and you want their top edges (or right edges, or centers, etc.) to be lined up with each other. First you need to select multiple objects by holding down the SHIFT key while you click on each object, then following these instructions to align them: (Windows, PowerPoint 2007) In the Format tab (may be Drawing Tools Format tab or Picture Tools Format tab, depending on the types of objects selected), there will be a grouping named “Arrange”. Choose the Align icon and the various alignment choices will be shown in a drop-down menu. (Mac, PowerPoint 2008) You will need to have the Drawing Toolbar open: from the View menu, point to Toolbars, and if Drawing doesn’t have a check mark next to it, select Drawing to open it. Then from the Drawing toolbar, click the Draw icon, point to “Align or Distribute”, and choose the command you want.

Printing a Letter-Size Preview of Your Poster

Choose Print from the File menu or Office Button (don't use the shortcut on the toolbar). In the print dialog box, check the box for “Scale to fit paper”, and then OK/Print. When your poster is ready for the final large-format printing, please save the file on the storage server according to your instructor’s directions, or use the “PosterDropBox” folder on the PROJECTS server and notify Stephanie Peterson  

For Assistance

Disclaimer: Poster-printing on the GIS_Plotter is a service for members of the Grinnell College campus community. Posters for academic purposes have first priority, followed by posters for college-sponsored events. Staff time permitting, the Academic Support will sometimes print, at the charges specified above, personal posters for employees of the college, as well as posters related to community-service events and activities in the City of Grinnell.  Academic Support reserves the right to limit the number of posters made for college employees and for community-service events and activities. Under no circumstances may the GIS_Plotter be used to print posters advocating candidates in elections--either for on-campus offices or for public office. Neither may the printer be used for commercial purposes.