General tips on using the Poster printer can be found here, including instructions on how to set up your laptop to print to the poster printer. Software options are described below.


Take care to note the size limitation of our poster printer: we can only print posters 42“ wide at the moment, with a recommended margin of 0.5”. Given the usual AAS space limitation of 44“ by 44”, this means that the maximum usable area of a AAS poster wil be 41“ by 43”. If you make your poster two inches shorter, you get a 1:1 aspect ratio with a poster content area that's 41“ by 41” (that way, you also don't have to worry about printing your poster landscape or portrait).

In addition, the poster printer appears to want to have at least an inch of blank space before it starts printing any ink, so one of the 42“ sides of your poster will be printed with that buffer. (If you have a blank margin, it counts toward that buffer, so if you use half-inch margins, it will appear that one side of your poster comes out with a margin of 1”.) You might want to factor this into your layout. Of course, there's nothing stopping you from trimming the padding area off of your poster once it's printed.

Using Keynote on Macs

  1. First, make sure that your Mac is set up to print to the Poster printer via Samba, following the instructions linked to above.
  2. Open up a new Keynote file
  3. On the File Menu, select Page Setup. From the Format For drop-down, pick the Poster printer. That should make various large paper sizes show up in the Paper Size drop-down; pick ARCH E. Then pick Landscape or Portrait orientatin as you see fit.
  4. Setting the paper size doesn't affect the actual size of the slide. To do that, you need to use the Inspector. Select the first tab, then click the slide size drop-down and pick “Custom Slide Size”. Keynote assumes 72 pixels per inch, so multiply your desired poster size by 72 and enter that for the slide size height and width.
  5. Now make your poster!

Note that Keynote will insert a white margin around your poster when you go to print it, so you don't need to put a border around things when designing your poster. You can put objects right up to the very edge of the slide and they will still print OK.

Using Powerpoint

(These instructions work for Microsoft Office 2004 on Mac OSX 10.4 (Tiger). Other versions of Powerpoint may differ.)

A sure-fire method for printing posters made in Powerpoint is to save your file as a PDF, then print.

  • In Powerpoint, go to the Page Setup menu (under File) and set your page size to the size of your actual poster. Wise students will do this at the very beginning to create and edit their poster as straightforwardly as possible. If you plan to use the department poster printer, don't exceed 47 x 35 inches.
  • When your final version is ready in Powerpoint, pull down the Print menu. Before saving to PDF, you need to telegraph the desired page size to the printing interface (this may seem redundant with the step above, but both are necessary).
  1. In the Print menu, hit the Page Setup button.
  2. When the Page Setup menu pops up, hit Options (do this even if the proper dimensions are already displayed).
  3. If this is your first time printing a poster from Powerpoint, you will have to create a custom page size. Under Paper Size, scroll down to Manage Custom Sizes. A new menu should appear.
  4. Hit the “+” button to create a new size. Enter the desired dimensions and give the size a name. If you leave room around the edges in your initial poster design, you can safely set all margins to 0 here.
  5. After saving your custom size, select it from the Paper Size menu. Hit OK.
  6. Assuming your page dimensions are still what you want in Page Setup, hit OK to return to the print menu. If a warning message pops up (usually Powerpoint worrying that you will try to print your poster-size paper on a letter-size printer), hit OK.
  7. In the Print menu, hit PDF and scroll to Save as PDF. Save your poster.
  • Now you can open and print the PDF.
  1. To check that you got the page size right, open the PDF with Adobe Reader or another application. Your whole poster should be there, and should be appropriately large at 100% zoom. Now is also the time to check that images, layout, etc. have translated properly from Powerpoint to PDF.
  2. Pull down the Print menu. Select the poster printer (assuming you already have it installed).
  3. Click on Properties and change page size to Arch E. Change orientation as necessary (details here).
  4. Back in the Print menu, the Page Scaling option may have changed to “Fit to Printer Margins.” This should be fine.
  5. Print your poster! The printer will slice off your poster when it is done. Don't try to pull it out beforehand!

Using LibreOffice or OpenOffice or StarOffice

Note: OpenOffice just seems to get worse and worse; if you don't need much hand-holding, it may be worthwhile to try making your poster using the program Scribus, described in the next section. Also, due to boring politics your office suite may now be called LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice. For now, they're effectively identical.

You can make print-quality posters using entirely Free software, embedding EPS figures natively and images at high resolution. These instructions have been tested on recent Fedora distributions with OpenOffice 3. They also worked on OpenOffice 2.4 last year. They should work with any non-ancient Linux distribution and OpenOffice > 2.4, but, as always in Linux-land, your mileage may vary. These instructions are still a work in progress.

As in the above examples, we'll assume that you're creating your poster in a PowerPoint-type program. In Linux, the closest analogue is OpenOffice Impress.

  1. Create a new blank presentation in Impress.
  2. Set the page size to the size of your poster. This is typically under Format > Page… in the menus. The paper format will be User, and your dimensions will be something like 36“ by 43” with margins of 0.5“ all around. Set the page orientation to Portrait if your poster will indeed by taller than it is wide. If there is no “User” page format available, you need a newer version of OpenOffice.
  3. Do your poster thang. To import EPS graphics or bitmap images, use Insert > Picture > From File…. Your EPS images will look crappy, but don't worry. That's just the low-quality preview.
  4. To make a printable version of your poster, select File > Print …
    1. For Impress version ⇐ 3.0:
      1. Choose the Print to File destination.
      2. Choose the output format to be PostScript
      3. Choose an appropriate destination directory and filename for your poster.
      4. Go to the Properties tab and change the paper size to “ARCH E” and the orientation to match the orientation of your poster.
      5. Hit OK.
    2. For Impress version 3.1:
      1. Choose the poster printer as your destination. If you're not on a computer on the Berkeley network, you'll need to create a fake poster printer so that Impress will let you choose the correct page size. This was easy to do on Fedora 12 by making up a network printer with a fake hostname. The department's poster printer is an HP DesignJet 5500ds.
      2. Click the Print to File checkbox! Otherwise you'll actually print your poster!
      3. Click the Properties button and change the paper size to “ARCH E” and the orientation to match the orientation of your poster.
      4. Hit OK.
      5. Choose an appropriate destination directory and filename for your poster.
    3. This step can sometimes crash Impress. I suspect that this happens if you attempt to print a complex poster on a 32-bit machine – Impress was running out of memory when I experienced this. When this happened to me, at least, I was able to successfully generate a PostScript file by copying the ODP file to my 64-bit work desktop and “printing” it (to a file) on that machine.
  5. The above will generate a very large PostScript file of your poster. It may prove to be too much for some feeble PostScript interpreters. You will probably have better luck if you convert your file to PDF.
    1. In a terminal, go to the directory containing the PostScript file you created. We'll assume it's called
    2. Process it with the aptly-named ps2pdf. Run ps2pdf -sPAPERSIZE=archE -dProcessColorModel=/DeviceCMYK -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -dColorImageFilter=/FlateEncode poster.pdf. These command-line options are pretty empirically based and are probably wanky in terms of the output quality. The documentation for ps2pdf (here for version 8.63) explains them a bit more, with the settings emulating the options described in Adobe's PDF Creation Settings documentation.
  6. Side note: OpenOffice has a tempting File > Export to PDF … menu option. However, it replaces embedded EPS figures with their previews, which gives completely unacceptable output. This is is issue #14163 and it has remained unfixed for six years.
  7. Open your PDF in your favorite viewer program to check that all is well.
  8. There are probably multiple ways to print your poster successfully. One that works for me is to open the PDF in AcroRead and just print to poster.

Using Scribus

FIXME Scribus is an open-source desktop publishing (DTP) program that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It seems promising for poster-making, since it supports nice things like linked text boxes, and it's oriented around producing maximal-quality PDF output, which is perfect for posters. If anyone tries making posters with it, a summary of helpful hints would be great.

Poster Design

Some poster design resources:

  • There are, of course, a lot of examples in the hallways. Many of them are bad examples.
  • This page has good suggestions and is entertaining, though it's aimed at a biology audience.
  • If you want to put a UC seal on your poster, you can download official versions from the UC Berkeley identity website.

Advanced Topics

The poster printer is a 42-inch HP DesignJet 5500 DS. A large and poorly-formatted user manual on the HP website can be found here.

Resolution. According to the docs, in the highest-quality mode it outputs 600×600 DPI; in the lower modes, it does 300×300. If the “Enhanced IQ” mode is enabled, you can get 1200×600 DPI.

Colors. It is probably not feasible to get really accurate color reproduction in posters – it's unlikely that anyone here has a colorimetrically calibrated monitor. The printer manual has a good deal of information on accurate color calibration if anyone is interested in this topic.