There’s a feature of PowerPoint called the master page that’s pretty handy. Here’s how it works:
Whatever you put on the master page lays below the normal view. It is locked in place unless you go to the master page by doing view>master>slide master in PowerPoint 97-2003, and view>slide master in 2007.
If you are doing a multi page presentation, the slide master allows you to put a common look for all your slides in just one place. If you need to change it, you change the master page instead of the background in 20 slides.
For a research poster, which is a single slide, the master page has a different use. It allows you to lock items that you don’t want to move around while you are arranging your slide. For instance, the columns and titles can be cut and pasted to the master page. Then, while you are putting in your charts and graphs, and moving your text boxes all around, you don’t have to worry about the boxes moving too.
Especially if you are designing a series of posters, or are giving a template to a group of students and want all of their posters to have the same look, the master page is very useful.