PowerPoint’s Purple Problem

blues are purple in PowerPoint

PowerPoint Colors

There’s a problem with some printers giving you blues that look more like purple when you print from PowerPoint. The reason is that PowerPoint works in the RGB color space, and the interpretation of RGB into the CMYK colors that a printer uses is not always what it should be.

In particular, the blues at the upper right of the PowerPoint color selector can print in a color that is very different from your screen.


We’ve solved this problem with special color profiles for our printers, and we get really good blues these days. It’s bad enough to have the blues! If you are getting purple posters from your printer, we can fix that.

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What Really Happens at a Poster Session

display posters at a conference

research poster session

So, a poster session is where everyone exchanges ideas about your area of science, right? Well, sure.

But there’s also something else happening that you should be aware of: people are cruising the conference for talent.

If you think about it, where better to talk to a large number of people in your field, see what kind of research they have done, and make a fast judgement of whether they might be someone you’d like to hire. If you are the Chief Science Officer of a company, you are going to be at the conference anyway! It’s a great place to shop for people.

What’s that mean to you? First of all, having a great looking poster, professionally done, is a must. Think about (gasp) wearing a tie. Finally, someone asking about your research topic may have in interest in you as well as your research. Do a little selling- of yourself!

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Putting Type in a Photo

legible type in a photo

Type in a Photo

Putting type in a poster photo can be problematic, since the photo can vary from light to dark. Dark type can’t be seen in dark areas, and vice-versa. Often you’ll want to put type in a photo to label or explain things. Here’s my trick for doing it successfully.

First of all, set your type as yellow. Sometimes that’s all you need to do unless there are stretches of yellow in the photo. If not, get the yellow type the right size and position. Then, duplicate the text box, change the type to black, and send it backward behind the yellow type. Nudge it with the arrow keys to be a little lower and to the right to the yellow type. This gives you a drop shadow that lets the yellow type be read when it crosses a light spot in the photo.

Voila! Type that can be read no matter what the photo behind it is.

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Type and Background Color in Research Posters

poor contrast of poster type

Dark Type in
a Dark Box

One of the problems of looking at your poster on the screen is that it will often be brighter than your poster will print. That’s because your computer screen is lighted from behind, and your poster is not. Lots of people also have the brightness of their screen cranked way up.

Usually it’s not a big deal, but it can get in the way of reading black text against dark colors like blue, green, and red. In the example at the right, a customer used a background that shades from light to dark, and you can see how the text gets progressively harder to read as the background gets darker.

We fixed it by making the background a solid color of light gray, and everything was easy to read, and, frankly, the poster looked better that way. I’m not a big fan of fancy backgrounds that can detract from the content or readability of the poster.

If you really want to use a dark text box, use white or yellow type so that you have good contrast between the type and the background. That makes the type easier to read, which makes you presentation more effective. The human eye likes dark type on a white page, though, and that’s why we set our templates up that way.

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If your template download is a .zip file

OK, here’s a weird one that we have seen recently, but the good news is that it is easily solved. If you download one of our PowerPoint poster templates, it goes on your hard drive as a .zip file, and if you try to unzip it, you get a folder of junk. This happens if you are using Internet Explorer version 7 or 8.

There’s an easy fix- just change the file extension to .pptx, and you’ll have your template file good to go.

The reason is that pptx files use zip technology to compress the file. The old IE programs see that it’s a zip compressed file and decide to change the extension. You can actually disable this in IE, here’s a link to a site telling you how.

And by the way, you people out there that are still using an 8 year old version of IE, get with it!

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Matte or Gloss Lamination?

scientific poster lamination

Gloss above, Matte below

We are often asked whether matte or gloss lamination is better for a poster. The honest answer is you probably cannot go wrong with matte lamination, but gloss has its advantages too.

As you can see from the photo at the right, glossy lamination can give you trouble with glare, and matte lamination eliminates glare almost completely. In fact, the new matte lamination we started using a few years ago is so good that you’ll have a hard time telling it’s not paper.

On the other hand, glare is not usually a problem in a poster session. That’s because the lights are up high, and the poster is at eye level or below. The path of the light is not to the poster and then your eyes- the glare is directed to the floor. We make a lot of gloss laminated posters, and people are delighted with them. I also like the “wet” look that a glossy poster has because it gives the colors a lot of pop.

Lamination protects your poster too. We laminate both sides, and leave a 1/8″ sealing edge all around to give you a moisture seal. If you are going to hang the poster in your lab afterwards, lamination is an excellent idea.

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We are Megaprint.com too

megaprint.com large format printing

MegaPrint Inc.

Yes, it can be confusing sometimes. Our company is MegaPrint Inc., but when you do an online order for a research poster, it happens at postersession.com.

The reason is simple. We wanted to create a web site that just talked about our printing of scientific research posters. It’s a big part of what we do, and we didn’t want to clutter the site up with vinyl banners, trade show graphics, etc. So, we made a site that just talks about research posters.

We hope that makes things easier, and most of the time it seems like it does.

Still, people ask if we are MegaPrint or Postersession. The answer is, we are really both! When we charge your credit card, you’ll see it on your statement as MegaPrint Inc. Our emails will have a return address at megaprint.com. The rest, like your order confirmation, comes from postersesssion.com.

If we confuse you, we apologize! We did it to make things easier!

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Quality – It Matters

research poster quality

NH State House

I was in Concord last week and the foliage in front of the state house encouraged me to take a picture. But the real thing I noticed was the mess on the gold dome, which you can’t see that easily in this picture.

I remember reading a few years ago how the State had spent some huge sum having new gold leaf installed. Now it’s all peeling up.

Knowing how the state buys things, they bought the low price on a sealed bid. Meet the spec- what’s your price. In my humble opinion, that’s a lousy way to get a good job, whether it’s a gold dome or a research poster.

We pride ourselves in doing things right. Your poster will be beautiful, and it will be there on time.

We don’t buy anything on a sealed bid in our company. We look for the materials that will give us the best image, the equipment that will work flawlessly for years, and people who know what they are doing. None of them come cheap.

If you think about it, though, having a fabulous poster instead of a drab one is probably worth a few extra bucks. After all, your poster session is an important professional opportunity. Do you really want to go low bid to present the culmination of a few years of your life? My brother, a VP of Research, tells me he goes to poster sessions to scout for talent. Think about that!

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Minimum Poster Type Size

Scientific Research Poster

Research Poster Success!

A very common question we are asked is how big type needs to be on a research poster. Here’s the party line:

1. Titles should be 100 point type or larger. On our templates, we usually use 150 point type. You want to be sure people can read the title, even from a distance. 72 point type is 1″ tall from the top of a capital letter to the bottom of a y, so a typical 72 point letter is really more like a half inch.

2. Section heading should be 72 point or so.

3. Paragraph text should be a minimum of 24 point.

Note that if you set up your poster at half size, your type will be twice as large when printed.

An easy way to make sure you haven’t made a mess is to use one of our free poster templates, which have things set up in appropriate sizes.

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How Do I Design A Research Poster From Scratch?- Part 1

powerpoint poster

A happy customer.

We know that you want your poster(s) to look great when you are presenting your research. That’s where we come in!

One of our favorite stories is that of a customer who was at a conference, and knew she was going to need to produce a poster in the next month.  She walked around and asked three people standing in front of very attractive posters who had printed them. All three were printed by us! She looked no further.

If you are about to start the design of your first poster or are looking to enhance the quality of your poster – this post is for you!

First step – Choose the size of your poster.
Choosing the size of your poster is a very important and is an often over looked step in the designing process. You can put a lot of work into your poster, and then wind up doing it all over again if you pick the wrong size template. This happens a lot when a colleague shares a template with you, but it turns out to be the wrong size.

research posters

Research poster printed to be a 36″x72″

What size should my poster be?
Before you get too deep into the design of your poster we recommend checking your conference’s web site for the presentation guidelines. Once you know what size board you have available, (say a 4’x8′ which is a 48″ x 96″ poster), you will be able to decide what size you want your poster to be. While some conferences require a particular size, most will give you the board size, and it just can’t be any larger than that. We print a lot of 42″x90″ and even 36″x72″ posters for 48″x96″ boards.

If you start putting all your information onto your poster and things are starting to get too crowded, it’s pretty easy to make it larger. Just select all- (Ctrl +A), cut- (Ctrl +C) , change the page size, and paste (Ctrl + V) everything back. That will give you more room.

*Note: If you simply change the page size, PowerPoint will stretch everything to fit the new size, which not only can make things look funny, but it doesn’t give you any more room.

powerpoint templates

Free PowerPoint poster templates

I know what size I want my poster to be- Now what?
Now that you know what size you want your poster to be, it’s time to create your poster! We recommend downloading one of our Free PowerPoint templates from our site.

Next we will discuss customizing your PowerPoint template and inserting graphics.
If you have any questions feel free to give us a call (800) 590-7850.

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