For students, faculty, and staff of the College of Natural Resources, the RS/GIS Laboratory offers large-format printing services for maps and presentation posters. In order to allow us to better serve your needs, please be aware of the following points (click for details):
Get your document to us in plenty of time
Ideally, we would like to have at least 48 hours from the time you submit your file to complete your printing request. Typically, at least 24 hours is required for us to print. There are often extenuating circumstances, however, and we are willing to work with you if we can. Just call us and we'll let you know if we can meet a shorter deadline. Please be prepared to take your document to a commercial printer in the event we can't print for you.
Microsoft Powerpoint is NOT a good program for designing posters—Publisher is better
Sorry folks, but as slick and easy as Powerpoint may be to use, it just doesn't have the robustness required to do most large-format printing. It's common for a poster to be truncated by a few inches on one side, some graphics only print partially, or the colors are not what you anticipated. So the short answer is: don't use it. There are other programs out there better suited for poster-making. The most accessible program to Powerpoint-ees is Microsoft Publisher. It behaves in a manner similar to Powerpoint in letting you place images and text boxes and arranging them how you like, but does a much better job at printing. It is already included in some versions of Microsoft Office, but if yours doesn't have it, it isn't very expensive to purchase. (Click here to see pricing for university licenses. Select Online Store and search for "Publisher".) Other programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator are even better at large format posters, but they typically have a much steeper learning curve. If you already know how to use them, they are definitely the way to go!
We can help fix problems, but for a fee
In spite of its problems, some people will have no choice but to use Powerpoint, for whatever reason. We are willing to work with people in this situation; however, because we often have to take time to make the poster print properly, we are under an obligation to charge you for that time. In addition to the material costs of printing, we will assess a $20.00 per hour surcharge for any editing/processing of documents, with a one-hour minimum charge.
Using non-standard or exotic fonts? Be sure to bring the font files with you
Some people like to use exotic or "artsy" fonts in their posters, and this is fine. However, we cannot guarantee that we will also have those fonts on our computers. This means that our computers will have to substitute other fonts in place of the missing ones, making the poster look completely different than the way you designed it. The simple solution: bring a copy of your font files with your poster. For Windows users, fonts are kept in a special Fonts folder, which is easily accessible through the Control Panel. To copy a particular font file, you can click and drag it to an external drive such a USB memory drive (or any other disk) the same as you would any file. For Mac users, your fonts are kept in your home directory under Library/Fonts and can be copied by clicking and dragging also.
Image format issues—TIF is better than JPG
There are many image file formats out there, like JPG, GIF, BMP, etc. In most situations, you will have little or no control over the image file format, and this is not really a big deal. However, if you are creating the images yourself, such as scanning pictures to use in your poster, it is generally best to use TIF (Tagged Image File Format). Many people ask us about WMF (Windows Meta File) format when they generate graphs and charts, and we have mixed feelings about them. Sometimes they work great, sometimes they don't. It might not hurt to save another copy of each WMF graphic in a different format (like TIF) just in case there are problems.
Image quality issues—Resizing is usually bad
It's so easy to get photos from the web, but we often aren't aware of quality problems until it comes time to print. One basic rule of thumb: avoid resizing images. For example, if you find a one-inch by one-inch photo on the web, don't place it in your design program and stretch the photo to 8 inches by 8 inches. This doesn't work well because it makes your photo look coarse and blocky when it's printed (and that's just tacky). Try to find another image that is closer to the size you want for the sake of quality. If you are exporting graphics or scanning photos, go with at least a 300 dpi, or dots per inch. Some programs use ppi, which is pixels per inch, and in this case you want no less than 150 ppi. Most screen captures or web graphics live at 72ppi, and this is only tolerable if you follow the advice above—don't resize!