• Lee Yan Marquez

How to: Scientific Poster Powerpoint Template

Updated: Jul 11, 2019

If you're here, you must be looking for some instructions on how to use the Meakins-Christie Powerpoint poster templates. So here are a few things to note before you start:

Available formats

There are 5 poster template formats:

  • Square

  • 4:3 (landscape)

  • ISO-based

  • 4:3 (portrait)

  • 2:1 (landscape)

For this How-to, we will be using the 4:3 (landscape) format which is fairly similar to the ISO-based and Square formats.

The templates are PPTX files and are editable. Each template has two slides: the first slide is a cover, while the second slide is the template itself.

The Cover

Screenshot of Scientific Poster template - 4:3 (landscape)
Cover Slide - Scientific Poster template - 4:3 (landscape)

The cover includes the following:

  • A screenshot of the template Shows how the template should appear when you first open it.

  • Poster size information Lists which print sizes are possible.

  • Features Indicates how much content can fit into the template.

  • Link to this page In case you need to review these steps.

The Template

Template Slide - Scientific Poster template - 4:3 (landscape)
Template Slide - Scientific Poster template - 4:3 (landscape)

The template has two sections:


  • Lab logo The current Meakins-Christie logo.

  • Title Use Title Case when adding your Title.

  • Author byline Up to 6 authors - or more if using first and middle initials.

  • Lab information Do not modify.

  • McGill, MUHC logos Do not modify.


  • Heading A grouped element comprised of the heading text and a single line. A heading denotes a section, and should not be confused with the Header.

  • Text Each text block indicates the number of words and characters that it can accommodate.

  • Placeholder Use this to place figures and images.

  • Acknowledgments Includes the Meakins-Christie and FRSQ logos; mentions the J.T. Costello Memorial Research Fund. Can be modified to include the CIHR logo.

Now that's we've got that out of the way, let's begin.


Step 01: Select the right template

First determine how much content you need to place. A word counter can help you estimate how much text you have. As for figures, most templates have 5 placeholders, while the 2:1 (landscape) has 6 placeholders.

You should also consider the prescribed board or recommended poster sizes of the conference where you will be presenting.

Here's a handy table to help you make your choice:

Words Figures Columns Template

1,850 + 5 2 Square 1,024 + 6 4 2:1 (landscape)

760 + 5 3 4:3 (portrait)

715 + 5 3 ISO (landscape) 670 + 5 3 4:3 (landscape)

Mind that there is no perfect template, and you should choose one that is reasonably close, and then make the necessary changes which will be covered in Step 06.

Step 02: Download the template

All templates are stored at under the heading Meakins-Christie Laboratories Poster Templates.

Note that for every template there are two files provided, for instance 4:3 (landscape) includes:

  • 4x3-landscape

  • 4x3-landscape_grid

The first one is a Powerpoint PPTX file, while the second is a GIF file containing a grid which can be used to adjust the layout.

At this point, we won't be requiring the GIF file, just the PPTX.

Click on the Download button beside 4x3-landscape. Afterwards, open the template using Powerpoint Office365 and Save a copy on your machine or network drive.

If you are downloading a template to a shared folder, you can avoid overwriting files by renaming your files using a naming convention approved by your unit.

Step 03: Inspect the template

While care has been taken to ensure that the template will look consistent by using only safe fonts like Palatino and Corbel, different Powerpoint versions or customized font settings on your machine may affect how text is displayed.

So before you proceed, look carefully at the screenshot on the cover slide and compare it to the template slide. If the template differs significantly from the screenshot, e.g., part of the text is misaligned or missing, you will need to adjust the font size or space between lines.

Step 04: Add your text

After inspecting your template and making sure that the elements are displaying properly, you can begin adding your text.

If your text is in Word, take the time to strip out all the formatting first, otherwise embedded styles may override the template.

To do this, paste your content into a plain text editor such as WordPad or TextEdit before copying and pasting into the template. Start with the text in the Header, such as the Title and Author Byline before moving onto the Section Headings.

Paste in the title from Notepad or TextEdit
Paste in the title from Notepad or TextEdit

Each heading is a group comprised of text and a single line. To edit the heading text, double-click over the text until it is highlighted before making any changes.

If you have less than 8 sections, feel free to remove or edit sections that are not relevant, except for Acknowledgments.

After updating your headings, you can start pasting in your content into the text blocks.

In this example, the Hypothesis and Objectives sections were removed to make way for a really long Introduction
In this example, the Hypothesis and Objectives sections were removed to make way for a lengthy Introduction

To ensure that you do not accidentally include filler text, click inside each text block and select all the text first (Windows: CTRL+A; Mac: CMD+A) before pasting. Don't worry if there are large gaps or if there is too much text - we will address this later.

Step 05: Add your figures

Click on one of the image placeholders then right-click until you see the option Change Picture, then navigate to the image that you would like to place on the poster.

While it's possible to add figures directly to the template, it's best to use the image placeholders as they are scaled to fit the columns. If you need to place additional images, copy and paste the appropriate placeholders before replacing them.

Also, remember that you will be producing a vector-based PDF, so if you are using vector-based illustrations or charts in SVG format, the printed poster should look just as crisp as it does on template. However, this is not necessarily true if you are using pixel-based images.

For pixel-based image files such as PNG, JPG, JPEG, TIFF, or BMP, please ensure that they are high resolution (at least 300 dpi) otherwise the images will appear blurred once the poster is printed.

Step 06: Make adjustments

After you've added in your content, drag the anchors of any text box that has too little or too much text to prevent elements from overlapping on your template.

Do not adjust the logos in the header or in the Acknowledgments section.
Poster with content added but before adjustments
Poster with content added but before adjustments

If you find that there are gaps, or if any of your text boxes are overlapping, then you will need to re-align your elements. This is where the GIF file 4x3-landscape_grid comes in, so go ahead and download it. You will use this as a background image to help guide where you place your elements.

Start by hovering your mouse pointer over an area of the slide with no elements and right-click. You should see an option to Format Background. If you click this, a panel will appear on the right with several options: choose Picture or texture fill and click Insert picture from File...

Navigate to the folder where you stored your latest download and select 4x3-landscape_grid.gif. Your template should now have a grid appearing behind the elements.

At this point, feel free to move any text or figures so that they align with the grid's squares or the gaps in between. You can re-size text blocks and other elements by dragging on the anchor points, but you must take care not to distort any figures or images.

To ensure that your images are not distorted when resizing, hold down the Shift key while dragging on an anchor point.

Once you're done, Format the background again, but this time choose Solid fill and specify the colour white to remove the grid.

Elements re-aligned, with and without the grid background
Elements re-aligned, with and without the grid background

Step 07: Check your poster and save the PDF

If you've made all the changes and adjustments and are happy with your poster, you can remove or delete the cover slide.

Remove the first slide before creating your PDF to avoid accidentally printing it.

Depending on how your printer preferences are set up, you can either Print or Export as a PDF. You can also print a small version of your poster so you can find any typos or errors that you may have missed onscreen.

#Powerpoint #research #scientific #poster #UX #HowTo #GraphicDesign

Lee-Yan Marquez is a designer and writer who loves solving problems. Ask her to make something for you.

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