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Poster Production: Graphics and Photos

Information about creating your own posters and presentations.

Using Graphics and Photos

mortar and  pestle, graph and hospital room images combinedYou will likely want to use a number of images and graphics to take advantage of the visual format of the poster. Below are some general guidelines about how to add those elements to your poster and use them effectively to get your message across to your audience.

Graphics Guidelines

  • Graphs communicate relationships quickly.
  • Graphs should be simple and clean with a resolution of at least 1024 X 768, if possible.
  • Stick to simple 2-D line graphs, bar charts, and (if you must) pie charts.
  • Avoid 3-D graphs unless you're displaying 3-D data.
  • Be sure to follow text guidelines (see Layout and Text Guidelines page) for graphs.
  • Use photos that help deliver your message
  • Use clip art - but not too much - to attract attention

Graphs and charts may be created within PowerPoint, or imported from another application or a Web source. (Microsoft provides a basic overview of how to add charts to your PowerPoint slides, that is worth reviewing.)

Photos may be taken by you, a friend or from a Web source. Please note the following guidelines:

  • JPEGs, TIFFs, PNGs and GIFs are acceptable image formats.
  • Please do not use Bitmaps as the files are too large.
  • Both color and black & white images are fine to use.
  • Get permission from outside people to use their photo.

Finding Material on the Internet

A large number of photos and clip-art files are available on the internet, but two caveats must be observed:

  1. A large number of the images obtainable from internet searches are too small to be usable in large-scale printing.  You will generally want to work with files that are of a resolution of at least 1024x768. Many internet graphics are much smaller.
  2. Most of the images you will find on the internet are copyrighted and may not be usable for your work without permission.

However, it is possible to find images that are large enough to look good on your poster that are free to use. A good tool is Google Images (available at which has tools for filtering images for both size of file and reuse rights (See graphic below for directions on how to access these filters.)

Graphic: Filtering for image size and usage rights on Google Images

Google images screengrab showing Tools button

Step 1: After doing initial keyword search, click on the Tools button at the top right.

Google Images screengrab showing exapnded file size drop-down menu

Step 2: Click on drop-down menu labeled "Size." Choose "Large."

Google search with usage rights options displayed

Step 3: Select "Usage Rights." Creative Commons licenses will generally be free to use in your work, so filter by that option. Please note that you should always look at the actual license associated with image before using it, as these filters aren't always perfect.

Additionally, there are a number of other websites that allow you to search for free images that would be available for use in your poster. Among them are:

As always, be sure to check the licensing to be sure the images are free (Creative Commons Licenses are recommended) and make sure the images are big enough to use in your poster (resolutions larger than 1024 x 768 are desirable). Anything under copyright will require permission and references will be required for all images.

Working with images in PowerPoint:

Once you have collected your images, the following tutorial (created by the Goodwill Community Foundation) shows you how they can be added to your slides,moved, and resized to fit your project's needs:






Useful Links

Good source of medical images, including a number of websites with free-to-use content

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