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Why Convert?

PhD Posters converts all PowerPoint files to PDFs before printing, because PowerPoint files don't always print the way they look on-screen. About 30% of PowerPoint files encounter problems when moved from one computer to another -- graphics disappear or misprint, text and labels shift position, Greek letters vanish. If you submit any PowerPoint files, we will cheerfully convert them to PDF "digital proofs" for you to review before we print the final poster. This will, however, delay shipment of your order by at least one day.

The good news is that it's easy for you to convert your PowerPoint to a PDF before submitting it. It's free, it doesn't take long, and it means you'll receive your poster at least 24 hours sooner. Plus, you'll save a little extra money on your order!

PDF files print exactly as they appear on screen, but to ensure top quality, it's important to follow the instructions below. Also, please carefully check the quality of all your figures, etc. before submitting the file. We have instructions available for both Windows and Mac:

You should also read our tips for proofing the final PDF.

Instructions for Windows

Making a PowerPoint into a PDF is downright easy these days. These instructions were developed with Microsoft PowerPoint 2007. (older version?)

  1. From PowerPoint, click the "Office" button.
  2. Hover over "Save File", move the mouse to "Adobe PDF" and click.
  3. Choose "Optimize for: Standard (publishing online and printing)"
  4. Confirm the file name and folder, then save.
  5. The PDF should open automatically once it has been created, and you should proof carefully before submitting.

Instructions for Mac OS X

Making a PowerPoint into a PDF is easy on the Mac too. These instructions were developed with Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2016. (need 2008 or 2004 instead?)

  1. Click on the "File" menu, then "Export".
  2. Under "File Format", choose "PDF".
  3. Confirm file name and folder, then click "Save".
  4. To proof the PDF before submitting, please find the file in the folder you saved the PDF to.

Tips for proofing your PDF file

Please proof your new PDF carefully before submitting! PowerPoint is famous for not printing things exactly as they appear on screen:

  • Do any of your graphics look grainy or pixelated in the PDF? Even if they were OK in PowerPoint, they could have been degraded during the conversion. Zoom in on the PDF so each one fills the screen in turn; you can't judge image quality from the whole-poster overview. Make sure they were at least 150 dpi to start with.
  • Do your graphics look the way they're supposed to? Problems with embedded Visio drawings, Excel charts, etc can often be solved by converting them to images.
  • Is the PDF file about the same size (number of bytes) as the original PowerPoint file? If it's less than a tenth the size, check very carefully to make sure image quality wasn't degraded.
  • If you used Greek letters, did they print correctly? "Symbol" font is usually a safe choice.
  • Is any of your text clipped or obscured? Try making sure PowerPoint text boxes are no larger than the text they contain, and don't max out slide size (56").
  • Is your text positioned correctly with respect to other page elements, like box borders and chart axes?
  • Does the poster have big white margins? We can usually remove them for you prior to printing.

PowerPoint 2003 - Windows

Windows doesn't come with a "print to PDF" function, so you'll need either Adobe Acrobat (Pro or Standard) or Adobe Distiller. (The free Adobe Reader won't work.) If you don't have Acrobat, there's a free 30-day trial of Acrobat Pro you can download from Adobe. (At Duke, Acrobat Standard is also sold for $99 in the campus computer store.) These instructions were developed with Windows 2000, PowerPoint 2000, and Acrobat 7 Pro.

  1. From PowerPoint, choose File | Print. Choose "Adobe PDF" as the printer, and press the Properties button.
  2. Under "Quality Settings", choose "High Quality Print", then press the Edit button.
  3. If you're concerned about color accuracy, go under Color (on the left-hand side) and choose "Convert to CMYK" and "Relative colorimetric". This makes sure all colors are ones that can actually be reproduced on paper.
  4. Under Images (also on the left-hand side), set Downsampling to "Off" for all image types. This ensures no resolution will be lost from your figures and photos.
  5. Click OK, or save these settings under a new name for future use.
  6. (Optional) Printing the PDF as an 8.5" x 11" page will produce white margins, which we will remove before printing. But if you'd prefer to create a perfect fit yourself, add a new page size that matches the dimensions of your poster. In some cases we find it helps to scale the dimensions down to fit on letter-sized paper:

    Actual poster sizeAcrobat letter size
    42" x 36"9.92" x 8.50"
    48" x 42"9.71" x 8.50"
    60" x 42"11.0" x 7.70"
    72" x 42"11.0" x 6.42"
    84" x 42"11.0" x 5.50"
    96" x 42"11.0" x 4.81"

  7. Say OK to Adobe setup, then click Properties to bring it up again. Sometimes it doesn't take the first time -- couldn't tell you why, though. Check to make sure the settings stuck, then click OK again.
  8. Select "Scale to Fit Paper" and "High Quality" in the PowerPoint print dialog and press OK to create your PDF. Proof carefully and submit the resulting file to PhD Posters!

PowerPoint 2008 - Mac OS X

Making a PowerPoint into a PDF is easy on the Mac. These instructions were developed with Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2008.

  1. Click on the "File" menu, then "Print."
  2. Tick the box that says "Scale to Fit Paper."
  3. The preview box will readjust, then click on the PDF dropdown menu (bottom left of Print screen).
  4. Select the first option to "Save as PDF". Confirm file name and folder, then click "Save".
  5. Confirm that you would like to change the extension from ".ppt" to ".pdf".
  6. To proof the PDF before submitting, please find the file in the folder you saved the PDF to.

PowerPoint 2004 - Mac OS X

Mac OS X has a built-in "print to PDF" function that works from any application, so we'll use that to convert our PowerPoint file. These instructions were developed with Mac OS X 10.4.5 and PowerPoint 2004.

  1. Under File | Page Setup | Options, format for "Any Printer" and create a custom paper size that matches the final printed size of your poster (e.g. 48" x 42"). Always put the larger dimension in height and the smaller in width; final orientation of your poster will be determined by the Portrait / Landscape setting instead. Use the full final printed size even if you designed your PowerPoint slide at half size. Set all margins to 0 to avoid white borders on your poster.
  2. Under File | Print, change "Copies & Pages" to "Paper Handling", then under "Destination Paper Size", select "Scale to Fit Paper".
  3. Press the "PDF" button at the bottom of the print dialog, and choose "Save as PDF". Proof carefully and submit the resulting file to PhD Posters!

Bug Alert: Using Mac OS 10.5 to convert a PowerPoint file to PDF (via "Print to PDF...") will give a file that does not print properly. We suggest submitting the original PowerPoint file in this case. Other versions of OS X (including 10.4 and 10.6) and conversions made with Acrobat are not affected.