Own a large format plotter printer.It’s not within reach of the typical conference goer to own their own personal big printer. This price list starts at $1,400 and ends at, “More than $4,700.” I’m too scared to see how much more.
Such a printer is not out of reach as a piece of shared equipment, though. Our department shares a plotter printer with another departments. The ink, paper, and so forth is paid for by various student fees and department budget. Students and faculty alike use it.
Our university library has a second plotter poster, which is smaller than our departmental printer. They also have a policy limiting people to one free poster, of a certain size (48 inches, I think) per semester.
If you are in an institution that does not have one, try to convince people that this is a useful resource.
Hire someone to print your poster.Your first option is to go local. Check your local business directory and look either for “graphics” or “signs.”
Your second option is to use an online printing company. There are several that specialize in doing conference posters. Most are able to send you your poster by overnight courier the day after you submit it.
I’ve talked about some of the services offered by PosterSession. Their blog has inspired some posts of my own.
I’ve also recently learned about MakeSigns. Their website has a lot of resources, especially if you’re one of the many who still insist on using PowerPoint for posters. (I say again: There are better options!) In particular, they have a lot of PowerPoint templates at many different sizes.
Minor quibble: Their page on web graphics cautions against low resolution, which I have also done. But it doesn’t make it clear that an online graphic may be fine on a poster, regardless of the low dots per inch (DPI). The number of dots (pixels) of the picture when printed is what matters, not the screen resolution.
Example: An online picture that is 1,920 pixels wide at 96 DPI is 20 inches on screen. If you print that 5 inches wide on a poster, the resolution is 384 DPI, far more than you need. If you wanted to use that picture as a massive background 48 inches wide, however, you have 40 DPI and it would look terrible.
Print the poster in letter paper sized pieces.This is favoured by people who just want to re-use their PowerPoint slides as posters. Print off each slide, glue them to some coloured paper, and there’s your poster.
These generally look quite poor. It is very difficult to get all the pieces glued down onto decent heavy paper, then tack up all the individual pieces so they are neatly aligned. Plus, most inkjet printers and standard letter paper don’t have the crispness of printing or the bright colours that you can get from a high end plotter printer.