Scientific Poster Tutorials

Technical Aspects and How To's
8. Technical Aspects: Images, Graphs, and Colors

Jump to Section: File Formats | Bitmap Graphics | Object-Oriented Graphics | Placing Images | Changing Poster Colors

Image File Formats

Graphics that can be imported into PowerPoint fall into two main categories; Bitmap (Paint-Type) and Object-Oriented (Draw-Type). We recommend using common formats such as .JPG, .BMP, .WMF or .TIF files. Unusual files such as QuickTime compressed, Picture Viewer, PICT & EPS don’t always translate well. When you are saving or exporting images, carefully determine the file type in order to get the best looking final image.


Bitmap Graphics

Bitmap graphics are commonly created by basic painting packages, such as Microsoft Paint. Most scanning packages also utilize bitmap formats. Bitmaps are comprised from a series of small square dots (pixels). Depending on the format of the particular bitmap, each of these dots can be black, white, some particular color, or a shade of gray.

Limitations of bitmap graphics:
  • Because bitmaps are made up of dots, sizing the graphic may distort it. Sizing the graphic proportionally minimizes the distortion.
  • Bitmap graphics can be very large. Scanned bitmaps at 300 dpi (dots per inch) can easily exceed 1 megabyte (MB). This causes slow screen redraws and creates larger PowerPoint files. Printing problems may also occur with large images.
  • Bitmaps do not typically output at as high a resolution as an equivalent object-oriented graphic format.
Bitmap Graphic

Object-Oriented Graphics

Object-oriented graphics, on the other hand, are not comprised of a series of dots. They are a set of instructions that tell the computer to draw lines, boxes, polygons, and so on. Such a file is basically an equation for generating the image, rather than the actual pixel by pixel representation.

Object-oriented graphics have several advantages over bitmaps.1

  • A graphic can usually be resized without distorting the image. Object-oriented graphics are generated by a formula; therefore, if you resize the image, the application recalculates the formula to compensate for the change in size.
  • Object-oriented graphic files are much smaller in size.
  • They output at the highest resolution supported by the output device. In other words, if you send an object-oriented graphic to a 1024 x 1024 resolution printer, the graphic would recalculate and output at that resolution. A bitmap, on the other hand, is always limited by the initial resolution at which it was created. In most cases, this is no better than the screen resolution, 75 DPI for VGA, unless the image was scanned.

Typical programs using object-oriented graphics are CorelDRAW!, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Illustrator and many others.

Object Oriented Graphic

Placing Images

To get the images that you have acquired on to your actual poster you have a couple of options; importing or cutting and pasting.

Importing Images

  1. Place the insertion point at the position in your document where you want to insert the picture.
  2. On the Insert menu, point to Picture. This will open the Insert Picture dialog box, which is similar to the Open Office Document (or Open) dialog box for opening documents.
  3. In the Insert Picture dialog box, locate and select the graphics file you want to import.

    You can import graphics files in a wide variety of formats—for example, files with the extensions .bmp, .wmf, .gif, and .jpg. To see preview images of your graphics files, click the More Options button in the upper right corner and then select the Small, Medium, Large, or Extra Large view from fly out menu.
  4. Click the Insert button.

Cutting and Pasting Graphs and Charts

If you have a graphics on another document that you would like to use on your PowerPoint poster you can use cut and paste. To do a basic cut and paste simply follow the instructions below.

  1. Select the graphics in the other program, and from that program’s Home tab or Edit menu, click Copy (or Ctrl+C).
  2. Place your curser at the approximate position of your poster where you want to insert the picture.
  3. On PowerPoint Home tab, click Paste. (or Ctrl+V)

If you will need to edit the item in its native application (by double clicking, if available) after it is pasted in PowerPoint, use above instructions to paste the item in place. Otherwise, we recommend using the Paste Special feature so you have more control over how your graphics look.

Here's How:

Go to the Home tab, click the Down Arrow Below Paste and select Paste Special (you can also use Ctrl+Alt+V). Once you have done that you can use the explanations below to choose the best option from the pop-up box. This is a general guide that may vary slightly between the different versions of PowerPoint.

  • Items pasted as a Microsoft Office Graphic Object will insert as a graphic object that can be edited in PowerPoint.

  • Items pasted as a Picture cannot be edited. Depending on the type of object, the result will be the same as a pasted enhanced metafile or it will turn into a jpg (bitmapped picture).

  • Items pasted as an Enhanced Metafile cannot be edited in their native application. They can only be ungrouped to dumb objects in PowerPoint. Ungrouping will cause charts, graphs or vector objects to split up into 100s of pieces.

Paste Special

Paste Special

When you are using the Paste Special function on a PC make sure that Paste is selected and not Paste link (If you are using a Mac there will not be an option for Paste Link). For Mac PowerPoint users, it’s opposite. If you import a picture, there is an option to link it or save it with file. If a Mac user chooses to use paste special, there is no option for linking.


Changing Poster Colors

If the colors in the PowerPoint template you downloaded aren't quite right (or if you're starting from scratch), you have the ability to change them. You can customize the slide background color, the font color, and the color of the different objects. Objects such as the rectangular text boxes for the column titles can contain various fill effects and even have an outline.

Background Formatting

  1. To change the background color of your slide, right click in an empty area of the slide. A list of options will appear. Select Format Background.

  2. A dialogue box will open and you will want to select Fill in the upper left hand corner.

    Background Formatting

  3. From there you will have a number of Fill options for the background to choose from. We have listed them below with a brief description of each option.

    • A. Solid Fill – Choose a solid color from a drop down box and set the level of transparency desired.

    • B. Gradient Fill – This one can get a bit complex. You can choose from preset colors or create a custom gradient by deciding the Type, Direction, Angle, Gradient Colors, Brightness, and Transparency.

    • C. Picture or Texture Fill – Here you can choose a predesigned texture from a dropdown box or insert your own Picture or Clip Art to be used. There is also a box marked Tile picture as texture here. If you select this box it will place your image on your background as many times as necessary to fill your background, if you leave it unchecked the picture you select will simply be stretched to fill the background.

    • D. Pattern Fill – There are 48 preset patterns here to chose from. Simply select the design you like and then chose two colors that you would like to be used to create that pattern.

Object Formatting

There are actually 16 different categories relating to the formatting of an object in PowerPoint but we are going to focus on the three main categories: Fill, Line Color, and Line Style. To access these different categories simply right click on the object that you wish to change the colors on and then select Format Shape from the list that pops up. Below we have a short description for each of the three main categories.

For a complete walkthrough watch this video:

We do not recommend using the transparency slider to get the color you want. Transparencies don’t always print well. Instead, find a good color by clicking More Colors when choosing a color. If you can't find the color you're looking for, click on the Custom tab and create your own.

  1. Fill – This controls what the object is filled with visually. There are six different options for Fill:

    Object Formatting

    • A. No Fill – Quite simply, when this is selected the object will have no fill.

    • B. Solid Fill – Choose a solid color from a drop down box and set the level of transparency you want.

    • C. Gradient Fill – This one can get a bit complex. You can choose from preset colors or create a custom gradient by deciding the Type, Direction, Angle, Gradient Colors, Brightness, and Transparency.

    • D. Picture or Texture Fill – Here you can choose a predesigned texture from a dropdown box or insert your own Picture or Clip Art to be used. There is also a box marked Tile picture as texture here. If you select this box it will place your image on your background as many times as necessary to fill your background, if you leave it unchecked the picture you select will simply be stretched to fill the background.

    • E. Pattern Fill – There are 48 preset patterns here that you can chose from. Simply select the design you like and then chose the two colors that you would like to be used to create that pattern.

  2. Line Color – This set of options controls the color of the outline of the object that you have selected.

    Line Color

    • A. No Line – If no line is selected there will be no outline for that object.

    • B. Solid Line – Here you can select the color of the line as well as the level of transparency for the line.

    • C. Gradient line – Once again as with the fill options, you can choose from preset colors or create a custom gradient by deciding the Type, Direction, Angle, Gradient Colors, Brightness, and Transparency.

  3. Line Style – This controls the look of the line using the categories below.

    Line Style

    • A. Width – Dictates how thick the line for that object is.

    • B. Compound Type – This allows you to choose whether you want a single line, double line, thick/thin combo line, thin/thick combo line, or a triple lined outline.

    • C. Dash Type – Here you can choose from a variety of dash styles to use for your line. Most often this is just left as a solid line.

    • D. Cap Type – This mostly applies to straight lines and arrows, we suggest leaving this at flat.

    • E. Join Type – The Join Type affects the look of the corners of your objects. Here you have a choice of a Miter which is a pointed corner, Bevel which will cut the corner off at an angle, and rounded which will round off your corners.

Font

  1. To change the font color, first select the text. Then click the arrow next to the “A” with the bar of color below it.
  2. From here you can select your new solid color. Text itself can only have a solid color. There are no fill effects for text, as there are for objects and the background. However, the background of a textbox can have a fill effect because it is considered an object.
Font Color

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