Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL)

Large-Format Printing at Huxley

Preparing Posters and/or ArcMap Layouts for Printing in the Huxley Map Library (AH-101) or the Spatial Analysis Lab (AH-201 or AH-24)

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See notes on Huxley / WWU Color Printers and Scanners.


There are currently two options for large format printing at Huxley College and a few more elsewhere on campus:

  • Students enrolled in courses charging Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL) lab-fees may have poster and/or map printing privileges as part of the lab fee (check with your instructor)

  • Faculty and students at large also have access to the large format scanner and printer in the Huxley Map Library (HML), for a fee

  • The Student Technology Center (HH-121) (1 poster per student per quarter for academic projects for free, see: STC Printing)

  • The Publicity Center (VU 411) (rates)

  • SMATE (650-7605)

Both the SAL and the Map Library also have 11x17 color laser printer ($.25 per page in the HML, limited access in the SAL).


Large format printing is both expensive (in terms of ink and paper) and demanding (in terms of file format and setup). Please read and follow these notes carefully to insure success. If you have any questions please contact stefan (AH-201) or Janet (AH-101) before you go to the work of creating your entire poster.


Image File Formats: .tif or .jpg file formats are recommended for exporting and printing of files. Pdf files also work well.   


Poster File Formats: There are a number of acceptable formats for creating large format posters. However, not all formats work with large format printers. We have had the best, and most consistent luck using Microsoft PowerPoint. As such, many of the instructions below are directed towards PowerPoint users. Other formats (Adobe Illustrator, .pdf, etc.) generally also work. At this point, we have developed the procedures below and feel reasonably confident in the process. Users are welcome to vary from our suggestions if they wish, but do so at their own expense (i.e., if it doesn't print for whatever reason you still pay for the paper and ink...) and should talk with the HML or SAL staff in advance to be sure we have compatible software. If exporting to a graphic file (.tif or .jpg) be sure to use a high enough DPI so as to insure acceptable quality printing (preview output at 100% scale/size to inspect).


Scheduling: Due issues of scheduling and the problematic nature of large format printing, please allow at least 48 hours for printing (i.e., if you need a poster by Wednesday WE need your final file by Monday). If you are in a hurry, check with ADI, Copy Source or Kinkos.



If you are unfamiliar with PowerPoint and/or Windows, contact the Student Technology Center (HH-121) (if you are a student) or ATUS (650-3333) (for faculty and staff) for assistance with your files.


See also, Notes and Suggestions for Poster Layout  (style and presentation) below.


 Macintosh users, see additional Mac notes below.


See Huxley College Color Printers and Scanners list.



Large format poster printing seems to work best (given our setup) from PowerPoint. You may also use ArcMap (or any other software you wish) to create a poster if you wish, but  once created you will need to export this work as a high resolution (300 dpi) JPEG (other graphics files may also work, but some don't...), then create a PowerPoint poster and insert this JPEG for printing. Note that there is some loss of resolution in exporting to a JPEG.

Included in these instructions are notes on printing a black and white proof (draft) copy on 8½x11 or 11x17 paper. BW 11x17 printing is available in both for free in both the Map Library (HML) and AH-16 (SAL). The Map Library also has a 11x17 color printer ($.25 per page) that can be used for drafts. Print and carefully proof as many drafts as necessary before requesting a final color print. You will be charged for additional large format prints should they be required (even for SAL lab fee courses). Bring your final, black & white draft with you when you are ready to print your poster -  we will not print any posters until we have received a BW draft..


General Notes:

  • Ink is the primary expense in large format printing and excessive amounts of ink tends to over-saturate and wrinkle the paper. For these reasons we require posters to use pastels and half-tones, with stronger colors as accents only. (Note also that posters generally look darker when printed than they appear on screen). Our fees and charges are based on a 'pastel amount' of ink. If your poster requires white lettering, the background is too dark. If you absolutely can't live without a dark background with white lettering talk to the staff  in advance to arrange for additional charges and payment to cover the extra costs. If you choose to go with dark (heavy ink) backgrounds you will be responsible for paying for all test plots, even if the paper is wrinkled and the poster is unusable...

  • Make sure your lines are at least 1 pt (for boxes or borders, etc) to make sure they  in order to be visible to a viewer of the poster (2 pt or larger recommended).

  • Make sure you preview your poster at 100% (full size). Graphics (photos, charts, logos) often look fine on a small draft or on screen but not when viewed full size.

  • Our plotters use water-soluble inks. Even after drying they can be damaged by moisture. The HML plotter uses archival inks (UV fade resistant). The SAL plotters are not archive quality, thus they will fade with time from exposure to light.

  • We do not have the ability to laminate posters. Applied Digital Imaging, Copy Source and Kinkos all do large format laminating if you need that.

  • The use of unusual graphic file formats and/or PowerPoint 'gizmos' (things like repeating images, etc) have caused problems in the past. For example, DO NOT use the "Format / Background" option for adding a color or image background. Instead simply insert a full-sized colored box or image (which you send to the back of the slide). To be on the safe side Keep it Simple. If you have any doubts, talk to the staff and/or plan on being available when we print your poster so you (rather than we) can make edits as need be. See additional PowerPoint notes below..

  • DO NOT wait until the last minute to create or print your poster. Schedule your printing in advance and give yourself a day or two before you actually need the poster in case problems arise. At certain times in the quarter printing may require more than two days due to high demand.


Page Size Limitations:

  • The plotter page widths available at Huxley are 36” (AH-24 SAL plotter) or 42” (AH-201 SAL or AH-101 HML plotters)

  • Determine in advance which plotter you will have access to (talk to Stefan or HML) to determine which plotter you can use and your page size limitations

  • Note that PowerPoint has a maximum page dimension of 56” – if you have a need for a poster longer than 56” you will need to create it half size (with a maximum page width of 21”) which we will then scale up 200% for printing

  • Do not use the entire page size (i.e., leave a 1”+ white border around the edge of your poster) – Otherwise we will have to scale your poster down slightly to fit the printable area of the paper


For Large Format Maps or Posters using ArcMap, ArcView, Adobe Illustrator or Other Software Packages:

  • Set your page size for the desired poster size (see Page Size notes above)

  • Prepare your layout or poster in ArcMap as usual

  • When completed, use File \ Export to save your image as a TIFF or JPEG  (be sure to use the straight JPEG option, not the JPEG {for ArcPress} option, not JPEG 2000 option).  Before saving, go the options and set the resolution to 200 (or higher) and the quality to High.  You can try setting the resolution to 300 or higher, but memory limitations may not allow this to succeed.

  • OPTIONAL: Create a new PowerPoint poster (see below) and add your JPEG image to it, sized appropriately.


Posters (Using PowerPoint):

  • Begin a new PowerPoint file (File \ New), as a blank presentation and using the blank slide in the lower right if a starting template is requested.

  • Set your page size to be either the desired final size or ½ the desired final size (see Page Size notes above) - Page size settings are available from the File \ Page Setup menu

  • Add your graphics (Insert \ Picture \  From file)

    • If printing a map or poster from ArcMap or other software all you will need to add is your single JPEG file

    • Note that graphics can be resized using Format \ Picture \ Size to precisely size your image

  • Add additional graphics, text, etc.

  • Do not use a live link to an Excel chart or graph. Likewise, avoid 'live' tables within PowerPoint. Instead, create your table, chart or graph, export this as a high-DPI graphic and inset the graphic into PowerPoint.

  • Avoid the use of any PowerPoint widgets (animation, formatted backgrounds, etc.). Simply add images and text to a single slide for the simplest, and thus most likely to print correctly, layout.

  • Make sure to leave at least a 1” white border around the edges (see notes above)

  • Print a test print (see below) and bring a BW copy with you when you are ready to print


Black and White Proof

  • In PowerPoint choose File \ Print

  • Choose the printer of your choice (if necessary)

  • Set the page orientation to Layout if needed

  • Check the box beside Scale to fit paper in the Print dialog box

  • Click OK to send the print

To print an 11x17 proof in the Map Library, check with HML staff (BW are free, color are $.25)

To print an 11 x 17 proof in SAL (AH-16), use the HP5si printer :

  • Check to make sure there is 11x17 paper in Tray 3 of the HP 5si printer (the bottom drawer)

  • Choose the ah16-hp5si-2 printer in the Print dialog box

  • Choose Properties (still in the print dialog box) and to set your preferences for the HP5si

    • Paper tab:      Size is = 11 x 17      Source isTray 3       Type is =  plain

    • Basics tab:     Orientation = landscape  or portrait   (whichever one you need)

    • Click OK to return to the main Print dialog window

    • Check the box beside Scale to fit paper (bottom section of the main Print dialog box)

  • Click OK to send the print

You can also manually feed paper (i.e., not use Tray 3 but feed the sheet in one at a time):

  • Get some 11 x 17 paper (in the top wide drawer under the paper cutter)

  • Choose the ah16-hp5si-2 printer in the Print dialog box

  • Choose Properties (still in the print dialog box) and to set your preferences for the HP5si

    • Paper tab:      Size is = 11 x 17      Source isTray 1       Type is =  plain

    • Basics tab:     Orientation = landscape     (assuming this is what you need)

    • Click OK to return to the main Print dialog window

    • Check the box beside Scale to fit paper (bottom section of the main Print dialog box)

  • Click OK to send the print

  • On the HP5si printer  (the large one on the left side), lower the manual feed tray  (top of the right side of the printer) and insert a page of 11 x 17 paper.  If there is a message about loading the 11 x 17 paper and a flashing orange light, press the ON LINE button on the top left of the printer.



Full-size Color Print:

Once you have a black and white print that you have proofed and consider final:

For HML printing:

  • Save your PowerPoint file.

  • Copy your PowerPoint file to a Zip disc, CD, thumb drive or your U:/ drive to bring to HML.

  • Copy your file to the C:\temp folder of the HML plotter computer (see HML staff)

  • Deliver you BW draft and HML Printing Request Form to the HML staff along with payment

  • Please allow at least 48 hours to print your poster.

For SAL printing:

  • Save your PowerPoint giving it a name which includes your name or initials.

  • Copy your PowerPoint file to a Zip disc, CD or to the SAL_Temp \ posters  folder on the J:\ drive.

  • Deliver you BW draft and the file to Stefan

  • Please allow at least 48 hours for Stefan to print your poster.

  • Remember that you only get one copy for color prints… proof all aspects of your poster carefully before requesting the final print.

  • If you have used the SAL_Temp folder, please delete your poster once it has been printed


Macintosh Users:

Apparently, a Mac PowerPoint file is not quite the same as a Windows PowerPoint file. While Windows PowerPoint can usually open a Mac PowerPoint file, things do not always look quite right (text box formatting, graphics positioning, background printing, etc.). Even when things appear correct on screen, they do not always print correctly... We cannot be responsible for the cost of unusable posters printed from Mac PowerPoint files... even though they may look OK they may not (in our experience) print correctly. The risk (cost) of attempting this is up to you. The safest plan is to not use your Mac (sorry) at all and simply compose your poster on a Windows version of PowerPoint. If you insist on using a Mac, we recommend you use the process outlined above for creating a poster, then rather than giving us your (Mac) .ppt file follow the steps below and give us a .jpeg or .tif file (or a Windows .ppt):

  • Create your poster as above (setting the page size, etc)

  • Export your slide from PowerPoint to a .jpeg or .tif file (choose Save As from the File menu)

  • Choose the Current Slide Only as what to export

  • Keep a copy of the .jpeg (or .tif) for yourself and make a copy in the SAL_Temp \ posters  folder on the J:\ drive.

  • Let Stefan know your poster is ready to print (and tell us the page size is)

  • We (or optionally you if you wish) will create a new Windows PowerPoint file, add your graphic to it and print that...

  • Please allow at least 48 hours to print your poster.




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Notes and Recommendations for creating your poster layout:


Allow ample time to prepare your poster (weeks not days). Use a crisp, clean design and a strong title. Do not tell the entire research history. Present only enough data to support your conclusions and show the originality of the work. The best posters display a succinct statement of major conclusions at the beginning, followed by supporting text in later segments and a brief summary at the end.


All posters should feature a title, your name, the name of the institution where the research was performed and should credit others, as appropriate.


The title lettering should be about 2" to 3" (5cm to 7.5cm) with subheadings 1/2" to 1" high (1.25 to 2.5 cm).

— All lettering should be legible from about five feet (1.5m) away. Text material should be approximately 24 points (1/4"/.625cm) minimum.
— Lines (boxes, borders, etc) should be at least 1 pt or larger (a 1 pt line will appear as a very fine 'hairline.' For most linework, 2 pt or larger is recommended)


Convert tabular material to graphic display, if possible (tables are difficult to read from a distance. Graphs and charts are more likely to be read and can covey summary trends more quickly). Export graphs or charts from Excel and insert as a graphic for your poster.


Use pastel colors for background. Use darker colors to add emphasis and clarity.


Make illustrations simple and bold. Enlarge photos to show pertinent details clearly.


Displayed materials should be self-explanatory, freeing you for discussion. As with a report or paper, there should be a logical flow of information (introduction, body, summary, credits and references), that allows the reader to easily read (or skim) your work.


Have handouts of your abstract(s) and/or research paper and/or 11x17 versions of your poster available for interested viewers to take with them. Likewise, have business cards with your name/contact on them if you wish to enable viewers to easily contact you later.


Take along a measuring tape, scotch tape, push pins or Velcro so you will be prepared to set up the poster quickly.


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