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Designing Effective Posters: Adding and Revising Content: PowerPoint

Learn how to design and publish effective posters. This guide includes sections on design elements, the poster design process, and using software to create posters.

Quick Tip!

"Grouping" a set of objects allows you to move a set of objects together, while still being able to edit each object within the group independently. 

Click here to view a short YouTube video on aligning and arranging objects in PowerPoint.

To group two objects: select one object (left click), press and hold the Ctrl key (⌘ on Mac), select the second object (right click), then click Group from the menu.

To group three or more objects: select one object (left click), press and hold the Ctrl key (⌘ on Mac), select the second object (left click), select the third object (right click), then click Group from the menu. 


Adding and Revising Text

To add text to your poster, click Text Box under the Insert tab.  Then click and drag to create a text box.

You can move a text box by clicking on an edge of the text box and then dragging it. You can resize a text box by dragging its handles. 

To change its formatting, select text and then choose options from the home tab..
Screen shot of the home tab in PowerPoint showing the text formatting tools.

To add bullets, select the lines to which you want to add bullets, then choose bullet options from the paragraph area of the toolbar. 

Using the BrightSlide plugin

A very useful plugin for PowerPoint is BrightSlide (  This free plugin works for both Windows and Macs running Microsoft 365.

Once the program is installed on your machine, you will see a new tab called BrightSlide within PowerPoint.

Screen shot of the BrightSlide tab within PowerPoint

Creating columns

On the BrightSlide tab you have a section called File & Master.  Click on the Guides down arrow and select Create Guides > Add to Layout

Screen shot of the Guides drop down with the Create Guides > Add to Layout highlighted

The next box will allow you to set a margin around the poster and set columns and row within the poster.

Screen shot of the Create Guides menu box

For posters, you will want a 1 inch margin around the poster and no more than 3 columns with a 1 inch gutter between.

Screen shot of the guides on the poster layout within PowerPoint

You can also set the colors of the guides by selecting the Guides > Change Colors menu option.

Screen shot of the Change Guide Colors menu box

Setting theme colors

If you have selected your color palette for your poster, you can set those colors within BrightSlide.  From the File & Master box select Theme Colors > Edit Theme Colors

Screen shot of the Theme Colors dropdown box with Edit Theme Colors highlighted

A box will open showing your theme default colors.  Click on the box you wish to change to your color and add the RGB value for that color.  Click on the next color to change its HEX value (eg: #000000) or its RGB value (eg: 120,230,145).  Click OK when you are completely done.

Screen shot of the theme color setup within BrightSlide

When you now go to select a fill or text color, your new theme colors will be at the top of the box.

Screen shot of the Theme Colors box within PowerPoint

Wrapping Text Around an Image

Unfortunately, PowerPoint does not have a Text Wrap feature.  Here are some ways to accomplish this for your poster.

Images, Shapes, and Lines

Shapes and Lines

To add shapes or lines, click on the Shapes icon in the toolbar. A dropdown menu appears which allows you to choose from many different shapes.  Choose a shape, then click and drag to add it to your poster. 

Screen shot of the Shapes menu in PowerPoint

To align shapes (or text boxes), select the objects you want to align, then click on the Arrange icon in the toolbar (just to the right of the Shapes icon). Then choose one of the  Align options.

The Arrange icon also reveals options for ordering and grouping objects. When objects overlap on the screen you can change  the "stacking order" by choosing options under Order Objects. You can group items together by choosing Group Objects.  

Editing Shapes

To constrain proportions as you are drawing or editing an object or image, press the SHIFT key down as you drag on one of the "handles" (small circles and squares that appear around an object that indicate it is selected). 

Right-clicking on an object or image lets you access additional editing options, including

  • Cut, copy and paste
  • Send to front/back (for items that overlap each other)
  • Grouping (lets you ‘lock’ objects together and manipulate them as a unit)

Note: Right-clicking on the background lets you access additional formatting options: 

  • Ruler/grid line options, including snap-to-grid (alignment)
  • Layout options
  • Background options (including color)


To add an image to your poster, choose Insert Picture This Device, which allows you to browse your computer for image files. 

Screen shot of the Insert Pictures menu from PowerPoint

Once you've added an image, you can resize or reposition it by dragging its handles. 

You can alter and add effects to your picture in various ways, including:

Adding a border or shadow

Adjusting the color (Picture Color)

Adjusting the layout (Picture Layout)

Charts and Equations


To add a chart, choose the Insert tab and click on the Chart icon.

Screen shot of the Charts menu from PowerPoint

Select the type of chart you wish to add to your poster.

Screen shot of the Chart creation menu in PowerPoint

An Excel spreadsheet will open where you can enter your data. If you need to change something in your chart, you can right click on the Chart and go to Edit Data (the Excel spreadsheet is saved with your PowerPoint file). This is the benefit to creating the chart in PowerPoint, because you can easily change data, and the chart will resize automatically. 

Note: In general it is a good to avoid 3-D chart unless you have a specific reason for doing so. 3-D charts are often more difficult to read.

Choose Chart options (chart elements, styles, and filters) by clicking on icons to the right of the chart.

Screen shot of the Chart icons for Elements, Styles, and Filters in PowerPoint

Screen shot for Chart Elements in PowerPoint               Screen shot of the Chart Styles menu in PowerPoint



Screen shot of the Chart Filters menu in PowerPoint



You can add a formatted equation by choosing Insert > Equation.
Screen shot of the Equations button and menu in PowerPoint

Adding Icons

PowerPoint also has a group of icons you can use for your poster.  The menu for these can be found under Insert > Icons

Screen shot of the icons menu in PowerPoint

If you cannot find a good icon here, check the Noun Project ( for more Creative Commons licensed icons.

Making Charts and Tables in PowerPoint

Making Charts in PowerPoint

Making Tables in PowerPoint