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Organizing your Poster for IBM Systems Technical University in New Orleans
Next month, I will be presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University for Storage and POWER. This conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 16-20, 2017.
Instead of a "Meet the Experts" Q&A panel, this event will feature a "Poster Session". I had the pleasure of doing one of these down in Melbourne, Australia last month. For those who missed it, here are my blog posts:
By now, you have already decided on a title and abstract of your poster. You will need to figure out a quick and easy way to explain your poster, and as always, shorter is better. It reminds me of a famous quote:
"Sorry this letter is too long...
If I had more time, I could have made it shorter!
-- Blaise Pascal
The event team asked me to write some instructions on the mechanics of how to put together a poster for this, since it is new for many people. I use Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 and ImageMagick tools to accomplish this.
Arrangement of Slides
Posters for the IBM Systems Technical University in New Orleans will be 24x36 inches in size. If you print out your poster in 8.5x11 inch standard size letter pages, that would be eight slides, 2 columns, 4 rows. This leaves one inch border all around.
The event will provide both the foam board and double-sided sticky tape. You can bring your poster as a stack of Letter-sized pages in a folder, and assemble your poster at the event.
You can increase the size of individual image to 17x22, to offer the "Big Picture" view. Basically, we can take a standard 8.5x11 Letter size page, expand it onto four separate pages, and then put them on the poster! I will show you how in the steps below.
Lastly, you can have two big slides. If your poster is organized as "Before/After" or "Problem/Solution" then this arrangement could be perfect for you.
Setting Custom Paper Size on PowerPoint
In Melbourne, I had to use European A4 standard paper, and had to figure out how to do this in PowerPoint. I was surprised to learn that the PowerPoint default is 4:3 ratio of 10x7.5 inch, and that this is stretched to be whatever paper size you print on.
The difference is slight, but I prefer [WYSIWYG], so we will change the slide to "Custom size" and force it to 8.5x11 inches, with "Landscape" orientation. This will avoid anything looking stretched or squished on the big poster.
Converting a PowerPoint Slide to PNG Image file
If you would like to resize one or more of your PowerPoint slides, you will need to save those slides as images. Select "File" and "Save As" and as the format, choose "PNG" format. You can also select GIF or JPG, but I prefer PNG.
You can export all of your slides as images, in which case it will create a folder and number each slide individually. Or, you can select "Just This One" for the current slide.
By default, it will use the same name as your PPT file, just change the extension to PNG. I suggest you name the file something meaningful to you. In my examples below, I use "small.png" as the file name.
I am using PowerPoint 2013, which defaults to 96 dpi. So, an 8.5x11 paper becomes 1056x816 pixels in size.
If you have PowerPoint 2003 or higher, you can change the Windows registry to specify image resolutions. Not recommended for the faint of heart. Or anyone else. But here's the deal if you want to try (if the following doesn't make any sense, it might be better not to mess with the registry):
Quit PowerPoint if it's running
Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\X.0\PowerPoint\Options
(For X> above, substitute 16.0 for PowerPoint 2016, 15.0 for PowerPoint 2013, 14.0 for PowerPoint 2010, 12.0 for PowerPoint 2007 and 11.0 for PowerPoint 2003.
Add a new DWORD value named ExportBitmapResolution and set its DECIMAL value to the DPI value you want (for example, 300 means 300 dots per inch)
Close REGEDIT, start PowerPoint and test. Your files will be 3300x2550 pixels instead.
Resizing and splitting up PNG Image files
To expand and chop the slide into four letter-sized pages, we will use "ImageMagick", an open source tool you can download for free at [ImageMagick] is a collection of command line utilities. The first "identify" will confirm your pixel size for your PNG image. Replace "small.png" with whatever you named your PNG image above.
Lastly, we crop the "big.png" image we just created into four smaller pieces. Each piece will be exactly the size as your original image! The files will be named big_0.png, big_1.png, big_2.png and big_3.png.
Since the resulting four pieces are exactly the size of a page, you can put them back into your PowerPoint deck. Create four blank slides, select Insert then Pictures. Insert each picture (big_0.png, big_1.png, big_2.png, and big_3.png) as a separate page.
You can print this out, and bring with you to the event, or send it to someone to have them print for you.
Upload files to IBM@Box
This next step is completely optional, but found it adds a nice touch. As an IBMer, you can upload your presentation, and any documents, whitepapers or other materials, to [IBM@Box]. Create a directory that is unique to you, such as your last name and the conference. For example, I have "Pearson-STU-NOLA-2017" as my folder name.
You can create a "URL Link" to this folder. Select "Share", then "Share Link" to create a dialog box. It is important to specify "People with this link" if you want those outside of IBM, such as clients and IBM Business Partners, to have access.
Press the little "gear" button on the upper right, and it gives you options to customize the URL. Normally the URL is some long random sequence of characters, but you can rename it to something meaningful and easier to remember.
Generate a QR Code
Since you have a URL Share Link for your files on IBM@Box, you can generate a QR Code for this link, and include on your poster!
There are several online websites that can generate a QR Code for free. I use [QRme.com] in this example. Go to the website, copy in the URL, and press "Generate" button.
The QR Code is generated successfully, right click and "Save Image" to a file on your hard drive. This image can be inserted as a picture like we did above onto any slide. You can resize as needed.
In Melbourne, one of the posters had the QR Code at the top, with the Title, and it was impossible to see, so difficult to use a smartphone to scan the information. For this reason, I recommend putting the QR code in the center or lower right corner of your poster. Between shoulder and waist height for the audience, to be comfortable to scan.
I am looking forward to going back to New Orleans to speak at this conference!