Posters Made Easy

December 1, 1998

Judith Zwolak

The medical center's Department of Photography and Digital Services has made it a lot easier for researchers on both campuses to present posters at conferences. "You can go with just four push pins and a poster tube," says Mike Britt, assistant director of the department.

What can be a time-consuming process--lining up pages of text, charts and photos on a poster panel at a conference site--is made less frustrating when the poster is already printed on a huge sheet of heavy-stock paper and can be affixed with only a push pin in each corner. Since they purchased a poster printer in spring 1997, the department staffers have printed hundreds of posters for medical center faculty members and have provided their services to researchers traveling to New Orleans for conferences.

The key to a smooth poster-making process, says Britt, is using Adobe Acrobat, a program that allows users to share a computer document across applications and platforms while retaining its original look and feel.

"When we first got the poster printer, we would collect the charts, text and photos from people and design the poster in addition to printing it," Britt says. "Since we're a cost-recovery unit, we had to charge for our time and the cost became prohibitive."

Since few departments have their own illustration and page-layout computer programs, Britt had to find a way for the researcher to design most of the poster before sending it to the photography department. The solution was to have the researcher design the poster as a huge slide in Microsoft PowerPoint, a popular slide-producing program, and then send it to the photography department to be converted into Adobe Acrobat along with any photos to be scanned.

Once in the Acrobat program, the researcher can proofread the poster on his or her computer screen using the free Acrobat Reader software available at the Adobe Web site. The printer produces posters up to four feet wide. Most posters range from five to eight feet long, although Britt says he has printed a 12-foot-long poster. Producing posters this way is not cheap.

The average cost of a four-by-five-foot poster is $125, which includes a carrying tube. But Britt argues that the end-result justifies the cost.

"The posters look great," he says. "You can make sections bigger than you could on a regular printer and we use a special image processor to make the color on the photos looks really good."

Britt says his department also uses Adobe Acrobat to put slides used in the classroom on the Web. Viewed with the Acrobat Reader, the images are much clearer than if viewed as a conventional JPEG image, he says. Departments from both campuses can use the Department of Photography and Digital Services, which is located in the Tidewater Building, 1440 Canal St., Suite 820. The phone number is 588-5339.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000