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This page describes one way to make A0 posters using LaTeX.

This information is aimed mainly for internal University of Edinburgh use, and specifically for within CSTR and the Linguistics department. However, if this doesn't apply to you and you want to produce A0 documents read on, as you may be able to adapt the information presented here to your needs.

This document assumes you know the basics of LaTeX, but doesn't assume you know about A0 documents, multicolumns, colour and including graphics.

To create an A0 document in LaTeX we use the document class a0poster to get an A0 page, and we include the package edposter which gives us the option of borders, logos and titles. So the top of our LaTeX document looks like this:

\documentclass[a0,portrait]{a0poster}
\usepackage{edposter}

The options to a0poster should not need explaining. You can create landscape A0 documents but edposter does not currently support landscape A0 posters (maybe I'll get around to fixing it one day).

edposter requires that you set some definitions. In the title block of the poster. You have space for 3 authors, affiliations and email addresses, which you must set, or set blank if you want them left blank.

\title{} The poster title.
\authorleft{} The name of the author on the left.
\author{} The name of the author in the middle.
\authorright{} The name of the author on the right.
\affiliationleft{} The affiliation of the author on the left.
\affiliation{} The affiliation of the author in the middle.
\affiliationright{} The affiliation of the author on the right.
\emailleft{} The email address of the author on the left.
\email{} The email address of the author in the middle.
\emailright{} The email address of the author on the right.

For example:

\title{Making Posters is fun}
\author{Joe Bloggs}
\affiliation{HCRC \\ University of Edinburgh}
\email{bloggs@cogsci.ed.ac.uk}
\authorleft{Little Miss Muffet}
\affiliationleft{Some Dept. \\ Some University.}
\emailleft{muffet@some.some.ac.uk}
\authorright{Dr. Foster}
\affiliationright{Department of Medicine \\ University of Glouster}
\emailright{puddle@med.glou.ac.uk}

If we then add the simple document to this we can actually compile our first poster:

\begin{document}
\maketitle
My first Poster.
\end{document}
A .tex file containing the above can be found here.

To compile such a document use the following commands:

$ latex poster_ex1.tex
      ... stuff happens ...
$ dvips -t a0 -o poster_ex1.ps poster_ex1.dvi
If latex complains that it can't find any of the a0 files needed, there is a link at the bottom of this page to ftp them.

It is important to note the -t a0 flag as this tells dvips to select A0 paper, without it you will just get the bottom corner of the document. If dvips complains about not knowing about a0 size paper, a definition for a0 paper needs to be added to its config file.

If all goes well you should end up with a postscript file which looks something like this:

Poster Thumbnail

The red border and the logo are defaults, which we will look at changing later. Also the title looks like it is too close to the top of the page, which is not the case for longer titles, but we will also look at adding space there later.

Poster Content

Now comes the task of filling the blank page. General opinion suggests that splitting into 3 columns looks best. This can be achieved with the multicols package. This package is automatically loaded by edposter.

Delete the line: My first Poster after \maketitle and add the following:

\begin{multicols}{3}
\end{multicols}
Now anything that you stick inside the multicols environment will be produces in three columns. Because of the way multicols works it is best to get all of your poster on the page before you worry about actual spacing and arrangement.

You want your poster to have Visual Impact
but not be O v e r T h e T o p .

Basically, you need to have a design which doesn't have too many blocks of text, but has enough to explain what the poster is about. You need to make good use of graphics, but don't go including pictures just for the sake of filling space. Colour is also important, but you should probably stick to using at most 6 colours if you can.

Colour

color package is preloaded for you, and the primary colours: white, black, red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow are predefined. You also have the "Crayola" colours defined, giving you colours like: WildStrawbery, DarkOrchid and Periwinkle to name but a few.

edposter gives you the following extras to allow you to coordinate with the logos and xwaves output should that be your thing: edlogoblue, edblue, edlogored, esrcblue, entropicgreen, entropicblue and entropicpurple.

should you still not be satisfied you can always define your own colours with commands like the following:

\definecolor{your_colour_name}{rgb}{red,green,blue}

Where red, green and blue are numbers between 0 and 1 representing the red, green and blue components of your colour.

To use colour text in latex you use the following syntax:

{\color{blue} This text is blue }

Text

And speaking of text, as far as the text goes, you can use most of the normal latex environments. All of the font sizes have been scaled up so that you can just include text as you normally would. \section{} and \subsection{} work as expected but can be assigned colour.

Graphics

Graphics are probably what make or break a poster. So we will spend some time talking about them here.

The first important thing to know is that there are 2 distinct types of graphics format. Bitmap format and Vector format.

Bitmap based formats store the picture as a series of coloured squares called pixels. Example Bitmap formats are .jpg .gif. bmp .tiff .ppm each which is slightly different but are basically the same.

Vector based formats differ in that they store the image as a series of points which are related in some way. These points are only converted to a bitmap when they need to be displayed on a bitmap device like a screen or printer. The main example of a vector a format is .eps (encapsulated postscript)

The difference between the 2 formats becomes most apparent when you take an image and try to enlarge it. As this argument apply to fonts as well as ordinary graphic images, we can demonstrate with 2 enlarged characters, one from a bitmapped font and one from a vector font. (Bonus points for naming the fonts!)

A(bitmapped) A(vector)

As you can probably see, the bitmapped character on the left is very blocky where as the vector font on the right looks fine. This is because when you enlarge a bitmap image you just enlarge each pixel, so as it gets larger the pixels becomes a larger square which is more visible as a square. The vector image however scales up much better as it is just a series of points and lines.

This means that where at all possible you should include only graphics which are vector based. xfig, gnuplot and other object based drawing packages should happily produce eps files for you. However, there is one small sting in the tail: it is possible to incorporate a bitmap in an eps file, and this is what you will get if you convert a .gif or a .jpg to an eps file using any program which does that sort of thing. A bitmap incorporated into an eps image will behave exactly like a regular bitmap if enlarged, so be warned. All the automatically included graphics are true .eps files and the edposter package will try to use a postscript font, but this does depend on dvips being set up properly.

So how do you include an eps graphic you ask?

The best way is with the graphics package (which edposter loads automatically for you). this package gives you the simple command:

\includegraphics{filename}

If you need to scale the graphic use the \scalebox{factor}{boxcontent} command.
If you need to rotate it use the \rotatebox{rotation}{boxcontent} command.

It is best to do scaling before rotation as rotation affects the amount of space an image takes up.

It is best to do scaling before rotation as rotation affects the amount of space an image takes up.

Some Examples:

  \includegraphics{pic.eps}

  \scalebox{0.5}{\includegraphics{pic.eps}}

  \rotatebox{45}{
    \scalebox{0.5}{\includegraphics{pic.eps}}}
3 example images

Space

LaTeX is usually very good at spacing correctly, but when it comes to posters you probably will want more space than it gives you. There are 2 very useful LaTeX commands which can add extra space: \hspace{} and \vspace{} which add horizontal and vertical space respectively. For example:

\title{\vspace{4cm}Making Posters is fun}

adds some space above the title as mentioned earlier.


Customising

The one thing that has not been discussed so far is making things a little more personal. Well that is quite easy too. The edposter package lets you change most of its defaults in one of two ways.

Firstly through options supplied to the \usepackage[]{edposter} command. The edposter package currently takes 5 options these are outlined in the table below:

Option Description
nologos Don't put any logos at the top.
cstr Put a CSTR logo top left, and an Ed. Uni logo top right.
hcrc Put a HCRC logo top left, and an Ed. Uni logo top right.
esrc Put an bottom ESRC logo at the bottom of the poster.
sponsorlogo Put an arbitrary sponsor logo at the bottom. You must then define \sponsorlogo and \sponsorlogoscale

Other elements of the poster design can be changes by redefining specific LaTeX variables. the easiest way to do this is with the TeX command \def It is used like this:

  \def\option_name{option_value}

Where option_name and option_value are as specified in the table below: (excuse the American spelling):

option_name option_value Description
bordercolor A predefined colour name The colour of the border outlining the poster
colsepcolor A predefined colour name the colour of the rule between columns (\colseprule=0mm removes this rule)
secheadcol A predefined colour name The colour of section headings
authorcol A predefined colour name the colour of the author block in the title
leftlogo an eps file The logo which is placed top left.
rightlogo an eps file The logo which is placed top right.
sponsorlogo an eps file The logo which is placed at the bottom.
leftlogoscale a floating point number The scaling factor of leftlogo
rightlogoscale a floating point number The scaling factor of rightlogo
sponsorlogoscale a floating point number The scaling factor of sponsorlogo
If you have your own logo which you want at the top left, you should use either the cstr or hcrc option, whichever is the closest in shape to your logo, and then redefine \leftlogo and leftlogoscale before \maketitle is called.

If you really don't like the results \maketitle produces you can always produce the title yourself using the tabular environment.

I think that is about all you need to know. So to finish off here is the LaTeX source code and here is the Postscript for a completed example poster which demonstrates most of the above points.

Poster Thumbnail

For the really adventurous user, don't include the edposter style file and you have yourself a clean a0 canvas to play with. Just know the margin guidelines of your printer. pstricks is a great package for this. You can use it to place great looking boxes containing text or graphics, but that is another story.

files

The LaTeX style files, the eps logos and examples are available here