Poster Printing Design Guidelines

To Submit a Poster for Printing go here:

Poster Printer Status - In Service

Ensure posters are below the file size limit of 20MB. If larger, your file likely has a problem that needs to be resolved. Do not e-mail posters to bels-request system or our e-mail list. They will be rejected. Poster files slow the e-mail system and cause additional processing.

'Standard Poster Size'(48x36) Printing Costs with Fees for Late Submission (Rush Order Fee)

NOTE CHANGE TO POLICY--- ANY RUSH FEES for students are billed directly to the student even if they have a FOAPAL to pay for the poster.

Posters submitted with less than 4 business day lead time will incur an additional cost/charge for additional labor to handle them (UCSC approved and started 7/1/09). These rates are shown below for various submission times and are the result of additional staffing diverted from other jobs to handle late submissions. Note the rates below reflect new pricing that starts 7/1/11. For reference, poster printing rates at FedEx Office in Downtown Santa Cruz as of 9/27/11 are $94.50 for a 36x48 poster on heavy weight paper.

  • $35 - More than 4 full business days lead time; $35 per poster
  • $46 - Less than 4 full business days lead time; $35 + $11 rush order per poster
  • $57 - Less than 2 full business days lead time; $35 + $22 rush order per poster
  • $92 - Less than 1 full business day lead time; $35 + $57 rush order per poster
  • Reprint fees - Full Price for New poster -posters that require re-printing due to your typo or change.  No charge if the error is due to our poster printer.

Fees are paid by automated billing to the student AIS account or by RECHARGE to a faculty or department FOAPAL, (Fund-Organization-Account-Program-Activity-Location number).  Both charges are done by entry onto the Poster Request Web Form.  If recharge, you will need to know who has signature authority on the account being billed (typically the PI/Manager in charge).  Billing is done by electronic auto posting in AIS or by electronic approval/routing in the BSOE Recharge system.   BELS does not take any other form of payment.

The business day is considered to be 9am-5pm, Monday - Friday, note: campus holidays are not a business day and are excluded. These are considered average costs to handle individual posters submitted after the 4 business day deadline. Typically posters are printed by BELS student staff as time permits; however posters submitted late require additional staffing which has not been paid for by the Dean. You can avoid this cost by submitting the poster with more than 4 business days lead time. We recommend that all posters be submitted electronically with 5 business days lead time.

Rush order fees apply to when the final poster is submitted. For posters that require additional work to print correctly, the clock starts when you submit the final revised poster.

Poster Printing Policy

  • Posters are printed for Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE) faculty, staff and students by the Baskin Engineering Lab Support (BELS) Group on a time allowed basis.   Poster printing is partially subsidized by the Division and as such poster printing jobs from outside the division are typically not accepted.

  • Academic Posters must have at least one author who is affiliated with the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, AND the poster must display this affiliation. The poster should also display one of the offical Jack Baskin School of Engineering Logos. Exceptions are made for BSOE courses (such as CMPE 185) and for BSOE programs, BSOE general information posters or BSOE administration requirements where affiliation logo is not appropriate.

  • As of 7/1/11; all poster printing is billed, including administrative & instructional uses.  Additional charges for a rush order, non-standard size or paper may also apply.
  • Posters that do not conform to important guidelines listed may (at our discretion) not be printed by BELS. Posters larger than 48in in both dimensions incur a recharge to cover added expenses for larger size rolls. Posters that do not explicitly show an affiliation with BSOE may not be printed.
  • Poster printing is operated by trained BELS and SOE Techstaff members only. Plotter supplies are very expensive as well as repairs to the plotter. Untrained personnel can easily damage the plotter and consume vast quantities of expensive photo paper and ink unnecessarily.
  • All posters sent in for printing are assumed ok to display in any BSOE/UCSC physical area. Our web form now requests that you approve web postings. The default for web postings is NO.
  • Personnel may have posters printed by other printers, and we list several alternate poster printing services towards the end of this guideline.

Poster Printing Procedures

  1. Before designing your poster, please read over the Poster Design Guidelines and Tips below. This will save you time, effort and will assist you in making your poster more presentable. Posters that do not conform to important guidelines may (at our discretion) not be printed by BELS.
  2. BELS recommends that Microsoft Powerpoint be used to design your poster but that you submit a PDF file for printing. A Standard Poster Size of 48in x 36in be used (orientation does not matter). Our Standard Poster Size paper width is 36in, so one dimension should not be greater than 36in. Avoid using dark backgrounds as these (a) make the poster hard to read; (b) consume large amounts of ink and (c) can cause the paper to blister/boil.
  3. IMPORTANT: Ensure your file is a PDF no greater than 20MB in size; otherwise the web input form will reject it. If the file is 20MB or more, you likely have a problem that needs to be fixed. Often photos are too high of a resolution, but you might also have a bug or file corruption.
  4. Please name your poster file using the last name of the first author, subject and revision. This helps us identify the poster in our file storage. Here is an example: BobVitale-100TbNetworking-R3.ppt
  5. Prior to sending your poster, print it on a laser printer (preferably color) and check to ensure all graphics and items display properly. Often screen displays and printouts do not match (beware of lying monitors).
  6. To have a poster printed, please submit via a web form at:
    Please allow 5 business days before a poster is needed. BELS staff will attempt to look over the poster for problems prior to printing, however during very busy times we might not have time.
  7. All posters sent to BELS may be retained in our electronic files and additional copies later printed for display in the halls and rooms of the Baskin School of Engineering. BELS does not guarantee that a record or backup copy will be maintained - so be sure you keep a copy.

Poster Design Guidelines

Note: Failure to follow IMPORTANT guidelines may result in your poster not being printed and subsequently returned to you for repair. This may result in delays in getting your poster printed. Failure to follow recommended guidelines may result in poor quality posters or delays in printing.

Software For Designing Posters: IMPORTANT

  • File submission should be as a PDF file. Although we have worked with Microsoft Power Point files directly, we have found some Power Point files do not always print properly.
  • If Powerpoint, use a single slide, re-sized to your poster size. Then print to PDF for submission.
  • Standard Poster Size 36 inches by 48 inches
  • Please use the Official Baskin School of Engineering Logo (E2 Windows). Use of Cyber Slug Logo should be limited to Computer Engineering, and Computer Science students as the artist gift were to those programs.
  • Image resolution should be 300dpi or a little higher at the final size of the image.

Powerpoint Setup Instructions & Tips

  1. In Powerpoint, create a new blank presentation. Because Microsoft often keeps extra information on a file, we recommend to starting with a *new* blank presentation & copy elements to it from existing slides.
  2. Re-size the slide to match your desired poster size. File -> Page Setup;. Select slide size for: Custom and change the measurements to the size of your poster (example 48in x 36in). Once you have set these sizes, you can put images right up to the edge of your document.
  3. When printing to a local laser printer and you want the entire slide, select the auto scale feature on your print driver dialog box.

File Size: ( < 20MB ) & be PDF IMPORTANT

File size limit that our web form accepts is 20MB. If your file is over 20MB, you may have a problem with your poster. Please fix it before submitting to us. Most posters are in the 500KB to 10MB range. Large files often indicate a problem with your poster file. Either the poster has several very high resolution pictures, which will not print out (see image resolution notes below) or the poster file has a bug/error in it.

Poster Dimensions:  IMPORTANT

  • Our Standard Poster Size is 48in x 36in (either vertical or horizontal) One dimension must NOT be any larger than 36in. Our standard paper rolls are 36in wide.
  • "Oversized" Option - both dimensions are larger than 36in (means we cannot use 36in wide roll) Should both dimensions of the poster be greater than 36in, a wider roll of paper is then required. Our printer can print up to 60in wide, however this service is not standard and will require reimbursement for costs.

Please provide BELS the recharge fopal and authorization to charge the funds source for the wider paper and the additional technical support time needed to setup the printer. We may not always have the wider paper, so be prepared to allow additional time for ordering larger than 36in wide paper. When we have a number of jobs in the queue, jobs requiring paper larger than 36in wide are sidelined until ALL standard jobs are finished. When changing printer paper types, we loose an amount of paper due to reloading and some time is needed to align paper and test system.

Oversized Poster Supplemental Costs

Size Cost Notes
##in x 60in $7 + $2 per linear ft $7 is setup costs, $2 is cost for supplies per linear foot
48in x 48in $15 This is a size often requested

Image Resolution: IMPORTANT

Resolution refers to the number of colored dots or pixels that make up an image. It is commonly expressed in dpi or dots per inch.

Resolution Rules-of-thumb: 300 dpi at final image size

  • When creating a new document, first, before beginning to add images, text, etc., set the overall dimensions.
    Submissions are frequently incorrectly made in small (ex: 11x8.5) formats.
  • The higher the dpi, the greater the resolution, the better the image quality. But don’t go overboard. Higher resolution images create larger file size.
  • Image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image’s physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, reduce its size. When you enlarge an image, lower the resolution. Otherwise, the image will print poorly.
  • For printed images, the ideal resolution is 300 dpi for images and 400 dpi for text at the final printed size.

Resolution Details at: For details on what pixel count for the size of image you have to achieve 300dpi, see the table at Large Format Printing Resolutions.

Fonts and Symbols: IMPORTANT

  • Recommend use of standard fonts and/or symbols. Use of fonts or symbols not present on BELS computers may have an impact on how your poster prints.

Warning on Background Colors and Watermarks: IMPORTANT

Use a white background for your poster when possible. Avoid using background colors for the entire poster, small areas to highlight certain details are ok. If using a watermark, ensure it is very light and will not interfere with the information on your poster. Some people have used the CyberSlug in very light yellow.

Reasons to avoid using background colors

  • Placing graphics up against a dark background can be challenging and may result in an unreadable poster.  Most graphics are dark and when placed on a dark background require some sort of contrast.  Imagine trying to see red, brown or green lines on a black or dark blue background.   So this means you would either need to contrast invert your image (go from black lines to white lines) or place an extra framing box around your image or figure.
  • Large areas of background color result in lots of ink sprayed onto the paper. The additional ink can in some cases cause the paper to boil or blister.
  • Unnecessary background colors use up lots of expensive ink. If we run out of ink, we may not complete your poster.
  • Very infrequently, the ink jet printer can miss a small line of dark background when spraying ink. There are a variety of reasons, however, the end result is very noticeable. You can avoid this problem and costly reruns by not having a background color.
  • Printing large background areas takes longer for the job to finish. This can be a problem if you are in a hurry.

UC Santa Cruz - Editorial Style Guide

Official University of California, Santa Cruz editorial style guide.

The UCSC style guide provides the official version of how various entities should be referred to. This is useful for consistency in providing information to all.

Important Official Editorial Style Points

To refer to the UC Santa Cruz campus, please use

  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • UCSC

Please do not use the University of California at Santa Cruz, Cal-Santa Cruz, U.C.S.C. or other hybrid forms.

For the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, please use

  • Jack Baskin School of Engineering
  • Baskin School of Engineering
  • Baskin School
  • BSOE

Avoid using School of Engineering or SOE.

Tips and Other Suggestions

* Print a Proof of your poster, usually 8.5” x 11” is fine, and color is preferred, but quite often black and white will give you enough of a test. To do this, make a copy of your final poster slide file and open it. Go back up to File > Page Setup and reselect “Slide sized for:”, changing “Custom” to “US Letter Paper”. Then print it. Check to ensure all of your graphics actually printed.

Other Tutorials and References

Here is a list of other sites that have provided tips on making scientific posters. These tips have been accumulated over a number of years by observing what posters are successful in presentations and what are not.

* Cornell University

Colin Purrington is a graphics artist and has written a process on scientific poster design for maximum impact.  Colin suggests having others in your group critique the poster prior to printing and certainly prior to bringing it to a conference.  He suggests some interesting ways to do this from hanging in your lab with comments plastered on poster with post-it notes to posting an e-copy on the web with requests for comments.

* Poster Advise from Colin Purrington

* North Carolina State University


We are attempting to develop some templates for folks to start with. If you have one that would us to post, please send to us.

Posting Printing Alternatives

As our poster printing service is subsizided by the BSOE Dean, BELS does not print posters for individuals and groups not associated with BSOE. Also, should the BELS poster printer be down for repair or should BELS not be able to print your poster in time, the following services should be explored.

PBSci Division

The PBSci Division hosts a self-service printer:  available for use by PBSci Division departments only.

Please contact the chemistry department to make a reservation.     831-459-4823.

UCSC Printing Services - No longer printing posters

UCSC printing services consolidated with mail services and stopped printing posters Summer 2011. For other issues they are located in the basement of the Jack Baskin Engineering Building and are co-located with the Post Office (UCSC Mail Services) near the loading dock.

Fed-Ex Office Print Center - Downtown Santa Cruz

FedEx Office Print Center
712 River Street
(Shopping Center with Trader Joe's and CVS)
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 425-1177
Price - 9/27/11 A test poster was submitted to FedEx Office in Downtown Santa Cruz, the cost to print was $94.50 for a 36x48 poster on heavy weight paper. 24-hour advance notice required but sometimes they will waive. Advance payment is required; credit card, check or cash. Submit via Online form.

Real Color - Westside Santa Cruz

Real Color
403 Swift Street Suite C
(near corner of Delaware and Swift)
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 457-0115
They have a number of high-quality poster plotters with ability to print on various types of media. Some lead time may be needed. They do trade show exhibits. While you're waiting for the poster, you can visit Marianne's ice cream plant around the corner or depend upon your day, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery & Bonney Doon Winery are two blocks up on Ingalls Street.

Ross Graphics - Hwy 9 & Harvey West Area - Santa Cruz

Ross Graphics
1003 A River Street (really what most people call Hwy 9)
(North Side of Hwy 1, I think in large Artist Loft Building but we haven't been there)
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 469-7677
The web site claims to shoot for a 24-48 turn around time.

Economy Printing Service - Ryan Ranch, Monterey

Economy Printing Service
2 Harris Court Suite A-6
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 655-5511

Large printing outfit that claims 24-48 hr turnaround and delivery to locations in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. If you're inclined to visit them, Ryan Ranch area is on Hwy 68 between the Monterey Airport and Laguna Seca Raceway.

9/27/11: a 36x48 poster cost is $40.25. This is the basic poster. Additional costs for special services, sales tax, and shipping.

9/27/11: Reported but not confirmed that will do 36x48 for $76 (including cardboard tube and FexEx 2nd day shipping on the same day as requested.

9/27/11: Reported but not confirmed that will do 36x48 for $63 - 1-day turnaround and 2-day shipping.

Mega Print

7/8/14:  requested costing for 36x48 poster.   Located on East Coast.  You'll need to account for shipping time and cost when placing an order.



Copyright Notes:
-- Baskin Engineering Graphics copyright UC Regents and UCSC Jack Baskin School of Engineering.
-- The "Cyber Slug" Logo (Banana Slug with Laptop) is copyright Mike Welles, graphic artist. Mr. Welles gave the Computer Engineering and Computer Information Sciences Boards an exclusive and perpetual license to use the logo. Personnel in departments other than Computer Engineering and Computer Science should refrain from use. History of the Cyber Slug can be found at:

Posters printed for Baskin School of Engineering activities and for conferences should use the official Baskin Engineering logos. The 'Cyber Slug' logo should only be used by posters in Computer Engineering and Computer Science programs. The Dean's Office has encouraged research posters in all departments to use the official Baskin Engineering graphic.

Poster Session Stands and Printer Supplies

Click on link above for information concerning poster stands or easels and supplies needed for plotter. This information is generally helpful for staff running poster sessions and BELS staff operating the poster plotter.

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