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ICRC2003 poster

Making big posters in straight LaTeX

At the Tsukuba ICRC I promised a number of people I'd write up a little summary on how to make a poster suitable for a conference using nothing but plain LaTeX. Pretty much like the one I presented (which you can find here as a PDF for reference) and which you can see on the right.

The strategy is as follows: you make the poster as a latex-file from a template (provided below) in an intermediate size, until you are happy with the content and the layout. Then you scale it up to the desired final size (or you scale it down to make a png for a web-page or to make letter-sized handouts or such).

Doing it in these two steps ensures that things like fonts are increased in size as appropriate for a poster.

Step 1) The LaTeX file itself

First, get the poster template, the CIT logo and a dummy image file. This should be all you need to get started. At this point you should run a test:

latex CITposter.tex
dvips -Ppdf -G0 -o CITposter

(That's a "zero" after the "G", not an "oh")

It needs to be turned directly into a PS-file instead of previewing the DVI with something like xdvi as some of the ps-tricks won't work in the DVI and require the whole thing to be postscript. The -Ppdf -G0 parts ensure that scalable fonts are being used and ligatures are properly embedded. I advise against using pdflatex as it seems that that cannot be forced to use scalable fonts and thus produces ugly output when enlarged in the second step.

At that point, you ought to be able to preview your masterwork using something like


I think that the tex-file is reasonably well documented, so you should be able to produce the document itself from here. Just make sure that you're setting the \layoutwidth and \layoutheight parameters to something that'll produce the desired aspect ratio in the end - and don't worry about the exact size or margins or such just yet.

Step 2) Turning it into a poster

Once you're reasonably comfortable with your ghostscript preview, get the poster_resize script and scale your output to the desired final size like this:

poster_resize 2.8

This is a csh script, so if the path to your c-shell is something other than /bin/csh you'll have to adjust the first line in that script by hand.

The "2.8" in the above example is only a suggestion - this seems to produce decent legible fonts in my experience. It means you should have done your layout at 1/2.8 the desired final size. Since the PS file uses scalable fonts (and not bitmaps) this should produce nice output at any magnification.

The poster_resize script rescales your PS file, computes and inserts a new appropriate Bounding Box, adding a half-inch margin in the process so that the result can be sent directly to the plotter. It also generates a PDF file of the same scale, which is often more appropriate for tranmission over the net as PDF tends to be a lot smaller than the equivalent PS.

The plotters here at SRL seem to top out around 90cm paper width, but the \usepackage{rotate} will give you all the tools for making wider posters by producing them in landscape format (obviously limited to 90cm height in that case).

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