Poster Printer FAQ

Reserve a Poster Printing Slot

Q: What should I bring when I come to the lab to print my poster?
A: You should come prepared with your PennCard, Copy Card(if you have one), the file you're printing, and any poster tubes you want.

Q: What kind of paper do you have?
A: We print on a sem-gloss photo paper. You can see samples are in the lab.

Q: How much does it cost to print a poster?
A: Effective March 7, 2015, we charge $0.03 per square inch ($4.32 per square foot) to print a poster.  PennCash is the only accepted method of payment. Be sure to bring your PennCard or a Copy Card with the appropriate amount of PennCash. Deposits can be made at http://penncash.com/

Q: I'm using funds provided through a school department. Where do I turn in my paperwork?
A: Take this paperwork to the Van Pelt Business Office(Room 240) and you will be issued a PennCash Copy Card that may be used in the lab.

Q: Are the posters archival quality?
A: No. Our papers are not archival, and we use dye-based inks which are not waterproof or fade-resistant. The poster printer is primarily intended for student work. For archival-quality printing, you may wish to check out Stockbridge Fine Art Prints (319A N. 11th Street, 215-629-4040), TAWS (1530 Locust Street, 800-551-2341), or an online service.

Q: Do you have a high-resolution version of the Penn logo I can use on my poster?
A: We recommend not using a Penn logo that you simply downloaded from a generic Penn webpage, because when printed at poster-size, the image can appear fuzzy or pixelated. The University provides higher resolution versions of the Penn logo and shield "for members of the University community in applications supporting the University's mission." Please see logo images and usage guidelines.

Q: Can I mount or laminate my poster in the lab?
A: No, we do not offer this service at present.

Q: Will you design a poster for me?
A: No, but we can help you design it yourself. If you are interested in having your poster designed for you, you may want to check out Biomedical Art & Design (215-898-0874) located Room 79D of the John Morgan Building. They provide professional poster design and custom drawing services for a fee.

You can also download templates for creating your poster in PowerPoint. This saves you a lot time in designing your poster, but can lead to a "cookie-cutter" poster which will look like everyone else's. The Biomedical Library has created Penn-themed PowerPoint Templates you can download and use. You can find additional free templates for common poster sizes online at places like PosterPresentations.com, Genigraphics.com, or PosterSession.com. Or search Google for additional templates.

Q: Can I trim my poster?
A: The lab's paper cutter handles sizes up to 54". Longer posters can be cut manually in the lab with scissors.

Q: Can I print 10 copies of my poster?
A: No. Unfortunately we are not set up as a high production facility. We ask that you limit your printing to only 1 copy.

Q: How long will it take to print my poster?
A: This varies depending on the size and resolution of the file, but usually about 90 minutes from when you start printing. That being said, the poster printer is a popular resource, and it is not uncommon to have several people waiting to print. We strongly recommend planning to print your poster at least 48 hours in advance of when you need it. For your own sake, please don't wait until the last minute!!!

Q: Can I reserve a time to come into the lab to print my poster?
A: Yes. All poster printing is now handled via online our online reservation system. (See instructions elsewhere on this page). We no longer print posters to walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis.

Q: Can I email you a file and then pick up the poster later in the day?
A: No. We are a self-service lab. Please bring in your files and we'll be glad to help you print it in person. Once you've sent the job to the printer, you can leave and pick up the poster later if you don't want to wait.

Q: Do you provide cardboard tubes I can use to safely transport my poster?
A: No, please bring a tube or other protection for your poster with you as per your need. As of this writing, you can buy a sturdy mailing tube (4" wide by 42" long) for about $8.00 on campus at either the UPS Store (3720 Spruce St., 215-222-2840) or Campus Copy (3731 Walnut St., 215-386-6114)

Q: I'm not happy with the way my poster turned out. Will you reprint it for free?
A: Because we charge only a fraction of what other places charge, we cannot reprint posters for free unless the printed colors are unreasonably different than the colors on the monitor, or if we make a mistake when printing your poster for you. For this reason, please ask the lab consultant for help when you print your poster, rather than trying to print it on your own. If you require reliable color reproduction, you should print a test strip first, or have your projects printed somewhere that offers a color-calibrated output.

Q: What other poster printing options are available on campus?
A: Penn's Biomedical Library offers a poster printing service similar to ours (with the same pricing, but with additional payment options), available to UPenn faculty, students, staff, UPHS staff, and affiliates by appointment only. See their FAQ for more details. Both FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's) (3535 Market Street, 215-386-5679) and Campus Copy (3907 Walnut Street, 215-386-6410) provide poster printing services. FedEx Office can print on vinyl as well as paper. Both stores can also laminate your poster.

Q: Can I print 4x6 prints of my photos at the lab?
A: You can certainly use the lab to print the photos, but a local camera store would actually be cheaper and faster for normal-sized prints. They usually charge about $0.20 for a 4x6 print. If you were to use our poster printer (which is the only thing we have approaching the quality of the prints that a camera store makes), we would charge $0.72 for the same print (we charge $0.03 per square inch). If you're printing your photos as 8x10 or larger, then the lab starts to become the better bargain. However, please keep in mind that the prints we make are not water-proof or light-fast, and they'd need to be cut out by hand from the roll of paper we print on.

If you just want regular prints, go with a local store (for example: CVS in the food court at 3401 Walnut Street. Ritz Camera even lets you upload your photos to their website (http://www.ritzpix.com/) and then pick them up a local store at your leisure.) If you're interested in poster sized images, though, the cost savings probably makes it worth your while to stop by the lab, and we'll be glad to help you out.

Q: What printing options do I have for smaller sized posters and flyers?
A: We can print letter (8.5x11"), legal (8.5x14"), and tabloid (11x17") in the Media Lab, and there are similar options elsewhere in the library. Check out the printing page for some of the options.

Technical Questions

Q: What file format should I use?
A: We can handle most common image file formats: TIFF, JPEG, PNG, Illustrator (.ai), PDF, Photoshop (.psd), etc. We do not support Microsoft Publisher. If you want to use a file format not listed here, please ask us.

Q: What font should I use on my poster?
A: Use standard fonts such as: Arial, Courier, Garamond, Helvetica, Palatino, Times New Roman, and Verdana, which are easy to read. If you use a non-standard font, we recommend rasterizing the text if the design program you are using supports that feature in case we don't have your font installed on our workstations.

Q: What resolution should my file be?
A: We find that 150dpi provides a good balance between file size and print quality. For example, a 24" x 36" poster should be 3600 x 5400 pixels. Posters printed at higher resolutions are often too large, cause printing problems and can tie up the print server.

Q: Why did the images on my poster turn out fuzzy when I printed it out?
A: Images with a low resolution (100dpi or less) will appear fuzzy and pixelated when enlarged. This is common with images you may have downloaded from the web. Use images that are at least 150dpi at their final size.

Q: Are there any special considerations when printing a poster from a PowerPoint slide?
A: PowerPoint was not developed as a print layout software package. It is important that the proper steps are taken to ensure your file will print successfully.

  • When designing in PowerPoint, never "copy and paste" image graphics into your file. Always "insert as picture."
  • There are occasionally inconsistencies between the screen version of your slide and the printed output. These include text shifting or wrapping to the next line, or colors appearing somewhat differently than they do on your monitor. If these issues are of concern, we suggest using software designed for handling print layout, like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop, all of which are available in the Digital Media Lab and on all computers in the Information Commons.
  • Avoid using preset pattern fills for graphs and other objects as they may not show up clearly.
  • "Ungroup" all graphs, charts, and formulae generated outside of PowerPoint after insertion to prevent printing errors.
  • All symbols must be "inserted". After placing your cursor in a textbox, go to the Insert menu, then choose Symbol and select the symbol you want to place in your file. If the symbols are not placed in your file through the Insert menu, they may not print.
  • We strongly recommend exporting your PowerPoint slide as a PDF, JPG, or TIFF, preferably on the same computer you used to create the slide, before bringing it to the lab for printing as a poster. Make sure your final file is at least 150dpi at the size you wish to print it. (for example, a 24" x 36" poster should be 3600 x 5400 pixels.) All Information Commons computers provide this functionality. We also recommend bringing your original PowerPoint file to the lab, just in case of any problems.

Q: Wait! I have more questions!
A: Feel free to call us (215-746-2661), email us (wic1@pobox.upenn.edu) or stop by the lab and we'll be glad to answer any other questions you have.