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Formatting Your Poster in InDesign for Plotter Printing

InDesign is the poster- making program to use for plotter printing. Before you begin, be sure to check on the maximum size requirements for your poster session or conference. Stick to the guidelines!

When you open InDesign to begin a project, click File, New Document. InDesign will prompt you for document size. Choose a size that is as big as you will eventually want to print your file. For example, if you want to print a 35x40 thesis poster, orient the poster as landscape, and define the new document size as: length = 210p0 and width = 240p0. The rule is that 1 inch equals 6 InDesign units. Thus, an 8.5 x 11 letter size document is equal to 8.5x6=51 x 11x6=66, or a 51p0x66p0 document.

Some helpful hints and notes before starting:

  • If you are using text in your poster, do the text in Word and bring it into InDesign
  • Never have pictures incorporated in a Word document if you bring it into InDesign.
  • If you are using foreign text, type it in Word and bring it into InDesign, or you can save it as an image in Photoshop and import into InDesign
  • Avoid the font New Times Roman - it will give you a headache when you try to print it.
  • You cannot bring a Chemdraw file into InDesign. Instead you must export the file to Photoshop, save it as an image file, and import to InDesign.
  • Excel graphs are easily imported to InDesign, but Excel charts may pose a problem. To get around this, cut and paste the chart directly into InDesign, or export as a jpeg and import to InDesign.
  • Images should be formatted at 150 dpi

Formatting Your Image for Plotter Printing

In Photoshop:

  • Image dpi can be 150 for normal images, 300dpi for very detailed work
  • Size the image to as big as you will eventually print it on the plotter so that you can adjust the resolution and pixelation at large size. This will give you a more accurate view of what the image will look like when it prints.
  • If you want the plotter to print a precise color, use the color map on the wall above the plotter in Jesup 316 to locate the code. Switch to RGB in InDesign, and type in the color code. Whatever you see on the screen will not matter, because the plotter will print the color you choose.
  • For image printing, in the Print Screen of InDesign, click Printer on the bottom left. Select the plotter. On a Mac, click on the drop down menu on the left and select Print Quality. Choose Max Quality. For a PC, click Preferences. Choose the Device Options tab on the top of the screen. Under Print Quality, choose Max Quality. The plotter will print slower, but the printout will be more detailed.

Plotter Printing From InDesign

(blue numbers correspond to screenshot below)

  • To print your poster to the plotter using InDesign, click File, Print. The print screen will pop up. The print screen is the same for both Mac and PC.
  • In the white box on the left side of the print screen, select the Setup option. (1) At the top of the print screen, set 'Printer Style' (2) to custom and the printer (3) to:
    \\Williams\lw-jesup-316-plotter if you are in Jesup 316 or
    lw_jesup_316_plotter_on_lpr_williams_edu if you are not in Jesup 316.
  • You can see your image positioned as it will print within the size of the plotter paper on the bottom left side of the print screen (4). (This is important --the diagram of your image on the plotter paper is aligned so that the width of your file is the bottom edge of the diagram, but the part that prints first is the right side of the diagram).

If you have created your file in the size that you want it to print, set the 'Paper Size' (5) to 'Custom' if you want to manually define the size, or 'Defined by Driver' if you want the computer to select the proper size for you. With this setting, the plotter will print the actual dimensions of the file you made in InDesign. If you want to print your poster at the size you created it, and be able to move your image around (i.e., align left, right, or center) on the plotter paper, choose Arch E or Ansi E in the 'Paper Size' options and change the orientation (6) and the page position (7) accordingly.

If you are going to use a preset paper size such as Arch E or Ansi E, use the Printer Button on the Print Screen to set it up. It is fine to use a preset that is larger than the actual size of your image. Be sure to use the orientation option on the print screen to then print from the upper left hand corner so that you will have less cutting to do.

  • If you have created your file to be smaller than the size you want it to print, use the 'Scale' (8) option to set the proportions for printing, or click 'Scale to Fit' (9) in order to set the proportions of the image to fit on the 'Paper Size' that you have defined. For example, if you want a 42x60 poster, define the 'Paper Size' as 42x60, and select 'Scale to Fit' in the options. Your poster proportions will appear in the lower left corner, helping to visualize how it will print. To change the portrait/landscape option, use the 'Orientation' option to flip your file around. Remember that text or any images may appear distorted if you enlarge your file. Use Photoshop to retouch.

For Thesis Posters:

  • Check the size requirements for your poster session or conference to determine the dimensions of your thesis poster. You can follow the directio ns above for printing, with a few changes. You want to use custom sizing or the 'Defined by Driver' option to define the paper size. (5).
  • Sometimes this is flawed, and if you are having problems (i.e. the poster is being cut off), try using Arch E or Ans i E, which are standard preset sizes that the plotter recognizes and that work for thesis printing (If you use one of these settings, see the Note on page 2).
  • You want to print the poster in "portrait" orientation (6). This is the first option under orientation, and usually the default for printing.
  • When you hit the print button, it will take a little while for the plotter to begin printing. When it does begin, take a look at which side is coming out first. When the poster is coming out of the plotter, the shorter side should be printing towards you. This typically means that the right edge of your poster prints first. If this is not the case, and you have the length printing first, the orientation is incorrect and the poster will be cut off. You want to stop the plotter from printing a poster that is not right so that you don't waste time and ink. To cancel plotter printing directly, press the cancel button on the right side of the plotter. The plotter will cut off the piece of poster you printed without any commands from you, and you can change your orientation so that the poster prints correctly.