Poster Printing


The BCRC Large Format Printer is an HP Designjet Z5400 Postscript. It is spooled on snapper (the BCRC server) and it's name is "farbonta" (which means "about to paint" in Esperanto).

Please make arrangements to access the printer at least 24 hours IN ADVANCE: make an appointment with Steven Brewer to ensure that someone will be available to provide access to the printer.

We charge $3/sq ft. Most people bring a university SpeedType number from their lab for payment. You can also pay by check -- or in cash if you bring exact change. We can no longer accept uCard -- sorry.

Most users should submit their jobs to it the same as any other BCRC printer. Follow the directions in the Printing in the BCRC document before proceeding. As the document requests, please get an account and arrange for billing ahead of time. You should be able to submit your job directly to farbonta from your own computer or any computer in the building. As a LAST RESORT, you can bring a PDF file to the BCRC and I will try help you print it. (See below for more hints on creating PDF files).

I encourage people to use a Page Layout or Illustration program for creating posters, such as Indesign, Illustrator, or Quark. I have written a document with hints for making a poster with Scribus. Scribus is Free Software that is available for Mac, PC, and Linux. Using a Page Layout program requires a different workflow than using a word processor or Powerpoint, but can greatly increase your efficiency and will give superior results. Scribus is already installed on all the computers in the BCRC.

I strongly encourage users to avoid using Powerpoint to make posters. Users may use Powerpoint and submit their jobs to the printer if they want, but please do not ask for support with Powerpoint. Printing posters from Powerpoint is more complicated (due to the non-standard page-setup interface) and is much more likely to result in problems with the output (missing/reversed graphics, huge splotches, text that is jumbled, overlapping, or runs outside its frame). Sometimes these problems can be corrected, but they are often extremely time consuming to address. If you choose to use Powerpoint, you will probably get the best results by submitting the job from your own computer directly to the printer. If you need my help to print and can generate a PDF file that looks correct, there is a good chance (perhaps 85%) that the PDF file will print correctly. See below for some hints on making PDF files.

Please note that Steven Brewer Does Not Hate Powerpoint!

Here is a nice document about making posters in biology which has a lot of useful suggestions for creating and presenting a compelling poster.

The printer is generally stocked with 36-inch paper. As a special request, we can load 42-inch paper. You should create your document using a custom page size with the width set to 36 (or 42 inches) and 0-inch margins. (Note that also the printer specifies 0 inch margins, it can't actually print closer than about .3 inches, so leave a small white border around your poster). The height can be anything greater than 11inches.

If you need to install drivers (Pre 10.6 Macintosh computers generally had the HP drivers already included whereas PCs generally do not) be sure to install the Postscript drivers. We do not support the other printing languages.

When you submit your print job, it will be queued on farbonta, but should not print until you visit 315 Morrill Science Center, by pre-arrangement with Steven Brewer, to check the preview for the submitted job and ensure that it looks correct. To make this happen, we rewrite the postscript file you submit to ensure that these settings are correct in the job -- we think this is working correctly, but by using the printer, you accept the possibility that your job might simply print directly without being previewed and that you will be billed for the results.

Note that farbonta is NOT generally available at night or on weekends. Please make arrangements at least 24 hours in advance to ensure you can access the printer when your job is ready. Provided you have submitted a correctly formatted job, it will generally only take 10-15 minutes to print.

Creating PDF files

If you insist on using Powerpoint and want to make a PDF, here are some hints. Be sure, in addition to creating a custom slide size, you also create and use a custom paper size. If you bring a PDF file that is sized for letter-size paper, your poster will print letter sized as well.

Different platforms offer different ways of creating PDF files. In Mac OS X, when you select "Print", there is an option to save as PDF. Some applications, such as ~OpenOffice, Scribus, (and reportedly MS Office 2007) will also let you export directly as PDF. In Windows using Powerpoint, you will need to have 3-rd party software, such as Adobe Distiller to create a PDF. There are some less expensive options for generating PDF on Windows, but they may give unsatisfactory results. The folks at UIUC wrote this nice documentwith some useful advice. Notice the disclaimer, though.

Notes and Sugestions

It appears documents must be at least 11inches high. Less than that appears to cause problems.