The Project Board

by Naveen Jain and Princesa VanBuren Hansen


In my experience, nothing beats the Microsoft PowerPoint designed project board. While boards can get pricey when you decide to do everything last minute, the final product is far worth the price. Instead of wasting time clipping and pasting scraps of paper, you can spend more time ensuring that your information is up to date and that your project is looking wonderful. You want to make a few changes to your regular slide however to keep the resolution of your project board as high as possible.

PowerPoint 2007 Lesson

1. Click on Design.

2. In Page Setup, click on Page Setup.

3. In Slides Sized For, scroll down to Custom.

4. Enter in the Height and Width values.


· Get the professionals to help you out. I would recommend working with Fast Signs to get your posters done on time. This company can print out both folding and flat boards depending on what you need accomplished. They can provide cardboard and plastic easels as well to hold your board up. Speak with a professional beforehand to get the dimensional information.

· If you plan on having your board fold into sections, you will need to work carefully to make sure no text becomes cut off when you have your board made. You can easily measure your sections by using a couple of features in Microsoft PowerPoint. In View, open Show/Hide and check Gridlines and Ruler for help.


Maintaining the flow of your project board helps your judges process all of your information. While your project board is in no way a research paper, when judges are reading your project board they will naturally follow a path with their eyes. You can make their job easier by giving them a path to follow. Imagine reading a board which begins with the Results and ends with the Introduction. Confusing, right? You will want to build up your project in order to leave an impact on the judges.


· You will be in a good place if you organize your project board like your research paper. Tell a story. On the left hand side begin with your Background, Hypothesis, Purpose, etc. sections. Save the middle for your Methodology and Results sections. Finally, leave the right hand side for your Discussion, Conclusion, etc. sections. This is not a rigid formula. Feel free to experiment with what works best for you and your project’s needs.

· Methodology can be overly complicated, especially for us who conduct biological research. An easy way to simplify your methodology section is with a simple diagram. Using Shape, you can make pictures for each step of your methodology with an Arrow in between.

Font Design/Colors

The text box is a mainstay of the project board. From small picture captions to massive sections of text, your project board will have enough information to publish a small novel. You are going to need a few tricks to avoid overwhelming your audience with text. As I have so often emphasized in this guide, subdivide, subdivide, and subdivide. By giving your judges natural breaks between sections of text, you give them time to relax and refresh before moving on to the next section.

PowerPoint Lesson

1. Click on Insert.

2. Select Text Box in Text. Drag and drop at will.


· Using Text Box, you can click on any Shape and Microsoft PowerPoint will automatically format an appropriately sized text box within your Shape. Instead of fussing around with text boxes which can morph as you enter in text, I recommend laying out shapes.

· Photo citations can be a pain when you are working with limited space on your project board. To save space, click on your Text Box and click Format. Under Arrange, you can use Rotation to make vertical citations which don’t distract from your pictures.

· Readability is everything. If your judges cannot read your project board you are in a pickle. Even if you’ve found the cure for cancer, unless you can communicate your research with the judges you will never get any recognition. Always Bold your text whenever possible and use 20 size font at minimum.


With the right shapes, you can really spice up your project board. Shapes can easily help you break up sections of text on your board (Background, Hypothesis, etc.), create more distinguishable section titles, and make your own custom pictures. If you can masterfully make use of shapes on your project board, you can set yourself apart from the bland chunks of text which make up many project boards at the local Science Fair and beyond.

PowerPoint 2007 Lesson

1. Click on Insert.

2. Under Illustrations you will find Shapes.


· Working with shapes can sometimes be frustrating when you are working with layers. When you choose a new Shape, Microsoft PowerPoint automatically sends your Shape to the front layer. You need to play with Arrange in Format when you have selected a Shape to send shapes forward and backward.

· Shapes are an easy way for even the artistically-challenged to make professional looking custom pictures. In general, you can design a picture in a new window in Microsoft PowerPoint and save your presentation as a JPEG, GIF, or PNG. You can then use Insert and Picture in your main window. This helps you avoid messes when working on your project board.

Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 3:01 PM