Software for designing scientific posters?

Any suggestions for the best software for designing posters (2’ x 3’ or 3’ x 4’ size) with text + graphics? I love Illustrator, but I can’t justify the cost for the few times a year that I would use it. Right now I’m thinking Photoshop (but no simple drawing tools), Keynote (will it do large pages?), maybe even Nisus Writer (though it seems to get very confused with lots of text and figure blocks). I’m quite willing to buy something new, but $275/year is ridiculous for a program that I’ll use for less than a week.

For a one-off like that, I just use the tools included at vistaprint’s web site.

I think I wasn’t clear. A “scientific” style poster, with columns of text, lots of figures, tables, etc. Thanks, though.

I use OmniGraffle for that. They offer an education discount for academic institutions and their employees. That makes it an actually quite affordable license ($90). And the excellent LaTeXiT for formula (which I also use for presentations in Keynote). I still cannot believe it’s free. :slight_smile:

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Here are some suggestions…

Have you looked at Pages? Many search hits for “make poster with Pages”

Pages. This is what it’s designed for. (The word processing features were added later.)


I’d also see if LibreOffice Draw might be able to do what you need.

Thank you, all. One of these will work. I had always ignored OmniGraffle because I haven’t had to make a flow chart since high school, but now I see that it is more functional than that.

You might want to have a look at Affinity as well (purchased, not subscription software; free trial period; well-established developer):


There already have been some very good suggestions.

Depending on your needs, you might also consider iCalamus (from Lemke Software, aka the developer of GraphicConverter) and iStudioPublisher (more consumer oriented, so quite simple to use).

Both are available as demo versions.

I would have thought the Affinity suite was the reasonably priced Adobe alternative for this.

But you know Pages in Page Layout mode or heck Keynote once you define the dimensions of the document will offer a lot too.

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When I gave up Adobe’s Creative Suite ($750 a year) I latched on to Affinity Designer. I believe that would work for your but the learning curve is steep. Luckily there are lots of users willing to help out with answering questions. If you need to do pro level photo editing add in Affinity Photo. For page layouts there’s Affinity Publisher. I have to admit that I haven’t really touched Affinity Publisher and have barely started with Affinity Photo, but I use Affinity Designer for a lot of projects. It’s the Illustrator replacement.

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If you choose a monthly Adobe plan you can cancel when your poster is done. You can turn on and off again when you need it.

I am a long time user of Adobe Indesign. I have replaced that with Affinity Publisher in combination with Adobe Photoshop (Photo Plan).

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If you are going to be creating more posters in the future, you might want think of investing in Illustrator. I found some interesting information about working with it at the University Of Michigan’s Library:

Getting Started - Designing Presentation & Research Posters with Illustrator - Research Guides at University of Michigan Library.

If you work in education or are a student, you might be able get a significant discount on Adobe software.

I’ve done many large posters in Pages.

These are all great suggestions, above. I’d plunk down for Affinity Publisher for its very high production quality at an astonishingly low price.

Another alternative, is Curio. It is a mature application with a fluid (think whiteboard) interface and a decade or more of researchers asking for things and being rewarded. All the details seem overwhelming at first but then you realize you just plunk stuff down on a big, very big, whiteboard, clean up the diagrams, move stuff around and produce an excellent PDF or print.


Another vote for Omnigraffle. It has numerous “stencils” with a variety of artwork. I use it mostly for flowcharts. You can move objects around and the linking arrows stay attached.
There is an example on page7 of this conference paper:

Yes nothing comes close when you need flowcharts.

I hope I’m responding correctly …. have you looked at the Affinity family of programs? Designer, Publisher, and Photo. Reasonably priced.