How do I make LaTeX PDF presentations that don't look like cheap PowerPoint?
December 20, 2007 8:00 AM   Subscribe

How do I make LaTeX PDF presentations that don't look like cheap PowerPoint?

I have just begun studying the basics of LaTeX. There seem to be many good docs and packages for creating nice no-nonsense layouts for papers, but I would also like to use LaTeX for on-screen presentations. The problem is that all the presentation packages I've looked at (beamer, prosper, pdfscreen) seem to be founded on the idea that presentations need to have these fancy colorful blocks and bubbles that serve no functional purpose. What I want is a presentation that looks just as simple as any academic paper, but with a layout that's designed for a big screen in front of an audience. How do I do this?
posted by Anything to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Beamer allows you to choose from a multitude of styles, some of which are cleaner than others. There is also the 'handout' option for beamer, which suppresses much of the block&bubble stuff. It produces output like this (link to PDF of my slides for a recent talk). I'd be happy to send you the tex fie if you're interested.
posted by gleuschk at 8:15 AM on December 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


\usetheme{default} on Beamer is pretty damn plain-looking to me. Combine that with \colortheme{dove} all of the colors go away. Of course you're free to make your own layout and color themes, provided you know enough LaTeX. Making a color theme is simple enough. The Beamer user guide is comprehensive.

Even if you can't get rid of the blocks and bubbles entirely, I've found that they are much classier-looking than the crap that comes with PowerPoint. I always got compliments on the presentations that I prepared with LaTex and Beamer.
posted by zsazsa at 8:18 AM on December 20, 2007


Michael Wiedmann has a detailed guide to 'screen presentation tools', including several LaTeX to pdf methods.
posted by lukemeister at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2007


You could also just set the page size to be wider than it is tall, and just make your paper as normal, and you end up with a "paper" which fits nicely on the screen when projected. This very simple solution is here: http://allendowney.com/essays/orientation/.
posted by tractorfeed at 11:39 AM on December 20, 2007


Beamer has a very controllable appearance, and can be made as minimal as you want. Though, at least in the themes I've used, all the extra stuff is actually navigational/organizational tools (and it is clickable). For making a poster presentation once I used the following commands to kill everything but the content (I can't guarantee this is quite the same on the most recent version):

\setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}

\mode {
\usetheme{default}
\usecolortheme{dove}
\usefonttheme{serif}
\usefonttheme{structuresmallcapsserif}
}

posted by advil at 11:57 AM on December 20, 2007


That was in the preamble, I forgot to say.
posted by advil at 11:58 AM on December 20, 2007


I used to make quite presentable overhead slides using the slides document class. I don't know how well it would translate to .pdf display, but it sounds just like what you want---all the goodness of LaTeX but in a bigger font.

You might be able to use the slides class with the geometry package, that lets you set things up landscape. Then I imagine you could get things pretty nice. But I don't know how you'd actually do the projecting. (Do you need to project with your computer, or would overhead transparencies work ok? I use a computer for talks because I like the bells and whistles.

(There also used to be something called SliTeX, but I'm pretty sure it's ancient.)
posted by leahwrenn at 12:02 PM on December 20, 2007


Thanks, everyone! Turns out the more recent versions of the geometry package have a specific option for screen presentations, so this pretty much does the trick:
\documentclass{slides}
\usepackage{geometry}
\geometry{screen}
...
\begin{slide}
...
\end{slide}
...
posted by Anything at 11:35 PM on January 14, 2008


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