Short notes about presentations with LaTex

A few notes about how I use LaTex to prepare my presentations. This article will be expanded over time.

I am using LaTex now since several years for my presentations and want to put the most important take away messages out there.

Nice packages and themes to use for presentations

  • lmodern: for nice font appearance
  • metropolis theme: nice starting point to make a custom theme
  • siunitx: takes care of proper unit and number formatting
  • apsectratio=169: option to pass to beamer to get away from the awful default 4:3 ratio

Generate templates for your slide layouts

You will have slide layouts which repeat over and over again. For those you want to create shortcuts in your editor of choice (e.g. through Snippets in Sublime Text). Down the road this saves you a lot of time.

Dynamic figures in slides

While you can obviously use onslide and pause commands to make the content of your slide appear step by step, this sometimes becomes tricky with more complex figures. I usually generate them in Inkscape and export different versions of the same sized figures with the content for later slides put to 25 % opacity (use separate layers for quick definition of a groups opacity) as pdfs. Later on, in latex I include them in latex through:


For each version of the figure you will now have a new pdf page and you can make the figure fully visible with explaining its components.

Use pympress for presentation mode

One of the biggest drawbacks in the beginning was for me that there is no obvious way how to run your presentation in a dual screen presentation mode. For this pympress is the perfect tool. Simply install using pip install pympress and open your compiled pdf from the terminal using python3 -m pympress <filename>.pdf. Everything else this tool does is pretty self explaining. To include notes for you, do the following in the document:

\setbeamertemplate{note page}[plain]
\setbeameroption{show notes on second screen=right}

\note{say "hello" now}

Use inkscape for complex and dynamic illustrations

If you have a very important presentation and a lot of content to cover in short time, you most probably want to do a bit more then the simple illustrations offered through plain LaTex, pgfplots, or tikz. For this purpose I would then externalize the creation of vector graphics to inkscape. Before you start creating a slide, determine the font, font size, and all colors you are using in your presentation. Afterwards generate a new document in inkscape and set the page size to the content area size of your beamer presentation. For a 16:9 presentation this would be approximately 140 mm width and 70 mm height. Now you generate all the content of the slide and afterwards save it as a pdf.

To make content appear on the slide step by step, use the command chain shown above. In inkscape I would generate layers for the different content and use the layer opacity and blur to make the upcoming content semi-visible. I usually would use 50 % opacity and 20 % blur. By this you have complete freedom of when and where the content should appear.

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