Creating Presentations in PDFLaTeX|
Matt Welsh, Harvard University
This web page is a quick start guide to creating great-looking presentations in PDFLaTeX, a version of LaTeX that generates PDF output instead of DVI. I have been using PDFLaTeX for writing papers for some time, and finally put together all of the tools for making presentations this way as well.
There are many ways to make presentations in TeX; this web page only describes my own setup, based on PDFLaTeX, the FoilTeX package, the PPower4 PDF post-processor, and TrueType fonts.
Here is an example presentation in PDF format generated by this setup. Here is a more complete presentation using this format.
PDF is a near-universal format these days, and the Acroread reader from Adobe has fantastic image and text display quality. Putting Acroread into "full screen" display mode lets you display your presentation live on a laptop or workstation. You can also directly print the PDF file onto foils. PDF also has a number of advanced features -- special display effects, hyperlinks, and so forth -- which are great for presentations.
I used to be very frustrated with the display quality of the various presentation systems out there for Linux. These days I use OpenOffice, which has improved tremendously over previous versions. I have also used MagicPoint, and was generally happy with it -- but rendering figures required that I save them to a (fixed-resolution) GIF or JPEG image which doesn't scale or look very good at different resolutions.
I also write all of my papers in PDFLaTeX, and thought it would be great if I could exploit LaTeX's ability to generate foils to make presentations. This way I can directly cut-and-paste figures or text from my papers into a presentation without having to jump through hoops. Luckily my buddy Rob Szewczyk pointed out that PDFLaTeX could do all of these things. Once I figured it all out, I was hooked!
The TeX code for the example presentation given above is right here. As you can see it's very straightforward - mainly a set of nested bulleted lists and some included graphics and math formulas. But this is only scratching the surface -- with LaTeX you can do all kinds of interesting layouts, macros, and so forth. This example is necessarily quite simple just to show off the main features.
Here's how to get started with your own PDFLaTeX-based presentations.
There are many web sites out there with free TrueType fonts; some of my favorite are at Divide by Zero and Fontpool. The TrueType fonts used by my slide macros (see below) are available in the following ZIP file: fonts.zip. All of these fonts are freely redistributable - see the README file in fonts.zip for more information.
export TEXINPUTS=:/home/mdw/texslidesNote the ":" at the beginning of TEXINPUTS, which allows TeX to search the current directory as well.
Now you're ready to make presentations. The example presentation is one place to start. Note that the example uses an extra style file -- mdwslides.sty -- to provide some additional convenience macros. That file should be fairly self-explanatory. You can also read the documentation for FoilTeX, pdfslide, and PPower4.
To generate the presentation you simply do:
pdflatex example.tex ppower4 example.pdf example-done.pdf mv example-done.pdf example.pdf
I usually use a Makefile to automate this process; an example Makefile is given here.
You now have the file example.pdf which is ready to be displayed. To display this in full-screen mode just choose Full Screen from the View menu in Acroread.
Good luck - let me know if you have any questions!