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I used to work as a consultant and have been spoiled with nice looking slides. For instance, being able to create slides that have 2, 3, or 4 graphs (perfectly positioned and with nice headers!) at the click of a mouse button via macros.

Similarly, there are many other kinds of word slides that had multiple columns, etc. that would be nice to recreate as well as objects like "main point" boxes at the bottom that summarize a main point and ways to add a transparent highlight to any part of the screen.

Is this kind of functionality far beyond anything that LaTeX presentations can do or is there an archive somewhere of code for making more intricate presentations?

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I my humble opinion, LaTeX doesn’t offer any solution to this that would be on par with modern slidewares. Which is also the reason that slides (and spreadsheets) are the only documents that I don’t create in LaTeX. – Konrad Rudolph Dec 22 '10 at 16:01
@dchandler Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Perhaps you need to turn the question around, post a couple of images of what type of slide you wish to recreate in Beamer and ask if it is possible. Although ppt can create flashy slides in most cases they distract from a structured presentation. Certainly with Beamer you cannot do it at the click of a mouse. – Yiannis Lazarides Dec 22 '10 at 16:34
@dchandler: This sort of functionality is not beyond LaTeX and there are people out there doing wonders with Beamer everyday. I use Sylvain Bouveret's awesome-looking themes (recherche.noiraudes.net/fr/LaTeX.php). And sure, you can perfectly position your graphs within columns and minipages, but probably not at the click of a mouse button ;) – Jimi Oke Dec 22 '10 at 19:07
@dchandler: Perfectly positioning 2, 3 or 4 graphs on a slide is relatively easy in LaTeX, as Jimi wrote, it can be done with columns and minipages, or, if you want to have complete control over where they go, you can use tikz package and place the graphs exactly where you want them inside a tikzpicture environment. You can program your editor to insert the graphs at the click of a mouse button, too. Dtto with columns, boxes etc. A static transparent highlight at any part of screen should be easy to achieve with tikz, a one that you could move around may be harder – Jan Hlavacek Dec 22 '10 at 22:20
For some general ideas about getting a message through, and some specific ideas about placement and re-usability (for, ie., slides), and for general food for thought, I recommend wathing this TUGtalk by Jean-luc Doumont. – morbusg Dec 23 '10 at 13:14

In addition to what's been mentioned, there's a number of cool beamer presentations, with source, here: http://www.texample.net/tikz/examples/tag/beamer/

This is another good example of what can be done with beamer:

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Slade: Well, then you're back to this post as it's already the top link on Google ... – Hendrik Vogt Jan 11 '11 at 11:25
Sorry about that; I still have a one-URL-per-post limit. This is the one I'm talking about: latex-beamer.sourceforge.net/beamerexample1.pdf – emacsomancer Jan 11 '11 at 14:07
Slade: Thanks for including the link! (By the way, my comment was just an observation and not criticism; I found it interesting how fast stackexchange pages make it to the top of Google searches.) – Hendrik Vogt Jan 12 '11 at 12:34

Two column layouts are actually pretty easy in Beamer. Transparent boxes can be done in Beamer pretty easily. Here's a link to a presentations that contains several drawings that I think would actually be tricky to accomplish in another presentations software, but in Beamer I was able to do by integrating Beamer with Tikz. http://student.johnpdaigle.com/PDFs/route-recovery.pdf

The graphs that run through multiple colors/labels are actually single slides in Beamer, with notation to turn various bits of Tikz and Beamer code on and off.

Other advantages of Beamer include being able to use the same equation and algorithm code you use in other LaTeX documents. I tend to split most aspects of my documents into multiple files for exactly this purpose, so that I can isolate definitions of problems or special equations to multipurpose them in different documents. And example of how this works is in this repository

Compared to others, my TeX code is not very sophisticated, but I think I get some very nice effects. For one thing, I was able to build the 30-slide presentation in that repository in under two hours.

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In terms of colour choices, beamer provides themes of different flavours. Consider scrolling through the beamer theme gallery or the beamer theme matrix.

These both list the styles available in many of the available themes so you can pick and choose whichever you're interested in or is appealing to you/your audience.

Positioning using a drag-and-drop or click approach is not something provided by LaTeX in general. However, since it is a macro language, you can write such functionality to your own specifications.

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