# Can I have framed blocks in beamer?

Is there a simple way to have the body of a block environment in beamer to have a frame around it, rather than having a background colour? I tried putting a \fbox inside the block, but it just wrote off the side of the slide... I tried putting the fbox outside the block environment, but that looks mega ugly.

Ideally, I'd like to do this through defining a beamer template with \setbeamertemplate{blocks}{framed} or something like this. So that colour themes and blocks inside columns work nicely.

I looked up the definition of beamercolorbox and it's not pretty...

• You can put a shadow around the bottom and right edge: \setbeamertemplate{blocks}[rounded][shadow=true]. (Not exactly what you want, but maybe it serves the same purpose.) – Alan Munn Feb 16 '11 at 14:03
• @Alan If it's possible to do that, it must be possible to have a simple frame around the block... – Seamus Feb 16 '11 at 14:11
• @Seamus: Well, there certainly does not seem to be an option for that, like there is one for shadow. I believe that beamer just creates a pgf node for the box, so it should be possible to "draw" the node, but I have no idea how. – Jan Hlavacek Feb 16 '11 at 17:21
• Hmm. Well, it might be a little ambitious to dig into the details for my presentation tomorrow, but I am exploring this at the weekend. (If someone doesn't beat me to it). – Seamus Feb 16 '11 at 17:27
• It's a bit of a dig to find where in the many subparts of beamer things are defined. So one has to really want to... :-) – Alan Munn Feb 16 '11 at 23:28

With some serious butchering of beamerbaseboxes.aux I managed to get the following [framed] template for beamer boxes. For easier digestibility, I'll split the code into several chunks and add some comments inbetween. You'll probably want to move some parts to a .sty file.

It all starts, innocently, with

\documentclass{beamer}


Next, I took the code from \beamerboxesrounded, removed the shadow part, changed the drawinging commands a bit and changed some \vskips. First this sets up some colors. Then it sets the title in a minipage (that is saved to a box). Then it draws around the title. Finally it starts a minipage for the main content. The rest of the code glues things together.

\makeatletter
\newcommand\beamerboxesframed[2][]{%
\global\let\beamer@firstlineitemizeunskip=\relax%
\vbox\bgroup%
\setkeys{beamerboxes}{upper=block title,lower=block body,width=\textwidth}%
\setkeys{beamerboxes}{#1}%
{%
\usebeamercolor{\bmb@lower}%
\globalcolorstrue%
\colorlet{lower.bg}{bg}%
}%
{%
\usebeamercolor{\bmb@upper}%
\globalcolorstrue%
\colorlet{upper.bg}{bg}%
}%
%
%
\vskip4bp
\setbox\bmb@box=\hbox{%
\begin{minipage}[b]{\bmb@width}%
\usebeamercolor[fg]{\bmb@upper}%
#2%
\end{minipage}}%
\ifdim\wd\bmb@box=0pt%
\setbox\bmb@box=\hbox{}%
\ht\bmb@box=0pt%
\bmb@prevheight=-4.5pt%
\else%
\wd\bmb@box=\bmb@width%
\bmb@temp=\dp\bmb@box%
\ifdim\bmb@temp<1.5pt%
\bmb@temp=1.5pt%
\fi%
\setbox\bmb@box=\hbox{\raise\bmb@temp\hbox{\box\bmb@box}}%
\dp\bmb@box=0pt%
\bmb@prevheight=\ht\bmb@box%
\fi%
\bmb@temp=\bmb@width%
\hbox{%
\begin{pgfpicture}{0bp}{+-\ht\bmb@box}{0bp}{+-\ht\bmb@box}
\ifdim\wd\bmb@box=0pt%
\color{lower.bg}%
\else%
\color{upper.bg}%
\fi%
\pgfpathqmoveto{-4bp}{-1bp}
\pgfpathqcurveto{-4bp}{1.2bp}{-2.2bp}{3bp}{0bp}{3bp}
\pgfpathlineto{\pgfpoint{\bmb@temp}{3bp}}
\pgfpathcurveto%
{\pgfpoint{\bmb@dima}{3bp}}%
{\pgfpoint{\bmb@dimb}{1.2bp}}%
{\pgfpoint{\bmb@dimb}{-1bp}}%
\bmb@dima=-\ht\bmb@box%
\pgfpathlineto{\pgfpoint{\bmb@dimb}{\bmb@dima}}
\pgfpathlineto{\pgfpoint{-4bp}{\bmb@dima}}
\pgfpathclose
\pgfsetstrokecolor{black}\pgfusepath{stroke, fill}
\end{pgfpicture}%
\copy\bmb@box%
}%
\nointerlineskip%
\ifdim\wd\bmb@box=0pt
\else
\vskip2.4pt%
\fi%
\nointerlineskip%
\setbox\bmb@colorbox=\hbox{{\pgfpicturetrue\pgfsetcolor{lower.bg}}}%
\setbox\bmb@box=\hbox\bgroup\begin{minipage}[b]{\bmb@width}%
\vskip2pt%
\usebeamercolor[fg]{\bmb@lower}%
\colorlet{beamerstructure}{upper.bg}%
\colorlet{structure}{upper.bg}%
%\color{.}%
}


The end command ends the \minipage of the content and draws a line around it (not drawing on the top). Again I removed all the code for the shadow and changed the drawing code slightly.

\def\endbeamerboxesframed{%
\end{minipage}\egroup%
\wd\bmb@box=\bmb@width%
\bmb@temp=\dp\bmb@box%
\setbox\bmb@box=\hbox{\raise\bmb@temp\hbox{\box\bmb@box}}%
\dp\bmb@box=0pt%
\bmb@temp=\wd\bmb@box%
\hbox{%
\begin{pgfpicture}{0bp}{0bp}{0bp}{0bp}
\unhbox\bmb@colorbox%
\pgfpathmoveto{\pgfpoint{-4bp}{\ht\bmb@box}}
\pgfpathlineto{\pgfpoint{-4bp}{1bp}}
\pgfpathqcurveto{-4bp}{-1.2bp}{-2.2bp}{-3bp}{0bp}{-3bp}
\pgfpathlineto{\pgfpoint{\the\bmb@temp}{-3bp}}
\pgfpathcurveto%
{\pgfpoint{\the\bmb@dima}{-3bp}}%
{\pgfpoint{\the\bmb@dimb}{-1.2bp}}%
{\pgfpoint{\the\bmb@dimb}{1bp}}%
{
\bmb@dima=\ht\bmb@box%
\pgfpathlineto{\pgfpoint{\bmb@dimb}{\bmb@dima}}
\pgfsetstrokecolor{black}\pgfusepath{stroke, fill}
}
\end{pgfpicture}%
\box\bmb@box%
}%
\vskip2bp%
\egroup% of \vbox\bgroup
}
\makeatother


Having defined the commands that do the actual drawing work, we need to set up the template. The following code is almost verbatim from beamerbaseauxtemplates.sty, only changing rounded to framed and removing shadow=false. If you want to, you can also remove the \vskip\smallskipamount (as the boxes are lighter, they can probably be placed closer together)

\defbeamertemplateparent{blocks}[framed]{block begin,block end,%
block example begin,block example end}[1][]
{[#1]}

\defbeamertemplate{block begin}{framed}[1][]
{
\par\vskip\medskipamount%
\begin{beamerboxesframed}[upper=block title,lower=block body,#1]%
{\raggedright\usebeamerfont*{block title}\insertblocktitle}%
\raggedright%
\usebeamerfont{block body}%
}
\defbeamertemplate{block end}{framed}[1][]
{\end{beamerboxesframed}\vskip\smallskipamount}

{
\par\vskip\medskipamount%
\raggedright%
}%
{\end{beamerboxesframed}\vskip\smallskipamount}

\defbeamertemplate{block example begin}{framed}[1][]
{
\par\vskip\medskipamount%
\begin{beamerboxesframed}[upper=block title example,lower=block body example,#1]
{\raggedright\usebeamerfont*{block title example}\insertblocktitle}%
\raggedright%
}%
\defbeamertemplate{block example end}{framed}[1][]
{\end{beamerboxesframed}\vskip\smallskipamount}


Now we only have to select the template

\setbeamertemplate{blocks}[framed]


You might want to change some styling (depending on your theme, the defaults might look fine). Here is what I used for the example image.

\setbeamercolor{block title}{fg=black,bg=gray!40}
\setbeamercolor{block body}{fg=black,bg=gray!10}
\setbeamercolor{block title example}{fg=black,bg=green!20}
\setbeamercolor{block body example}{fg=black,bg=green!5}
\setbeamerfont{block title}{series=\bfseries}


An example:

\begin{document}
\begin{frame}
\begin{block}{title}
test

a second line
\end{block}

\begin{block}{}
test without title
\end{block}

test

\begin{Example}
test
\end{Example}
\end{frame}
\end{document}


• I will try out this answer this weekend and then accept! Would it be the same amount of hackery to get the square-edge boxes to have the same frame thing going on? Or is that easy now? – Seamus Mar 4 '11 at 13:04
• @Seamus: Which square-edge boxes. Do you mean to remove the rounded corners? That would mean to alter the \pgfpath... sections a bit (they will get simpler). – Caramdir Mar 4 '11 at 16:45
• I know it is an old answer. However would it be possible to make clear the settings for the radius and the line color? – Hotschke Sep 3 '13 at 15:18
• Or even better extend the answer to use \setbeamercolor and further options for the linecolor, linewidths and radius. – Hotschke Sep 3 '13 at 15:27
• This is excellent work, but it might be worth noting somewhere within the answer that there is now an official(?) package called tcolorbox that can do frames etc. with much less hackery. See @Ignasi's answer. – craq Aug 20 '14 at 11:39

From its announcement in CTAN list (December, 2011)

tcolorbox provides an environment for colored and framed text boxes with a heading line. Optionally, such a box can be splitted in an upper and a lower part. The package tcolorbox can be used for the setting of LaTeX examples where one part of the box displays the source code and the other part shows the output. Another common use case is the setting of theorems. The package supports saving and reuse of source code and text parts.

Next there is an example using it inside beamer

\documentclass{beamer}
\usepackage[listings,theorems]{tcolorbox}
\begin{document}
\begin{frame}[fragile]
\begin{tcolorbox}[colback=blue!5,colframe=blue!75!black,title=My title]
My box with my title.
\end{tcolorbox}

\begin{tcblisting}{colback=red!5,colframe=red!75!black}
\begin{tcolorbox}[colback=blue!5,colframe=blue!75!black,title=My title]
My box with my title.
\end{tcolorbox}
\end{tcblisting}

\end{frame}
\end{document}


UPDATE:

I've played a little bit more with tcolorbox and also read the manual, so I discovered that it's possible to use TiKZ .styles. This way is easy to create groups of parameters (options) and reuse them. Next code tries to reproduce Caramdir's examples.

\documentclass{beamer}
\usepackage{tcolorbox}

% These options will be applied to all tcolorboxes
\tcbset{%
noparskip,
colback=gray!10, %background color of the box
colframe=gray!40, %color of frame and title background
coltext=black, %color of body text
coltitle=black, %color of title text
fonttitle=\bfseries,
colframe=gray!40},
example/.style={coltitle=black,
colframe=green!20,
colback=green!5},
}

\begin{document}

\begin{frame}
\begin{tcolorbox}[title=title]
test

a second line
\end{tcolorbox}

\begin{tcolorbox}
test without title.
\end{tcolorbox}

test
\end{tcolorbox}

\begin{tcolorbox}[example,title=Example]
test
\end{tcolorbox}
\end{frame}
\end{document}


The result is shown in next figure. With Caramdir's solution the frame border is always black and different from title background color. With tcolorbox frame border and title background use same color. I think skins library (see manual) could solve this problem(?).

I seized the ideas and answers of @Caramdir and @Ignasi to create a block template with tcolorbox. Add the following code to your beamer theme file (e.g., beamerthemeFramedBoxes.sty):

\usepackage{tcolorbox}

\defbeamertemplateparent{blocks}[framed]{block begin,block end}[1][]
{[#1]}

\defbeamertemplate{block begin}{framed}[1][]
{
\begin{tcolorbox}[%
colback=white,%
colframe=gray, arc=0mm]%
{\vskip\smallskipamount%
\raggedright\usebeamerfont*{block title}%
\usebeamercolor[fg]{title}\insertblocktitle}%
\vskip\smallskipamount%
\raggedright%
\usebeamerfont{block body}%
}

\defbeamertemplate{block end}{framed}[1][] {\end{tcolorbox}}

\setbeamertemplate{blocks}[framed]


This creates a block template called framed that has framed borders. It does not create alert and example block templates and it does not use the background colors of beamer yet and it does not correctly set the title. All of this could be implemented easily though, if really needed.

• I have tried to use your code, and although it compiles there are no frames around the blocks. Could you tell me if I need to label the blocks as 'framed blocks' after using your code? – Vass Sep 13 '17 at 18:30
• Hm, no, if you set the default beamer template of blocks to framed (second and last line in the script), you should not need any additional configuration. Maybe your border colors are white, if you have a white background? – Dominik Schrempf Sep 15 '17 at 8:24

Here's a proof of concept for an alternative solution that doesn't involve quite as much hackery as Caramdir's solution did.

\documentclass{beamer}
\usepackage{mdframed}
\newenvironment{framedblock}[1]{%
\begin{mdframed}[skipbelow=-1pt]
#1
\end{mdframed}
\begin{mdframed}[skipabove=0pt]
}{
\end{mdframed}
}
\begin{document}
\begin{frame}
\begin{framedblock}{Title}
This block is framed
\end{framedblock}
\end{frame}
\end{document}


It doesn't use beamer's block interface, but it should be possible to make it use beamer colours, with a little fiddling...

The spacing is currently suboptimal. I shall play with that later. Also, mdframed can do rounded corners, so I'll play with that too...