I'm going to present my senior thesis in front of our faculty members, by using beamer. But rumour has it that some of them do not like beamer very much. So I decided to make my slides not look like made by using beamer, perhaps by making it look like fancy slides made using, e.g., Keynote.

The problem is how to do this. I started by replacing Computer Modern with other fonts that are not associated with TeX, but I think I need more.

If you've presented slides atypical of beamer slides, please let me know how you did it. I'd appreciate your help.

  • 37
    That's just crazy.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:36
  • 5
    If you like sobriety, here's a nice theme: http://uweziegenhagen.de/ (thanks to Brent Longborough, who showed me this link). Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:36
  • 4
    Somehow can not commend the faculty members very much, their act is plain discrimination and borders on racialism.
    – Masroor
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:41
  • 4
    Here you can find some other "non-standard" themes: LaTeX Beamer Themes. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:47
  • 2
    A Keynote-style template for Beamer: ucl.ac.uk/~ucbpeal/latexposter.html
    – user13907
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 1:52

5 Answers 5


But rumor has it that some of them do not like beamer very much.

I imagine that this stems from having seen a lot of (thesis and other) presentations filled with seemingly endless pauses after pages of bullets and enumerations, combined with page-long equations, and paragraphs of quoted texts that are hard to read because they are simply too long.

When giving presentations, I try very hard to minimize the number of words in each frame, and try to make each frame last at least 5 minutes; further more, I try extremely hard to represent ideas graphically using a variety of different pictures to keep the audience from getting fatigued by repetition.

Here's a snippet from a (fairly) recent presentation that I hope illustrates my intent- keep each frame different, with visuals that accompany your verbal description; remember that you are the presentation, and that your slides are there only to support you, and not the other way round.

I don't know if you (or indeed, the community) will consider the following atypical; let the voters decide!


Here's the code:

% arara: pdflatex
% !arara: animate: {delay: 80}
% !arara: indent: {overwrite: yes, localSettings: yes}


% tikzmark command, for shading over items
\newcommand{\tikzmark}[1]{\tikz[overlay,remember picture] \node (#1) {};}

% standard enumeration
\setbeamertemplate{enumerate items}{(\arabic{enumi})}

% default itemize
\setbeamertemplate{itemize items}[circle]

% transparency

% for resuming lists across frames

% title
\title{Accessibility in Mathematics}
\subtitle{A collaborative project}
\author[Leavitt, Hughes]{Scot Leavitt \and Chris Hughes}
\institute[PCC]{Portland Community College}
\date{February 19th 2013}
   visible on/.style={alt=#1{}{invisible}},
   alt/.code args={<#1>#2#3}{%
      \alt<#1>{\pgfkeysalso{#2}}{\pgfkeysalso{#3}} % \pgfkeysalso doesn't change the path




\begin{frame}[label=daytoday]{Where do we start?}

      \begin{tikzpicture}[every node/.append style={cloud,draw,thick,align=center}]
            \node[draw=red,double,fill=red!20, minimum width=3cm,minimum height=2cm,cloud puffs=10, aspect=1.3](formats){Accessible\\ formats?};
            \node[draw=blue,double,cloud,below right=of formats,fill=blue!20, cloud puffs=13, aspect=1.8](mathml)    {MathML?\\MathJax?};
            \node[draw=yellow,double,left=0.75cm of mathml, fill=yellow!30, minimum height=2.5cm, cloud puffs=17, aspect=2](final){Best \\ practices?};
            \node[draw=green,double,left=0.75cm of final, fill=green!20, cloud puffs=13, aspect=3](best){Faculty\\ responsibilities?};
            \node[draw=orange,double,left=of formats, fill=orange!30, minimum width=2cm,minimum height=3cm,cloud puffs=13, aspect=0.9]{Final \\ product?};


\begin{frame}{Input from department}

         What tools do faculty use?

         \begin{tikzpicture}[every node/.append style={align=center}]
               \node[circle,fill=red!30,draw=black,thick,minimum size=5cm](0,0){Microsoft Word\\ 86\%};
               \visible<2->{\filldraw[gray,opacity=0.5] (2.5,0) arc (0:-190:2.5cm) -- (0,0)node[black,opacity=1,anchor=north east,scale=1,inner sep=.5cm] {MathType \\ 60\%};}
               \visible<3->{\node[circle,fill=blue!40,draw=black,scale=1.15] at (2.3,-1){\LaTeX\\16\%};}
               \visible<4->{\node[circle,fill=orange!40,draw=black,scale=0.65] at (2.3,1){Open Office\\12\%};}
            Other tools
               \item Graph
               \item Winplot
               \item GeoGebra
               \item Maple
               \item Excel
               \item PowerPoint
               \item Applets/videos, etc


\begin{frame}{Rule of four}

   \begin{tikzpicture}[approach/.style={draw,very thick, fill=blue!20, text width=5em,
            text centered, minimum height=2.5em,rounded corners=3ex},
         idea/.style={draw, very thick,fill=blue!40, circle,text width=6em,
            text centered, minimum height=2.5em},
         connections/.style={<->,draw=black!30,line width=3pt,shorten <=5pt,shorten >=5pt},

      % Draw diagram elements
      \node (idea) [idea,draw=blue,fill=blue!20]  {Idea or concept};
         \node (verbal) [approach,draw=red,fill=red!20,above=of idea]  {Verbal};
         \node (tabular) [approach,draw=green,fill=green!20,left=of idea]  {Numerical};
         \node (graphical)[approach,draw=yellow,fill=yellow!20,right=of idea] {Graphical};
         \node (formular)[approach,draw=orange,fill=orange!20,below=of idea] {Algebraic};

         % Draw arrows between elements
         \draw[connections] (idea) -- (formular) ;
         \draw[connections] (idea) -- (verbal);
         \draw[connections] (idea) -- (graphical);
         \draw[connections] (idea) -- (tabular);
         \draw[connections] (verbal.west) to[out=180,in=90](tabular.north) ;
         \draw[connections] (verbal.east) to[out=0,in=90](graphical.north) ;
         \draw[connections] (tabular.south) to[out=-90,in=180](formular.west) ;
         \draw[connections] (graphical.south)to[out=-90,in=0](formular.east);



            outpt/.style={->,blue!80!black,very thick},
         every node/.append style={align=center}]
         \node (kaela) at (0,0) {\begin{tabular}{@{}c}Disability\\ Services \\ Office \end{tabular}};
            \node (accessfile) [right=of kaela] {\begin{tabular}{@{}c}accessible\\ electronic \\ file \end{tabular}};
            % Draw background
               % Left-top corner of the background rectangle
               \path (kaela.west |- kaela.north)+(-0.5,0.5) node (a) {};
               % Right-bottom corner of the background rectanle
               \path (accessfile.east |- accessfile.south)+(+0.5,-0.5) node (c) {};
               % Draw the background
               \path[fill=yellow!20,rounded corners, draw=black!50, dashed]
               (a) rectangle (c);
            \node (screen)[above right=of accessfile]{Screen\\ reader\\ accessible};
            \node (braille)[right =of accessfile]{Braille-ready\\ format};
            \node (enlarge)[below right=of accessfile]{enlargable\\ \& other \\ formats};
               % Left-top corner of the background rectangle
               \path (screen.west |- screen.north)+(-0.25,0.25) node (a) {};
               % Right-bottom corner of the background rectanle
               \path (enlarge.east |- enlarge.south)+(0.5,0) node (c) {};
               % Draw the background
               \path[fill=green!20,rounded corners, draw=green,thick]
               (a) rectangle (c);
            \node (source) [left=of kaela,draw=black!50,dashed,circle,fill=orange!30]{Source files};

\begin{frame}{Stand alone concept}

         concept/.append style={fill={none}},
         root concept/.style={concept color=blue},
         level 1 concept/.append style=
         {every child/.style={concept color=blue!50},level distance = 30mm},
         level 2 concept/.append style=
         {every child/.style={concept color=red!50},level distance = 19mm},
         every node/.append style={align=center,scale=0.7},
      \node [concept,font=\huge] {Stand\\ Alone}
      child[grow=0, visible on=<2->] {node[concept] {Source files .tex, .docx}
         child[grow=80, visible on=<2->]{node[concept] {.pdf}}
         child[grow=30, visible on=<2->]{node[concept] {Enlarged}}
         child[grow=-20, visible on=<2->]{node[concept] {MathML}}
         child[grow=-70, visible on=<2->]{node[concept] {.brf}}
      child[grow=-90,visible on=<3->] {node[concept] {Graphs}
         child[grow=0,visible on=<3->]{node[concept] {tactile printing}}
         child[grow=180,visible on=<3->]{node[concept] {alt text}}
      child[grow=180,visible on=<4->] {node[concept] {homework management system}
         child[grow=110,visible on=<4-> ] {node[concept] {keyboard navigable}}
         child[grow=180,visible on=<4->] {node[concept] {screen reader accessible}}
         child[grow=250,visible on=<4->] {node[concept] {vpat}}
      \node at (0,0) [inner sep=9mm,decorate,circle,decoration=
      {text along path,text={Equally Effective Equally Effective Equally Effective  Equally Effective }}] {};
      %\draw decorate[decoration={text along path,text={Equally Effective}}]
      %{(-3,0) arc (135:45:.5cm)};


\begin{frame}[c]{What stands alone?}
   % Which content creation tools stand alone?
         \tikz \node[fill=green!20,draw=green, rounded corners,very thick,inner sep=0mm]{%
                  \item MS Word with MathType
                  \item \LaTeX
                  \item LibreOffice
                  \item Scientific Notebook
                  \item Graphs
                  \item Prepared lecture notes
                  \item Desire2Learn
                  \item WeBWorK
                  \item Videos
            \tikz \node[fill=orange!20,draw=orange, rounded corners,very thick,inner sep=0mm]{%
                     \item[] MyMathLab
            \tikz \node[fill=red!20,
               rounded corners,
               very thick,
               inner sep=0mm,
               %decorate,decoration={zigzag,segment length=10mm,amplitude=2.0mm},
                     \item MS Word OMML
                     \item PowerPoint
                     \item TestGen
                     \item GeoGebra applets
                     \item Flash-based applets
                     \item Other media


\begin{frame}[fragile]{Collaboration is key}
      \begin{tikzpicture}[venn circle/.style={draw=#1,
               very thick,
               minimum width=4cm,
               text opacity=1},
         every node/.append style={align=center}]
         \node [venn circle = red] (A) at (0,0) {Math Department:\\ Content Experts};
         \visible<2->{\node [venn circle = blue] (B) at (60:3.25cm) {Disability Services:\\ Accommodation Experts};}
         \visible<3->{\node [venn circle = green] (C) at (0:3.25cm) {Distance Learning:\\ Web Design \&\\Delivery Experts};}
         \visible<4->{\node[circle,fill=orange!50,draw=orange,very thick,opacity=0.8,minimum width=3cm] at (barycentric cs:A=1/3,B=1/3,C=1/3 ){Students};}

  • 3
    Thanks a lot for sharing it! I am surprised what you can achieve with tikz. This is an excellent learning example.
    – djhurio
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 13:40
  • 5
    I believe that by removing the navigation bar you'd get an even better non-beamer result.
    – Dror
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 5:26

Since the look of your presentation depends more on how you present than on the software you use, let me first give you some hints/rules about presenting.

First Rule:

You are the presentation, not the slides!

The slides are just a helpfull tool to make people understand, what you are talking about.

Second Rule:

Don't use too much words on your slides!

(Remember: YOU are the presentation). People should follow your speech, not reading it. So avoid to read bullet points to your audience - people usually read faster than you talk. This has massive effect on their attention. They won't follow your talk, since they can read all you say on the slides. They will start to talk to each other ... Best presentations are which won't work without your talk.

Third Rule:

Don't use bullet points and don't use tables. If you must use tables, show only a small extract to illustrate what you are saying in front of your slides.

Keep that in mind and you will design your presentation more visually.

Forth Rule:

Use humor! Yes you can present a serious business topic with humorfull slides. I had to urge a sub supplier to be really carefull while programming his system and used a picture of Jurassic Parc (T-Rex attacking Malcolm). They kept my statement in mind and started to avoid the failures i've spoken about.

Is it more work?

Yes, it is a lot more work - you really have to think about what you wanna say instead of saying anything around the topic. And you have to think about, how you present important things YOU wanna have the audience keeps in mind. So don't start to prepare your presentation the evening before!


Some slides of a presentation I gave some years ago.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

How to do that in beamer?

Easy: Use fullpage pictures, turn off the beamer navigation symbols.

I used the well known beamerthemekeynote-vintage.sty and added some code for frames with fullpage pictures as a start. Most of i found on the net.


%Schriften laden
\usepackage{polyglossia}% babel for Xelatex
\setdefaultlanguage{german}% Set the Language for ployglossia
\defaultfontfeatures{Ligatures=TeX,Scale=MatchLowercase} % Set the features for every font, the first enables the usual TeX Ligatures (e. g. --- = —) and the second scales the fonts to the same height
%\setsansfont{Ubuntu Light}
\setsansfont{Myriad Pro}
\setmainfont{Myriad Pro}
\setmonofont{DejaVu Sans Mono} % Use this when using a pre-oneiric ubuntu-font-package (Monospaced fonts were added in Oneiric)



%Hintergrund setzen
\setbeamertemplate{background canvas}{\includegraphics [width=\paperwidth]{Vintage.png}}

\setbeamerfont{structure}{family = \rmfamily}


\setbeamerfont{title}{size = \Huge}
\setbeamercolor{normal text}{fg=textcolour}


\setbeamerfont{enumerate item}{size=\LARGE}
\setbeamerfont{word frame}{size=\Huge}

%%% An imageframe has one fullscreen image as background
%%% and maybe some text on top.

%%% A wordframe has one word (or few) big and centered
  \bf\usebeamerfont{word frame}

%%% A defnframe defines a word or phrase
  \usebeamerfont{title}\usebeamercolor[fg]{box title}\Large #1: \\
  \usebeamercolor[fg]{normal text}\Large\itshape


    \node[text width=.83\textwidth,
    fill=yellow!10, fill opacity=0.8,text opacity=1] \bgroup%

Just a few days ago I posted a template I had created for my girlfried: http://uweziegenhagen.de/?p=2877. Her requirements were "not so Techie/TeXie". The current code needs some polishing, I'll update it during the weekend.

slide example

A while ago I also transformed (with the help of TSX) my firm's corporate design layout from Powerpoint. Without the CD pictures I'll publish this as well. (The white boxes just mask the logo and company name)

corporate design

  • 1
    I like your first template a lot! I'll use it as an inspiration (to the least).
    – Bruno
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 15:03

First thing that comes to mind, really, is to get rid of beamer navigation symbols, because it is a dead give away. You can do that with \setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}.

  • 2
    Maybe. If they really don't like 'beamer'. But probably they don't like beamer i.e. something about it. And that's probably not the navigation symbols (which are pretty small and unobtrusive). But I agree it might help avoid an immediate prejudice against the presentation. Just it won't be enough if their dislike is at all substantive.
    – cfr
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 14:09
  • 3
    I can definitely empathise wiht a certain amount of instinctive dislike of those navigation buttons. Dislike is seldom a rational thing, and it can be that little things like that set your audience against you. Whatever else one does, this is definitely the first thing to do.
    – E.P.
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 0:04
  • 7
    +1, I have yet to see someone actually use those in a presentation. They just take away space and attention. (Thanks for reminding me of the "dead give away" song)
    – jens_bo
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:39

First thing with any academic work is thorough research: never work off rumour! Walk up to them and ask them.

If they're real academics they will automatically be geared toward LaTeX.

If they're not, and this could be the problem if it does exist, they could have been geared toward the sort of gimmickry that .ppt exhibits, with it's vertical/horizontal slide wipes that wipe the information from your mind as they do it.

First, make sure of your information.

  • "real academics" - well, what is that? a philosopher who has no idea of LaTeX?
    – ingli
    Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 8:50
  • No. You'd be surprised at the number of pretenders floating round the campus. Commented Jul 4, 2020 at 4:23

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