I particularly like the Beamer template system, in particular because of the hierarchical relationships between different settings, the separation between fonts, color, and style of each item, and the ability to provide multiple choices of predefined settings for an item.

So I was thinking about making a document class for a thesis what would be customizable in the same way.

It would be nice to have a separate beamer-templates package similar to the standalone pgfkeys package that one can use to have pgf-style key value parameters without using pgf itself. But as far as I know there is no such package.

So is it possible to use the bare bones templating system of beamer without beamer itself?

  • What sort of answer are you after here: 'yes' seems a bit short but a full package is a bit much. The LaTeX team are very much thinking about 'templates' in this regard: one of the jobs for 'real soon now'!
    – Joseph Wright
    Jan 28, 2017 at 12:41
  • Well, for example, can the Beamer template code be extracted fairly easy should I want to try? Or, maybe it is fairly easy to emulate with some clever use of pgfkeys..
    – gigabytes
    Jan 28, 2017 at 12:48
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    No it is not fairly easy. E.g. beamer can customize an itemize list only because it has redefined itemize. And similar for all other objects. Imho quite some work is needed to get a usefull system. Jan 28, 2017 at 12:54
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    Perhaps with xtemplate, but definitely not out of the box!
    – user31729
    Jan 28, 2017 at 13:24
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    You may try to include the file beamerbasetemplates.sty.
    – Symbol 1
    Jan 28, 2017 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


As noted in comments, the beamer template system 'set up' in all contained in one file, beamerbasetemplates.sty. One could extract the concepts from that file in a relatively straightforward way. (The file itself depends on the overlay concept in beamer so cannot be loaded directly without some set up/modification.)

However, most of the 'real' work of a template/style sheet concept is putting the appropriate 'hooks' into all of the definitions used in a document, not the code to define templates. In beamer this is done by (re)defining the entire document architecture to include \usebeamertemplate and so forth in the appropriate places. This is the 'real work' and is non-trivial. The LaTeX team are actively looking at these concepts: current experiments such as xtemplate or the 'LaTeX Data Base' (unreleased) are useful but somewhat old: in light of ideas including the beamer template approach, CSS, pgfkeys, etc., the team are working on new/modified ideas which should address this area.

(Note that the 'beamer team is currently me, and as I'm also involved in LaTeX3 work I'm more keen on a new approach informed by beamer than simply extracting out the current code in a way that is unlikely to be widely taken up.)

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