I've read that LaTeX can be used also for presentations, using specific packages to make slides in PDF.

But I'm wondering: since LaTeX is a typographic language made to separate content from style, and being PDF a format designed for printing; what are these presentation tools meant for? Maybe I'm thinking about the wrong type of presentation?

What's the reason for using LaTeX for this task?

UPDATE: I'm asking this because I'm about to start making a presentation, and yes, I'd prefer avoiding PowerPoint; I like vector graphics and I was wondering if it's possible to create a sort of vector animation, or anyway something of platform-independent. But I find PDF too static for this purpose (maybe it's just a personal feeling).

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    You can (re)use math and pictures (creates with the likes of TikZ) perfectly.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 0:12
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    To expand a bit on Stefan's answer: PDF is a general-purpose vector graphics language. Keeping everything in vector graphics means text, lines, and images are all clear and consistent no matter what resolution the slides are projected at. Some presentations are made in Illustrator for this reason; others just prefer TeX or need beamer's facilities for table of contents and hyperlinks.
    – Chel
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 0:29
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    The main reason why LaTeX was designed for printing is probably because, at the time, there was no computer presentation (beamer) hardware. The first comparable packages for presentations were based on overhead foils (print em; use em).
    – user10274
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 9:31
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    Just a side note that I have to add to the discussion: I always, always always make sure I have a copy of my presentation in PDF form because I will always have access to a PDF reader. Might not have a powerpoint install, or even a web browser (rules out most HTMl5 presentation type things).
    – jrg
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 0:24
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    Another advantage is that with LaTeX you can generate one or several documents from the same source file. E.g. with a package like beamer you can generate a presentation and lecture notes from the same input. Some input may be used only for the presentation, some input may be used only for the notes, and the rest may be shared. Have a look at the last part of the film on csweb.ucc.ie/~dongen/LAF/LAF.html for further information. The last presentation also explains the mechanism. (Alternatively, read the beamer documentation.:-)
    – user10274
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 7:44

13 Answers 13


PDF is not just designed for printing. It is a format for displaying electronic documents, independently of hardware (printer, screen, e-reader, smartphone, projector etc.) and software (such as the operating system). This format is both good for printouts and presentation, so a good choice as output format.

Presentations with technical or scientific content are often based on documents, very often written in LaTeX also because of it's mathematical typesetting capabilities. It's very natural to use the same tool, LaTeX, for the presentation.

The benefits of LaTeX, such as separating the form/style and the content, portability in source, implementation and output, cross-referencing capabilities and typesetting quality, are great for presentations as well.

As I use LaTeX, I can work on the source using Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X, and I can give the presentation away as a PDF for reading or presenting on a conference, the reader or speaker can use Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, a tablet computer, a smartphone - or a printout.

If I would use PowerPoint - well, I would be pretty bound to Windows Version X with PowerPoint Version Y or a suited viewer, which is also a limit for the reader or presenter.

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    But i wonder if it offers the flexibility that is often required for presentations, for instance to put images everywhere, and even create small animations; and i wonder if it's just possible to create presentations, or if it's also advisable
    – clabacchio
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 0:19
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    @clabacchio Yes. If you have specific questions, just ask here, post a new question for each topic. Images everywhere, no problem (packages esopic, everyshi, atbegshi, textpos, TikZ), animations are possible (packages multimedia, movie15, animate).
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 0:24
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    Well, take a look in the beamer documentation (especially the guidelines for preparing presentations). Notice also that "putting images everywhere" might be exactly what is not advisable. The question is: should your presentation be impressive or informative? (La)TeX is well suited to prepare informative documents (including presentations), which happen to be also impressive for people with a bit of artistic/typographic soul. Most "impressive" presentations (irrespective of the tool used) are prepared to show off and not to convey useful information.
    – mbork
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 0:27
  • @mbork: this is a very good point. I have seen a number of powerpoint presentations that were meant to be informative, and frankly, most were pretty bad. As a consequence, I had very bad opinion about powerpoint. Last year I attended a session where several selected faculty members were presenting for the board of control. I saw there several very very impressive powerpoint presentations. They were not informative, in all cases, the information presented could easily fit on one slide, but they were very impressive. Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 3:00
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    So to summarize the above discussion: If you have something to say, use LaTeX. If you want to hide that you don't have anything to say, use PowerPoint. :-)
    – celtschk
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 9:01

This is simply a longish comment...

I am having some difficulties in trying to understand why you think that way. Let me briefly enumerate your points

1) since LaTeX is a typographic editor not meant to work on the final aspect of the work,

I am pretty sure that made many eyebrows raise after reading that here :) Actually, apart from the fact that LaTeX not being the editor but rather the "language", many typographical rules apply directly to presentations too. You might have seen some presentations with the Powerpoint's default sans-serif font mixed up with Equation Editor's serif-like fonts. They immediately look bizarre and copy-pasted, devaluing its content. For example, this is a simple typographical mistake that you want to avoid. Hence, having its peculiarities, we are still operating in a typography-aware context.

2) and being PDF a format designed for printing.

This is actually confusing since the abbreviation PDF is for Portable Document Format. As you can see, even its name was coined towards the possibility of document exchange. If you print it, you don't need any compatibility or portability etc. anyway. Hence, it is quite the opposite.

Now, extrapolating what you meant from these points, I think you are questioning why we should ever switch to (La)TeX (and probably using beamer package) to produce a presentation that can be produced by Powerpoint or any other WYSIWYG-enabled software.

My take on this is simply due to the fact that they are much more beautiful (personal!) and typographically pleasing (personal!). A big credit goes to the author of the beamer package Till Tantau who also created PGF/TikZ. Many things are already in the right place and merging graphics with slides are naturally supported.

Also, I don't need to carry a 7.1 MB of .ppt file around hoping for compatibility and trying to get the animations working or making sure that the movies have the proper codecs etc. (combine the presentation with VLC Portable and you are, 99% of the cases, good to go). If you are slightly fluent with the respective packages, this method solves a lot of problems by itself and you can simply concentrate on what you are trying to say. Many things that are seemingly missing from these tools are actually bad for presentations anyway. You really don't need clapping noise or badly scaled clip-arts here and there.

I have actually used only once ever, the slide transitions and other attractions when I was addressing some company's big shots. I wanted to impress them (oh boy, so did I) and I used the Impressive script for the bling-bling part. Just try it; I don't like those things in presentations but it is indeed impressive :). But, surprise surprise, I had to spent 5-10 minutes of precious meeting time on explaining how I did it. So in that perspective, served its purpose? Nope!

Rule of thumb is: Don't try to impress the audience with gadgets etc. if you need their attention drawn to the content.

You might say "Well OK, how about creating slides? It's a pain in the rear bumper to put a single logo over that corner of the page and details like that makes it super difficult, whereas in Powerpoint you just click and it's there."

I think that is a valid point against LaTeX based presentation preparation in general. However, after a few attempts you simply get many things working and most of the stuff is not required anyway other than some logos and a few words here and there.

Obviously, you need to try it out and see it for yourself to decide.

  • @percusse do you have some sample pdf+vlc presentation to show me? or any kind of animated presentation, i'm curious about the result!
    – clabacchio
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 15:38
  • @clabacchio I've checked some DVDs but there is nothing much after my stolen laptop. Still, you can either use [movie15](tug.ctan.org/pkg/movie15) package to specifically tell Adobe to reach for a plugin or you can call VLC from Acrobat. I will try to find what I have done exactly but not much hope.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 21:01
  • @clabacchio By the way here is another topic that we tried our way through under Mac OSX
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 21:10
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    I read this as: "If you've got content, say it with LaTeX. If you haven't any content, why are you there? (And if you have to be there, but have nothing to say, use Powerpoint in the hope that no-one notices)." If my reading is right, I completely agree! Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 11:57
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    @AndrewStacey Indeed :) See the celtschk's comment to Stefan's answer. I think both of you summarize the point quite cleverly.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 16:00

There are plenty of good reasons to use LaTeX for presentations.

For me, a key reason that I havn't seen here so far is this:

  • Consistent tools. I use LaTeX for my regular work. I need an easy way to get my "printed" work into the presentation. LaTeX-beamer allows me to do this very easily. All the way to publishing it on my homepage.
    This in particular includes the various functionality ranging from formulas, code excerpts to any other LaTeX extension.

  • Focus. On the contents, not on the presentation. Once you are used to LaTeX presentations, Powerpoint pretty much looks like a drawing program to you, instead of a presentation tool.

  • Quality. Even with "just" screen resolution, LaTeX just looks more polished.

As for PDF. It is designed to give a guaranteed result. I know plenty of people that always keep a PDF version of their presentation around, just in case that PowerPoint again screws up. Heck, I've seen Microsoft engineers do their PowerPoint presentation in edit mode, because switching to presentation mode would screw up the text positions. Plus, the PDF can easily be put online. And even more: pdflatex with the hyperref package will not just create a dumb PDF, but actually a cross-referenced PDF.

As for being static. I never use animations in my presentations. They tend to distract people from what I'm saying. And after all, it's not a slideshow, but a talk.

Some additional benefits:

  • Consistent screen and print versions. With little effort you can use the same source to produce both screen versions (with overlays) and print/handout versions (no/reduced overlays). The print quality will be up to your usual standards.
  • BibTeX for easy citations in presentations. Even with a link to the publication.
  • Includes. You can easily build multiple versions with overlap, if you structure your input data appropriately. For example, you can have multiple chapters, and build either a single big presentation (for reference), or per-lecture excerpts easily. This can be useful on many levels, e.g. including "about us" slides easily, sharing chapters or topics across presentations etc. All without copy&paste - fix an error in one place, have it fixed in the other place, too. Include some additional material as backup slides for your presentation version etc.
  • Programmable. You can even write programs to generate your slides. Or plots (this is where I mostly use it).
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    I did save my thesis presentation in PDF! :)
    – clabacchio
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 14:51
  • I use it predominantly for my lectures. Using pgfplots/TikZ/Beamer for uncovering plots, explaining graphs it is so much easier
    – Leeser
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:47

To me it's all about the math. If I'm giving a talk or lecture with a large amount of math in it, I will want to use beamer so I can do it in LaTeX.

Another big advantage to beamer over WYSIWYG presentation apps is the programmability of LaTeX. You can copy-and-paste code or write macros to eliminate repetition. You can produce slides and handouts from the same source file. And so on.

If it's a non-mathematical presentation I will use Keynote, and let me just defend apps of its sort. I think that many of the objections people raise to WYSIWYG apps are the fault of poorly prepared talks using WYSIWYG apps. Gratuitous animations and transitions can be distracting, but these effects can also be used well. So maybe one advantage to LaTeX as a presentation editor is that it makes it harder to make a bad presentation. On the other hand, I have seen several talks prepared with beamer which are just the article on the screen in slightly larger type, so it's not idiot-proof.

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    Yes, in fact i was reading some resources about creating presentations, and i was going to do anything but a super-fancy one, but i just had that feeling of 'staticity' of PDFs...
    – clabacchio
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 19:18
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    @matthew: I widh I could upvote your answer more than once ! IMHO, it's so much more concise than all the others, and still it does contains the exact amount and diversity of information needed to answer the question !
    – Gyom
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 18:46

For me having PDF output is a huge advantage. I've seen many times where PowerPoint presentations did not show up right (mostly font issues), and sometimes the person presenting it getting quite desperate about it. I've never seen a PDF talk have such problems.

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    Not all pdf viewers support all festures of pdf. For example, using javascript for stepping through slides, works only with acrobat reader (at least on linux, no other viewer supports these transiions)
    – Aditya
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 12:09
  • But doesn't PowerPoint allow you to export a .pptx file to a PDF?
    – Mew
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 13:29
  • @Mew: Note the year that answer was written in.
    – celtschk
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 7:00
  • @celtschk Sure, but a quick Google search shows that PowerPoint 2010 already had support for PDF/XPS publishing. Hence, by 2012, "having PDF output" and "PowerPoint presentations" were not mutually exclusive.
    – Mew
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 10:04

I will add a different answer from the vast majority here. I am an (very) old time TeX user. Albeit Beamer and Tikz are great achievements, I would like to warn especially new users. The web is full of articles about beamer, saying basically "look how simple it is to write your slides". So I will insist on the flip side of the coin.

My point is: they should say rather "how fun it is" because it may definitely not be simple nor fast (however it can be fun!).

First, no, it is not that easy. Whenever you have something non trivial to write down, you need to resort to the complex TeX language (unless someone knowledgeable has already solved your problem). In the end you use more brain power to typeset your slides than to think about what to put in them. Because the TeX world is a complex world, with lots of intricacies.

All the beamer presentations look the same (and actually, not many themes are acceptable to me). You may wonder why ? Try to design your own theme. Not impossible, but not for the newcomer either. It takes a lot of time. Even when you know TeX. Only academics can hope to defray the learning costs over a very long period of time (IMHO).

Secondly, I have beamer slide decks that take several minutes to recompile with LuaLaTeX. And whenever I do it, I have to check I have not introduced some glitch somewhere, in which case I need to recompile.

It is slow and it requires a lot of attention that would better be used somewhere else.

My answer today is not PowerPoint (or Impress), albeit it is definitely easier than the beamer route. I'm using reveal.js to typeset HTML slides. Not perfect, but a lot easier than beamer and MathJax can render the maths. Javascript is also easier to play with than the TeX language. And the source text for the slide is markdown : it is not cluttered with TeX macros everywhere (I have slides with much more TeX/beamer/Tikz code than with actual text!)

Finally, I don't understand the PDF argument: my PowerPoint is perfectly able to save a slideshow as PDF.

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    Welcome, you aren't forced to use beamer to do the slides. beamer adds stuff like overlays, and other fancy things. If you don't need that, you can modify a simple article document. An asnwer of mine has a link to an article about that topic: \pause in KOMA-script scrartcl
    – Johannes_B
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 17:13

The answer to this question depends on your idea of what a presentation should be.

If your presentation is going to be a heads-up version of a mathematical paper -- i.e. mostly text and math -- then obviously Beamer is the right choice. But for me personally, presentations are visual aids that assist in conveying information that I am delivering orally and also perhaps through a handout. They are not "documents". Therefore a document processing language is not the optimal solution.

My usual workflow is to map out what I want to say during the presentation and figure out how much of that is best represented orally, best represented in printed text, and best represented visually. The oral stuff is spoken. The printed text is printed on a handout. Everything else goes into the presentation (for which handouts can be made available).

Under that philosophy of presentations, I find Keynote to be a better tool than Beamer. Any mathematics that I want to include in the presentation in a visual format, I can create using LaTeXiT and pasting into a Keynote slide. And if I have text and graphics to put up, I just drop them in and move them where I want them. Once the presentation is done, just export to PDF.

As Matt Leingang points out, you can make a terrible presentation in Beamer and a great presentation in Keynote -- it's not really about the software but how you use it.

  • The converse is also true. I made a presentation in Keynote with LaTeXiT drop-ins and the presentation was a disaster, in no small part due to how easy it is to abuse Keynote (and Powerpoint for that matter) by putting things wherever you like. The benefit of LaTeX is that it makes you think, and if you're good you can still put stuff wherever you like. That slight resistance paid off in a subsequent version of the aforementioned presentation, which included animations.
    – qubyte
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 11:33
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    I would agree in most cases that "a presentation is not a document," my biggest exception being a class lecture. In that case everything I would put on a chalkboard should be in the slides. But for general presentations, I believe strongly that the slides should not be able to stand alone. If everything is in the slides, what value do you add standing in front of it and reading it? PS: First time I've seen you on TeX.SE. Welcome! Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 12:58
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    No, a presentation is a document. It is stuff that is to be viewed, and that's all a document is. What's the difference? I find beamer helps me enormously with preparing presentations because whatever is on the beamer slide is what the students/audience can see and therefore the only thing that I know that they are aware of. They won't read the handout until after, they'll forget what I say straight after, but the visual stuff is right there, right in front of them, and therefore the Most Important Part. Get that right, the rest follows. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 11:54

One of the key benefits of LaTeX as a presentation tool is that it helps one focus on the content of the presentation and promotes consistent formatting. The content is the most important part of any presentation but it often seems as if it gets sidelined to fancy formatting.

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    Beamer helps you to plan the structure of the talk in terms of sections and subsections. The structure can be shown to the audience by automatically generating a table of contents slide which highlights where you are in the talk. Powerpoint has nothing like this Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 18:00

There are many similar examples in the history of Computer Science where people tried to stretch and extend tools that were familiar with and use them beyond their original intent rather than inventing or learning new tools. My favorite (being a Unix fun) is sed&awk vs Perl. Even though Perl was designed in part to obsolete those two classical Unix tools and it is definitely far more capable glue (general?) programming language it failed to kill sed&awk. As a mater of fact we even have two extensions of awk (original nawk extension and newer gawk extension).

As pointed before PDF unlike PostScript was designed to displaying electronic documents. It is not a programmable language (at least not by humans) unlike PostScript but it is very good for all sorts of electronic documents. Since you can easily process a TeX document into PDF you are immediately in business. Don't forget that historically TeX presentations were not competing with PowerPoint but with overhead slides. Check out slides LaTeX class for example.

As somebody who is PostScript (read PSTricks) bias I use Powerdot (the final output is also PDF) rather than Beamer (TikZ/PGF). I would also suggest that you look at little helper programs like Impressive which can greatly enhance static/(or with over layers) PDF slides. Including video (I like to use MATLAB to create it) and audio into your presentation is trivial with hyperref package and you are practically limited only by your PDF viewer (I like MuPDF).

Here is a fairly complete comparison of screen presentation tools. Bare in mind that the author of the article is not fully familiar with all listed tools.

As someone who firmly believes that TeX has been successfully stretched beyond its original intent into superb presentation tool I will list an example were TeX due to its design limitations was not so successful.

Many of you frequenting this site are musicians and are well aware of Music TeX and its "failure". I personally use LilyPond to type music. The secret is that TeX produces fairly symmetric output (yes Don talks about liturgies in the TeXbook but notes are much worse than letters). As professional musicians will testify scores do not look nice if they are symmetric hence LilyPond.

  • +1 for the mention about Lilypond and MusicTeX, I've always wondered about them.
    – imnothere
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 6:52

At the risk of getting downvoted ...

Why should I use LaTeX for presentations?

Most likely you should not. Beamer encourages bad presentation practices.

This is not just about Beamer vs PowerPoint. It is about writing markup vs designing graphically.

Let me quote from one answer here:

Focus. On the contents, not on the presentation. Once you are used to LaTeX presentations, Powerpoint pretty much looks like a drawing program to you, instead of a presentation tool.

But presenting well is precisely about ... good presentation. You already have the content. Now the question is: how do you present it effectively? Arguably, a good presentation should be designed, not written, so a drawing program is precisely what you need for it.

It is certainly possible to make good slides with Beamer, but if you give someone both a markup based and a graphical designer based system, and ask them to make slides, guess which one will end up with:

  • Just text and text and text, typically bullets in a single column.
  • Figures always arranged in a boring grid without any flow that shows relationships.
  • Irrelevant or distracting information that shouldn't be there, but the person had the urge to fill the template.
  • Things that should be said will be written instead.

One argument for Beamer is the ease of writing equations. This question was originally asked in 2012. Since then, both PowerPoint and Keynote have come a long way. They both have good equation editors which can be used (I'd say are best used) with LaTeX syntax. You will still feel at home.

Of course, Beamer does have its place. It can be great for teaching math, if you already decided that you do not want to use a blackboard. I can also see how it makes it easy to generate information-dense handouts—but then you might ask yourself if you are really creating a presentation or lecture notes? However, in practice, there often isn't time to create both.

However, for a presentation where you need to get the message through effectively in a limited amount of time, where the audience is actually listening to you instead of just reading slides, do consider using a "drawing program" like PowerPoint. There are good open source ones too. You would end up using a drawing program to make the figures for a good Beamer presentation anyway.

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    You might be right here and some points are very valid, but in my experience using PP to create text-heavy slides is also common practice. Personally, I would say that if you know how to make good presentations the tool plays a subordinate role. And for me, being used to TikZ the benefit from creating consistent slides with visually designed content is neither much worse nor much better than using PP (except for being able to reuse graphics in lecture notes later on).
    – TeXnician
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 11:48
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    @TeXnician If you know how to make good presentations the tool plays a subordinate role. Grave in stone.
    – yo'
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 11:49
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    Though I agree with your main points (the presentation must be designed visually, and Beamer makes it too easy to do the wrong thing — but even Powerpoint does this to some extent), I have tried Beamer, Powerpoint, Google Slides etc., and I find that the best tool for designing a presentation is actually none of these but the ultimate drawing program: paper and pen. After having planned the presentation completely (e.g. draw roughly what each slide will look like, move the pieces of paper around etc.), then one can start to use technology to achieve the desired visual outcome. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 7:32

I'm using beamer because of its comprehensive and partly unique features:

  1. Math: With LaTeX the best mathematical layout is available
  2. Sketches: With the tikz package any technical sketch or diagram is possible
  3. Graphs: With the pgfplots package you font consistent, complex graphs with overlay effects are possible
  4. Videos, Animations and 3D objects: With the media15 package animations and youtube videos, even embedding of 3D objects into PDFs is possible with pdflatex
  5. Overlay effects: With beamer you can overlay even between formulas and tables
  6. Hyper linking: With beamer you can link and connect anything, formulas, table of contents and beamer-buttons
  7. Layout: Total control of any layout aspect (through (La)TeX, at least theoretically)
  8. Self-contained: All information, all layout controls in one single text file and all media content embedded in one single output file
  9. Standardised: With the PDF output format you are independent of proprietary viewer formats and software versions! (I started with beamer after I was forced to present my PowerPoint presentation with a different PowerPoint version: Some formatting changed and my animations didn't run!)
  10. Typography: The default beamer layouts and font selections guide you in good presentation techniques (not too cramped, etc.)
  11. Availability: The tools are standardised, cost-free and easily available on many OS, LaTeX is the standard in scientific publishing and there are no licensing or patent issues nor software lock-in.

But I'd also like to mention possible disadvantages of beamer, compared to WYSIWYG solutions, for example, Libre Office's Impress or PowerPoint ;-)

  1. The learning curve is steeper, but excellent tutorials and user communities (TeXamples e.g.) are available
  2. Command syntax is harder to memorise and type, but the LaTeX and beamer manuals and references are excellent and widely available.
  3. Image positioning remains somewhat cumbersome :-/
  4. When mitigating point 3. and placing images automatically, a sterile and a bit too perfect overall impression might ensue (at least for my taste)
  5. Often corporate presentation templates are not available for LaTeX (but it's worth to redo them in beamer ;-) )
  6. Sharing with WYSIWYG content is only partly possible, the majority in business environment is using PowerPoint :-(
  7. Expressing oneself in a mark-up language like LaTeX compared to WYSIWYG is brain dependent and might be more difficult for some humans. If you enjoy programming anyway, go for beamer!
  8. Often the process of editing, compiling and evaluating the change in your document takes longer. But this improved much with auto-reverting viewers and faster CPUs, besides there are now WYSIWYG environments for LaTeX available TeX SE question.

By the way, I'm using now org-mode to write my beamer presentations (and anything else textual) to save myself some of the cumbersome aspects of the LaTeX language among other advantages.

By, by the way, lately I discovered Reveal, the html presentation framework. Which is looking interesting when considering to publish the presentation on the web or want to exploit some interactive graphical javascript capabilities 6.

  • @Joseph Wright: thanks for the formatting hints Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 10:45
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    IMHO point 4 of your list of disadvantages is invalid: the same can happen with other software, too. :) Point 7 of the first list says it all: the author is in charge of the appearance and not the software. :)
    – cgnieder
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 14:55
  • @clemens: You're right with the 4th disadvantage, I edited it to make my point clearer. Thanks Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 20:18

For me it is one huge advantage and one disadvantage.

I prepared series of lectures about Perl programming. The outcome is I got beautiful, and extremally well-looking slides, but... this took me A LOT of time. A single lecture, which was prepared in OpenOffice Impress was usually done in few hours (with some scripting, because oo is ugly and requires way too much clicking), where the single lecture contained about 50-70 slides. The same thing done in LaTeX took me up to eight times longer. Of course, I'm newbie, and I had to Google for every single thingy.

First lecture which I have prepared was written by me for about a week of daily work. The second one has taken only few days. But even now, after several iterations and more slides, it takes me enormous amount of time, and I just can't do if faster. Of course I'm a beginner, so that's the reason. So for me they are pros and cons.

  • Pros - beautiful slides, just awesome fonts and general good looking, simply kicking ass and so hell nice that I'm amazed.

  • Cons - time! (even with copy/paste it require up to 8x times longer), another one is error-prone, because I usually have to type perl code with much escapes inside... For example even single line like this: $a = "$b{x}\n"; forces me to write ugly latex code similar to \$a = "\$b\{x\}\textbackslash{}n"; - which is just unreadable.

So, I would love to use LaTeX for some less technical slides, with more simple text typing. For programming languages it serves me moderately easy.

  • 6
    (There are much easier ways to get code into LaTeX documents, including presentations - which partially proves your point: when you know how to do it, it's quick. When you don't know, it's slow.) Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 11:30
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    Being a teacher of computer science, I can feel your pain. By now, I actually have completely given up on slides for teaching material. I'm using the chalkboard instead, which is very much more time-efficient as far as preparing the content is concerned, but it is also a bit frustrating. and not very good-looking !
    – Gyom
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 18:59
  • @Gyom: I've gone the opposite way. I have actually completely given up on the chalkboard for teaching material. I'm using slides (beamer) instead, which is very much more time-efficient as far as preparing the content is concerned, helps me organise my lectures far more than "chalk and talk" ever did, and is "good looking" (in my ever-so-humble opinion). Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 11:52
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    @Gyom, try using minted in beamer. You will never want to go back to presenting code in powerpoint/impress or on the chalkboard. There's nothing better than syntax highlighted code for teaching programming related stuff.
    – recluze
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 13:36
  • @recluze, try out Python's ipython notebooks. I've recently seen awesome presentations, including code to be run (and modified!) on the fly. On my ToLearn list now...
    – vonbrand
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 14:51

It occurred to me that there could be another reason to use TeX for presentations, which is of course applicable to all TeX documents: the convenience of using source control and diff tools to track changes to the document.

That is likely possible with most of the other formats, but it usually works best with plain text of course.

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