Top 5 Beamer Tips

Here are my top 5 tips for using Beamer, the popular LaTeX package for producing slides.

1. Navigation Symbols

I’ve seen hundreds of talks with slides prepared in Beamer. I’ve yet to see anyone use the navigation symbols that Beamer puts at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. These should be turned off with

\setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}

2. Extra Slides

If you include extra slides at the end of your talk, you can stop them affecting the page count (usually shown in the footer) as follows:

\usepackage{appendixnumberbeamer} 
...
\appendix 
\begin{frame}{First Extra slide}
...

The appendixnumberbeamer package might not be included in your LaTeX distribution, in which case you can download it from CTAN.

3. References

You can include references in your slides using the following code, best placed after \appendix:

\begin{frame}[allowframebreaks]{References}
\def\newblock{}
\bibliographystyle{plain}
\bibliography{mybib}
\end{frame}

4. Sections

In a longer talk it can be useful to break the talk into sections and produce an outline slide at the start of each section. This can be done by putting in the preamble the code

\setbeamerfont{myTOC}{series=\bfseries,size=\Large}
\AtBeginSection[]{\frame{\frametitle{Outline}%
                  \usebeamerfont{myTOC}\tableofcontents[current]}}

and then typing \section[short_title]{long_title} between frames, where short_title is used for the headline (the line at the top of the screen that can contain various types of information, intended to help the audience know where you are in the talk). In this code I have increased the size of the font used for the outline and made it bold. If you don’t want the headline it can be turned off with

\setbeamertemplate{headline}{}

5. Columns

A good way to line up graphics side by side, especially if they are of different heights, is with Beamer’s columns environment:

\begin{columns}[c] % Columns centered vertically.
\column{5.5cm}     % Adjust column width to taste.
\includegraphics ...
\column{5cm}
\includegraphics ...
\end{columns}

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3 Responses to Top 5 Beamer Tips

  1. Hi Nick, great set of tips, especially number 5 for lining up figures. Do you have a particular Beamer template you tend to use as a basis for your presentations? I’m one of the developers at https://www.writelatex.com, a free online LaTeX editor, and we’d be happy to feature such an example on our site if you do.

    Best regards, John

  2. Nick Higham says:

    I tend to use \usetheme{Warsaw} with some customizations.

  3. sjgw says:

    Thanks Nick. I implemented 1 and 2 immediately (navigation symbols are gone forever!) and will be using 3 and 5 soon. Steve

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