Intro to LaTeX multimedia presentations

As many people know, I have really become a big fan of LaTeX in the last couple years. Earlier this year when I finally decided that I needed to start using slides (like Powerpoint) with my presentations instead of a handout, I actually started to learn how to use Powerpoint. About a week later, I saw Kathryn Campbell Kibler give a presentation made with LaTeX. I could not tell the difference, except that the way she played sound files was a little bit different than what I was accustomed to seeing in Powerpoint presentations. So I asked her how she had done that, and she told me that she had used LaTeX and the prosper package. I had read a few things about this before, but I hadn’t really tried it out. One thing I had not understood from the stuff I had read was how one actually displayed the presentation. The answer: a pdf viewer view supports full screen mode. Your best choice is probably Adobe Reader. For all of the advanced features of pdf to work, you definitely need Adobe Reader, but for more basic features, there are a variety of other programs, e.g. xpdf, which should also work.

So, I downloaded the prosper package from CTAN, and within a few minutes, it was installed, and I was ready to start making presentations. It came with a dozen or so default layout themes. I found the one I liked most, then tweaked it a little bit to my liking, and was quite satisfied. One of the things I liked best was an idea from Kathryn. She had written a few custom commands to conditionally compile the document either as a presentation, handout, or notes. I don’t usually use notes for presentations, so I just left that out, but what a great idea. Now when I mean handout, I mean a real handout, not a miniature version of your slides printed out, like you get with Powerpoint. Of course, with the conditional compilation, you can design your slides and handout totally independent of one another, because you can keep content and layout separate. So my handout is two column landscape. I like this because I can squeeze more stuff onto a sheet of paper, thus saving trees. (Yes, I realize that no handout saves even more trees, but I really prefer having a handout when the audience is a reasonable size (less than 100 people). Having a handout allows the audience to easily revisit a section if they missed a point, and to really scrutinize your data, which I view as good things). You can find an example of the finished product on my . And here is a snippet of the conditional compilation code:

% these are some other presentation packages that one can use
%\documentclass[pdf, nototal, colorBG, slideColor, blackelegant]{prosper}
\documentclass[size=12pt, style=blackred,
% Try me! %% orient=portrait, %% mode=handout, %%
%mode=handout,nopagebreaks,paper=letterpaper, orient=landscape,
display=slides, blackslide, fleqn,leqno]{powerdot}
\pdsetup{ lf=testing, rf=hey, theslide=\arabic{slide}}
\hypersetup{linkbordercolor=[0 0 0]}
\documentclass[11pt, landscape, a4paper, twocolumn]{article}%,titlepage
% two commands to use for stuff that should only appear on slides or handout,
% e.g. I only put references and big tables on handout, and I put color
% figures in slides, and B&W versions on handout
%these two lines redefine onslide, onslide*, and onslide+
\usepackage[small, compact]{titlesec}
\usepackage[labelfont={small, bf}, textfont=small, aboveskip=0pt,%
belowskip=0pt, position=bottom]{caption}
%tells xdvi and dvips the papersize and rotation
%\parindent measures the start-of-paragraph indentation
\oddsidemargin -0.2in
\evensidemargin -0.2in
\textwidth 9.6in
\headheight 0.0in
\topmargin -0.75in
\footskip 0.4in
%%%%% IMPORTANT %%%%%%%%%%
%% in the future always make sure that float page fraction is smaller
%% than topfraction and bottomfraction. I learned this too late this time
%% (i.e., after printing my handouts) - having it too large causes all the
%% figures to come at the end
%the next three lines affect lists
% %these lines affect tables
{\Large \textbf \@title}\\
{\large \@date}%
\title{Context Effects in Spoken Word Recognition%
of English CVCCVC words and nonsense words}
\author{Robert Felty \\
University of Michigan \\}


I will follow up this with a few other posts about presentations in LaTeX.