The template produces an academic presentation using LaTeX Beamer . The slide design is minimalist so slides are easy to scan and do not distract from the talk.



  • The font for text, roman math, and numbers is Source Sans Pro.
  • The font for Greek and calligraphic math is Euler.
  • No colors are used in the text (only grayscale) to reduce distraction.
  • Colors are reserved for graphs and alerts.
  • Margins, spacing, and font size are set for comfortable reading.
  • There are no frills at the periphery of the slides.

Title slide

The title slide avoids centered text and is otherwise pretty minimalist. With the command \information{Author}{Date}{URL} the URL of the paper being presented can be specified. When the slides are posted online, the URL also allows readers to go from the slides directly to the paper.

4:3 versus 16:9 aspect ratio

There has been a shift from slides with a 4:3 aspect ratio to wider slides with a 16:9 aspect ratio. This template sticks to the 4:3 aspect ratio.

First, 4:3 slides are more robust. They are easily readable will all projectors, both new and old. By contrast, the text of 16:9 slides becomes very small when they are displayed on old 4:3 projectors.

Second, 4:3 slides are better at presenting supporting information. And slides are here as support, not as a substitute, for what the speaker is talking about. 4:3 slides force presenters to display only essential information on slides—leading to more effective presentations. 16:9 slides are often used to present two graphs at a time, or two paragraphs at a time, or a graph with some side text. This is confusing and possibly distracting for the audience, who does not know what to look at, and may be looking at the wrong part of the slide. 4:3 slides can only display one graph or one paragraph at a time—focusing the attention of the audience on that one piece of information.

Third, 4:3 slides work better on tablets because most tablets have a 4:3 aspect ratio (iPads for instance). It has becomes very common to read or display slides on tablets, or watch online presentation on tablets. In that context, 4:3 slides display better.

Text font

Fonts matter in presentations—just as in papers. The font determines the appearance of the entire presentation. For the presentation’s text, the template uses Source Sans Pro , which is one of the free fonts recommended by Matthew Butterick .

Source Sans Pro is a sans-serif font. This is an important feature for presentations, as sans-serif fonts are more readable than fonts with serif in presentations. Another advantage of Source Sans Pro is that it is not part of typical slide templates (unlike Fira Sans for instance). So it feels new and fresh.

A last advantage is that there is a with-serif font in the Source Pro family: Source Serif Pro . This paper template uses Source Serif Pro, which gives presentations and papers produced by the two templates a similar look.

Math font

LaTeX uses one font for text and other fonts for math. For consistency, the presentation template sticks with Source Sans Pro for roman math. It also uses Source Sans Pro for all the numbers in math, so the commands 1.5 and $1.5$ do not produce different-looking numbers.

There are some sans-serif Greek alphabets, but the letters look unusual and are hard to recognize. So for the Greek letters in math, the template uses the Euler font . These Greek letters look good, have the same thickness as the text letters, and are quite distinctive.

The template also uses the Euler font for calligraphic letters in math. These calligraphic letters fit well with the rest of the text and are very readable.

Font size

The font size is 12pt. It is easily readable but not too big. It follows Butterick’s advice to choose a font size so as to be able to fit about 12 lines of text on one slide.

The template keeps one font size for all text. So the text is not smaller at different levels of itemized lists—which many Beamer themes impose by default but which I find distracting.


The spacing is generous: around one and a half spacing. This adds white space to the presentation, which helps with reading, and it limits the amount of stuff that can be written on one slide. It is fine to have 6–8 bullet points on a slide as long there are only a few words per bullet point.


The headline is in slightly larger font, in small caps, and aligned left. This follows Butterick’s recommendation to avoid centered headlines. The headline stands out, is easily readable, but does not take all the attention away from the text.

The headline is set against the same white background as the text—not against a bright color background. This choice makes the headline easier to read and less distracting.

No frills at the periphery of the slides

A typical slide produced with Beamer might includes the following elements:

  • Outline of the talk above the title
  • Small navigation buttons in the bottom right-hand corner
  • Names of the authors and title of the talk at the bottom of the slide
  • A lot of dark, sharp color at the top and bottom

Such clutter distracts listeners and takes their attention away from the main message of the slide—while conveying no useful information. The audience does not need that information in the middle of the talk. The slides produced by the template are devoid of such frills.

Color scheme

As Butterick says , color should be used with restraint. A lot of colors, especially bright ones, are distracting. To reduce distraction, the template only uses grayscale. The text is in dark gray, but not black to avoid an uncomfortable degree of contrast. The bullet points are in lighter gray, to blend in the background. (The typical, very bright Beamer bullet points should be avoided as they are distracting.) Colors are reserved for graphs and text alerts.


The template comes with a set of predefined alert commands:

  • Standard alert:
    • \al{text} colors the text in magenta.
    • \al[n]{text} colors the text in magenta on nth click.
  • Green alerts (for instance to indicate a positive number):
    • \alg{text} colors the text in green.
    • \alg[n]{text} colors the text in green on nth click.
  • Red alerts (for instance to indicate a negative number):
    • \alr{text} colors the text in red.
    • \alr[n]{text} colors the text in red on nth click.
  • Blue alerts (for instance to indicate a zero):
    • \alb{text} colors the text in blue.
    • \alb[n]{text} colors the text in blue on nth click.

The standard alert is set in magenta, which is a color that stands out but unlike red does not induce anger. Apparently :

Magenta is known as a color of harmony and balance. It’s used in Feng Shui and is often considered spiritual.

Of course alerts should be used with restraint.


An advantage of avoiding colors in the text is that colors in figures stand out.

The template uses a white background for slides because figures have white backgrounds. Figures therefore seamlessly blend into the slide. With a colorful slide background, the figures background would stick out.

There is no need to add a caption to the figure in the template: the slide title makes a great caption.

An easy way to insert figures into the template is to create a PDF file with all the figures that are featured in the presentation. An easy way to do that is to create a Keynote or Powerpoint presentation; insert each figure as a slide background; and save the resulting presentation as PDF. With this method, all the figures have the exact same size. It is also possible to use Keynote or Powerpoint to annotate easily the figures created with an external software (Matlab, R, and so on). (See figures.pdf in the repository.)


It is very easy to produce tables with the template. People sometimes copy-paste table from their paper into their slide. That’s not a good idea since it is not possible to read large tables with tiny numbers on slides. It seems more effective to stick to the same font size, and just present the key numbers from the paper table. If listeners want more details, they will go to the paper.

Section slide

The template has a command to divide the presentation into sections, which adds structure to longer talks. The command \heading{Section Title} produces a simple section slide, which is similar to the title slide but with the section title only. This slide is a good point to stop, recap what you have already showed, and discuss what you will show next. It is also a good point to take questions.

Last slide

The template also come with a last slide, which is a just a gray square, and which is called with \lastslide. The last slide can be used instead of conclusion slides—to say thank you, recap in a sentence what the presentation showed, and discuss next steps or related projects.

Conclusion slides are generally ineffective or even mildly upsetting. The audience has been listening for an hour or an hour and a half: they know what they have just been told. At that point they are happy to go on with their day.


The template comes with a set of pictograms that are easy to use in text mode:

  • \up gives ↑
  • \down gives ↓
  • \flat gives →
  • \then gives $\rightsquigarrow$
  • \so gives $\Rightarrow$
  • \tb gives |