I had been wondering what are the advantages of using LaTeX (specifically the presentation packages: beamer or texpower) over powerpoint for presentations. The advantages which I have seen on the web point to the fact that LaTeX can output PDFs which are platform independent, but even powerpoint can do that. Another point being that you don't need to pay for using LaTeX.

Apart from that why would I want to use LaTeX for doing presentations?

  • 2
    I believe [Beamer](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beamer_(LaTeX)) is what you're looking for to use LaTeX for presentations. Can't help you much with a versus comparison since I've never used it, but there are a few good introductions to Beamer out there.
    – fideli
    Dec 13 '10 at 19:23
  • I tried to show pros and cons below. How can I argue against this "put on hold" in superuser? Apr 22 '17 at 6:26

In a single analogy:


I use beamer every day for my classes (I teach math) and couldn't imagine using PowerPoint/Keynote the same way. But for conference talks or opening-day presentations which are not rich in mathematical notation I like Keynote.

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    I don't get the notation of this answer. Could someone explain it? Jan 13 '17 at 14:06
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    @CalculusKnight: Analogies are used to explain relationships. The single colon means "is to" and the double colon means "as." So a longer version of what I wrote would be "LaTeX (plus beamer) is to PowerPoint as regular LaTeX is to Word". Jan 13 '17 at 15:41

I think that the answer mostly depends on what is going to appear in your presentation.

If you need a lot of math, please use beamer.

If you have Images and you need to make some order on the space you have on each slide, I think PPT is more powerful. The reason is that it often happens that your images on the slide are quite larger than you expected and you need to resize them. With PPt this process is straightforward, with beamer it's very demanding (compiling, checking, re-compiling....).

I've never used Keynotes, I'm sorry.


I'm using LaTeX-beamer-PDF 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 font consistent, complex graphs with overlay effects are possible
  4. Videos, Animations and 3D objects: With the media9 package even embedding of 3D objects, animations and youtube videos into PDFs is possible
  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
  7. Layout: Total control of any layout aspect (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 PowerPointless 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. Costs: Free of them!

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

  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. A cold, sterile and a bit too perfect impression of your presentation might ensue
  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 difficult, 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. ;-)

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 also looking interesting when considering to publish the presentation on the web.


OK, I did a bit more googling and found couple of links with a good comparison:

  1. Keynote Vs Powerpoint vs Beamer
  2. LaTeX and PowerPoint presentations

Main takeaway being if you want to have math symbols in your presentations, use LaTeX (Beamer).


LaTeX is a typesetting computer language. To use it powerfully, you have to really learn it. The learning curve can be steep, particularly if you've been primarily a casual user. It's also considered a markup language. If you've had experience with html, you may find it easier to use. If you are putting together presentations professionally (as it's in your job description), say as a junior analyst or professor, you'll find it to be very valuable. If you're a casual user, or a student doing a project here or there, unless you're doing it for the learning experience, it's much easier to use PowerPoint (or a free alternative: OpenOffice.org's Impress).

That said, there are many templates and examples that can make the presentation creation process much easier.

In summary, it really depends on your intentions and long term goals. I recommend Beamer for a long term learning goal, if it fits into your learning desires or professional needs. As a lifetime learner, I want to learn it myself, and I've made some steps along the way to learning it, but it's on the backburner for the time being.

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