Using OpenOffice.org Impress templates

I recently gave a talk presenting my research progress at the University. Everyone in my lab uses beamer and LaTeX, I am however of the opinion LaTeX is very restrictive with its formatting when it comes to presentations. For documents the structured approach of LaTeX is awesome. But for presentations I would rather have the flexibility of a point-and-click interface. Gives you a lot of room to present things the way you like.

So now to the object of this post, I chose OpenOffice.org with the ooolatex plugin as my office suite of choice. I ended up creating a template to suit my needs, and this post is just to document my thoughts/reasons behind the design.

Anyone can download and use the template from here here as long as they agree and adhere to this Creative Commons license.

Firstly I should mention that my template relies quite a bit on a proper setup of user data within OpenOffice.org. When you open the template you start with 2 slides, the title slide and an empty slide. The title slide picks up the name from the user data and inserts the current date below it. I left a blank line between the two anticipating you might need to put the institution you are associated with in the title slide. ;) It ends up looking somewhat like this;

For the colour scheme of the slides, I have 2 types of master pages. The one titled “Research-talks” is basically a white page with a thin line at the bottom (the same as the title page). You might want to use this for the title or end slides or for slides in between major sections or for slides with figures requiring lots of screen real estate.

The other 3 has a light blue header with a dark blue title. This is good for outline slides, general comparison tables, bullets, basically almost anything. :)

For the subsequent slides you will see the date in the lower right corner, your name (taken from the user data) in the lower middle, and the page number on the lower right corner. You can include your Institution with your name by going to the “Page Number” from the Insert menu and editing the footer texts.[1]

Now lets layout the 2nd blank slide as our outline slide. I chose the “BlueOutline” master page for this. With all the changes I mentioned above it should look something like this;

Now comes the cool part. I wanted to use some transitions but wanted to be platform independent. So I came up with some simple ways to create the illusion of transitions while keeping the platform independence of the template.

NB: If you give presentations only from your laptop and soft copies of your slides are not exchanged between different people, you can skip this and go with old school transitions.

For the next slide choose to duplicate the previous slide, and select the “GreyOutline” master page. Now select the first bullet and change back the colours to the original blue and black. While presenting this allows you to take your time introducing your talk and yet keep everyone informed about the general flow of the talk! Essentially this is the same slide as before. ;)

Now for subsequent slides you can choose “Default” from the master pages and pick styles that suit your taste.

Now lets include some figures and pictures in our presentation. I have put some preset object styles for everyone’s convenience. To easily access these, turn on the “Styles and Formatting” tool from the Format menu or pressing F11 (on GNU/Linux). Now if you select “Graphics Styles” you can see a bunch of styles[2] you can select and select the “fill” button on top to use them with appropriate objects. You don’t have to set them every time! I will show some examples below.

Drop shadows:

Red outlines:

Arrows:

And a sample of all the little styles I have tucked in that list. ;) I will keep updating these from time to time in subsequent versions.

Hope you liked using the template. And don’t hesitate to ask if you think you found a bug. :)

[1] I still haven’t figured out how to insert custom fields in a slide. Then I could use the user data to fill in these details.

[2] If you set to display the styles in “Hierarchical” view, its easier to see which style derives from what, making it easier to find something that meets your needs.

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  1. Thank you for another fantastic post. Where else could anybody get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

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