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I am giving my first course this fall and, as a LaTeX enthusiast, plan to prepare my slides in LaTeX for all the usual reasons.

For those of you who also do this, I wonder what resources you use to manage your slides for a semester. For ex., do you have one "master presentation" with different "chapters" for different classes or some other strategy?

What's your best practice?

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    Off-topic, and not the fault of LaTeX, but every beamer presentation I have ever seen has been a long list of bullet points. I feel death by PowerPoint is even more likely for LaTeX presentations. – henning Apr 20 at 16:48
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    @henning That's because it's more difficult to write "free-form" content with Latex (e.g., playing around with columns and content position), so people feel more forced to write using those few constructs they know in Latex. (By the way, learning to use blocks is a first way to reduce that effect and add a new structure to lay out content). – Federico Poloni Apr 20 at 18:17
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    If you are teaching for the first time and your material involves a lot of math I strongly suggest considering a blackboard (or whiteboard / similar) to deliver your material. It is incredibly hard to present pre-fabricated math on slides at a pace that is even remotely comparable to the time it takes the students to absorb the variables, concepts, and definitions. The time it takes to write down an equation is a useful speed limit! Go and ask your colleagues and their current students what they think works best for your kind of material. I'd be surprised if their consensus is beamer slides. – user2705196 Apr 20 at 22:26
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    As a fellow LaTeX enthusiast I strongly urge against using it to prepare illustration heavy documents unless you (a) know exactly what you're doing as a graphic designer, (b) sketch out every slide beforehand on paper. Slide presentation software fundamentally differs from text authoring software for a reason, and LaTeX fails to capture this distinction. Typical LaTeX slide decks clearly shows this deficiency. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 20 at 23:06
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I use a different file for each topic. Each file covers 1-2 hours of teaching, more or less.

All files are in the same per-course folder, and their names start with numbers which define the order of the topics, for instance 1-introduction.tex, 2-polynomials.tex, 2.5-rationalfunctions.tex, 3-analytic.tex... If I have to insert an extra topic at the last minute (or in the next year), I can do it by adding decimals like in the example with 2.5. :)

Dates are a bad idea because if you want to re-use the same material the next year you have to change all file names. :) Lecture numbers can also be quite fragile, so I prefer to use topics like this.

I just copy the same preamble over to each file, because I don't change the preamble too frequently. If I had to make more frequent changes to the preamble, probably I'd consider a custom Latex class, but for now it works for me like this so I keep it simple.

I suspect that this works well for me only because I have a good set of tools though: for instance, a file manager that uses natural sort order and an editor that can compile Latex without clobbering the directory with lots of .aux and .log files.

Another tip is: sometimes you notice weak points and mistakes only after giving a lecture. If there is a chance that you will be giving the same course next year, keep a file called notes where you note down all the things you'd like to change.

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    "Lecture numbers can also be quite fragile, so I prefer to use topics like this": well, also order numbers are fragile, otherwise you wouldn't have to add decimals for extra topics (reminds me of the time when in Basic you would number the program lines 10, 20, 30 etc. to leave space for extra lines....). Why then not just dropping numbers altogether and record the lecture order in another file? – Massimo Ortolano Apr 20 at 17:47
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    @MassimoOrtolano Because I like to have my course sorted when I look at it in my file manager, so I don't have to look at an extra file. :) But I get your point, and I understand that this is just a hack, too. – Federico Poloni Apr 20 at 17:48
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    Copying the preamble? Urgh. No doubt lots of people do that, but I have to say I'm surprised that somebody with 25.8k TeX.SE rep does it... to me, not needing to copy anything ever is one of the main reasons for using sourcecode-based languages like LaTeX for document creation. It's not like you need to make an actual style file; simple \include of .tex sources would also do the trick. – leftaroundabout Apr 20 at 21:34
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    @leftaroundabout I don't have 25.8k reputation on Tex.SE; I have 5.1k, and most of them come from questions. :) – Federico Poloni Apr 21 at 7:22
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  • Use \include and/or \input to insert repetitive latex code used in the slides. If you use chapters then you will still want to have a separate file for each chapter.
  • Use git to do version control and backup your slides. This works well for changes through the years. If you put the slides into a public repository (github, bitbucket), your students/other teachers can help you fix typos.
  • Subfolder graphics and other included files.
  • Use a good latex editor that supports code folding and easy navigation of your documents. For example, eclipse (texlipse plugin) is organized into projects (with multiple files) and has a navigation/outline panel with the different sections/chapters/etc.. Even some commercial editors (overleaf) lack this feature! A good document/project navigation panel makes it almost irrelevant whether you use chapters or separate .tex files.
  • \usepackage{beamer} is useful but not the only way to organize your slides. You may also simply write lecture notes and scroll through them while giving elaborations on the board.
  • Make good use of packages like \usepackage{beameraudience} or \usepackage{versions} to distinguish between slides you use in class and the full lecture notes.
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My courses are usually a mixture of blackboard lectures and slide presentations, and along the years I taught more than 10 different courses, with slight changes in each course from year to year.

Given the above, my slides are divided in subfolders by course/topic/year because I need to track of the differences from one year to another.

Some courses have a few topics in common, but there are always differences that justify the creation of different slide decks targeted to each course.

Overall, if you don't have disk space limitations, this structure is quite flexible, but indeed, many folders will contain replicated material.

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So, I have small groups of slides (1,2, or 4 as necessary) about particular topics - then I can tailor a presentation level and content quite rapidly.

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    How’s does this look? Can you give a screenshot of what you mean? – Teusz Apr 20 at 16:02
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    Well, if I want to talk about solar panels, is it about orientation, or output calculation etc so I choose the slides I want and to the level I want. Examples of slides you can find anywhere... – Solar Mike Apr 20 at 16:05
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    Ahh so you organize by topic not eg date of presentation. How do you organize your slides though? Is it into eg folders by topic or? – Teusz Apr 20 at 16:08
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    Folders with the names of topics... Solar is a good one because then there is solar pv, solar orientation, solar thermal.. Solar orientation works for both pv and thermal... – Solar Mike Apr 20 at 16:10

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