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How to make awesome diagrams for your slides (slideshare.net)
134 points by kikito on July 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

Maybe he should recommend the use of the "LaTeX Beamer class"[1] along with TikZ[2]. I used the duo on different scientific presentations and everything was always properly displayed especially with complex graphs or formula.

[1] https://bitbucket.org/rivanvx/beamer/wiki/Home [2] http://www.texample.net/tikz/

This slide deck was brought to you by Enrique García a.k.a. Kitito[1], who's also the author (among other things) of the excellent "middle class" library, a class-based object system for Lua, and PÄSSION library collection, an OO-layer built on top of the LÖVE game framework.

[1] https://github.com/kikito

[2] http://love2d.org

/shameless plug from a fellow löver.

Hi pygy! :D I plan to do other awesome stuff

Two tips:

Use colors in /addition/ to other indications. Roughly ten percent of males are red-green colorblind and cannot easily distinguish colors that contain these colors (e.g., purple = blue + red = BLUE to them). Also, projectors are usually pretty crappy at colors.

"If PowerPoint ever automatically chooses a smaller font for your text, you have too much on the slide." -- somebody wise

Yes, this is something I should have written explicitly. Your advice is spot on, I should have included a "conclusion" in the colors section saying just that.

Interesting way he counts the colors. Makes sense though, after some thought.

Specifics: slide 34. Formula is (each item is a number of colors):

  fill + text + lines - background
The minimal number would be 2, with text=1, background=1, and no lines and filled shapes. That is the case with pure text slides, typically B&W.

When we draw lines and fill shapes, we may introduce additional colors, or what feels as adding colors to a purely B&W picture. We could also have portions of text and/or background color-coded.

In any case, the author apparently counts the number of additional colors. He suggests the number should be small (no more than 3, see slide 35), in order for the viewer to keep the "color coding" manageable.

Well, I guess, for most scientists, black and white aren't colors.


I've actually started regressing away from PowerPoint back into the 'chalk talk'. There's something incredibly powerful about being able to draw the idea in front of an audience which makes your presentation just that much more sticky, especially in this day of ubiquitous slides. As an additional benefit, I find that I have to put a lot more thought into what actually needs to get communicated when I have to physically write it out. Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin is a great book explaining how to communicate using a pen[1].

[1] http://www.thebackofthenapkin.com/

If you're looking for even more depth on Powerpoint design, I highly recommend Nancy Duarte's slide:ology. All of these tips, more depth, plus the why for all of them.

Presentation Zen Design from Garr Reynolds is another solid Powerpoint design guide.

Very informative presentation, I went through it just for the heck of it and it was very interesting visually. A note on Slide 21 - the text says 4 Maximum Types of Shapes but only 3 are displayed.

That was my subconscious. 4 is the maximum, but I'd actually steer more towards 1 or 2 types when possible. If the diagram is very complex and needs more types, I'd try to split it into several slides.

I saw the slide and the "visual complexity elimination subroutine" kicked in. I'll try to fix that in a future version.

What software do HNers use to make good diagrams? We have one suggestion for TikZ so far, which looks nice, but I don't really want to get out the TeX hammer for every little diagram.

I just used inkscape for the first time last night, worked out pretty well. See the first slide here:


Another thing I experimented with for the first time is doing all the slides in html / css / js. The jQuery-Presentation plugin [1] works as advertised, and with css there was considerably less hairpulling when it came time to start tweaking layouts and positions. The content for each slide is written in markdown. You can see all the source for the presentation here [2].

[1] https://github.com/davist11/jQuery-Presentation

[2] https://github.com/acg/iocopy/tree/master/talk

My slide decks are always in PowerPoint because I usually need to make some complex technical animations that are impossible to do in Latex. So then I just use PowerPoint's shapes, etc. to do it.

(I can't wait for some web-based presentation software so I can finally ditch Powerpoint, but right now, with the extremely limited palette of animation ability on all of them, I'm forced to stick with PowerPoint.)

For papers, posters, and other static media, I use Inkscape, which I love. And every once in a while, for a system architecture diagram that I need to crank out really fast, I'll use Dia, which is much less flexible, but ideal for that task.

I always used whatever real animation tool (Anim8or, Blender, python+svg+ffmpeg) I was most comfortable with and rendered the animation to a non-looping GIF. Embeddable almost anywhere.

If you find yourself out of other options, and Inkscape is crashing on you or you don't like the UI, you can try OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice Draw. It seems to work pretty well for flowcharts, though it doesn't come with very many symbols.

I used LibreOffice Impress over Ubuntu for that presentation.

I try to use the best tool for the job though.

Two weeks ago I had to make a code-based introductory presentation and I used showoff instead ( https://github.com/schacon/showoff ) since it comes with syntax highlighting and the slides are just a text file. It took me maybe a couple hours to learn the ins and outs, but then it was easy.

I've heard that the Mac app is good, too, but I haven't used it yet.

I really liked this. Thanks! Could I get a download link to the presentation that doesn't require me to sign up?

You are welcome, I'm glad you liked it.

Here's a dropbox link. It should be there 2-3 weeks.


My Android App, Edgy, allows you to make graph diagrams suitable for pre-press then using GraphViz on the desktop, and that can be really useful for describing complex relationships.

Nice. Although in slide 36, technically, he's using 4 colors: white, black, red, and orange.

He doesn't count the background as a color though. I'm more confused by slides 55 and 56.

Those slides just apply his "best practices" using the tips in his presentation.

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