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st: PowerPoint presentation with Stata

From   Kit Baum <>
Subject   st: PowerPoint presentation with Stata
Date   Wed, 2 Aug 2006 08:36:34 -0400

Nick Cox said

During the recent Boston
users' meeting I kept a rough tally of how presentations
had been produced. A clear majority had used some kind
of LaTeX package and were showing it using Adobe Acrobat.
A smaller group were using PowerPoint. One awkward
character was using Stata only, SMCL files for text
and .gph files for graphs. This seems about par for
the course for recent users' meetings. Until quite
recently some presenters were using acetate foils
for overhead projectors, the last known such cases
being William Gould and myself.

As one of those LaTeX users who was bombarded with questions on "what package are you using for your presentation?!?" I would suggest checking out LaTeX beamer:

(An explanatory note: beamer has a German heritage. Germans use "handy" to refer to what Nick would probably call a "mobile" and I would call a "cell phone". Germans also speak of "beamer" -- not referring to those expensive cars, but to a computer projector.)

At the NASUG meetings, we saw the usual woes of PowerPoint users whose presentations do not quite adjust to the screen size. There are also many cross-platform issues that arise (and PPT is not available at all for *nix). In contrast, beamer requires no special programs beyond a standard LaTeX installation to produce a PDF file which can then be viewed with any PDF viewer, and may even be preinstalled on newer LaTeX installations. And it's all free -- including the 200+ page manual. One of the major advantages of LaTeX beamer is that making a presentation out of a research paper is very easy -- including proper handling of the math -- and it is straightforward to include objects like Stata graphs in the presentation. (I have not tried, but it is supposedly equally easy to include music, animations, etc.)

If you use a Windows machine and would like to check out LaTeX and LaTeX beamer, I recommend MikTeX (, free) and WinEDT (, shareware), but no doubt those who actually use Windows may have other recommendations. The point is that any LaTeX system is compatible with any graphical front-end, and the resulting LaTeX is fully transportable among all types of computers (unlike Word, PowerPoint, etc.).

On a Mac OS X system, I use TeXShop ( macosx/unix_open_source/texshop.html) and the standard teTeX distribution. It's all free, of course. And those fond of the Linux flavor have many good choices available. (Parenthetically, about half the laptops in users' hands at NASUG this year were Macs).

Worthy of note is that apart from some who have indeed presented SMCL- based presentations, beamer seems to be the tool of choice among a number of StataCorp staff.

Kit Baum, Boston College Economics
An Introduction to Modern Econometrics Using Stata:

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