[9 December 2009]
For the last few years, I’ve been using Dave Raggett’s tool HTML Slidy to prepare slides for presentations. This has a number of advantages: the slides can live happily on the Web, each slide has a distinct URI so they are easy to point at for purposes of discussion, etc., no proprietary slide format is involved, and I can write the text of the slides in TEI Lite.
From time to time, though, organizers of conferences or other gatherings where I speak ask for a PDF copy of my slides. It’s easy enough to print the slides from Slidy, but the result has generally been disappointing to the organizers, who are sometimes a bit distressed (or am I only projecting?) that my slides are so unlike everyone else’s.
So I generally try to coax my system into producing PDF pages with four slides on a page, preferably in little rectangles, so my slides look a little more like the conventional idea of a PDF dump of a slide set. The need arises seldom enough that I always forget how I did it last time. But sorting through some papers just now, I found that the last time I did this I took notes for the future. If I leave the notes only on paper I’ll never find them again when I want them. So, for the record, this is one way to make four-up slides in PDF from Slidy.
- In the HTML file, wrap the table of contents in a
- Also make sure the header refers to a print stylesheet. (This ought to be generated by my translation from TEI Lite to HTML Slidy, but it wasn’t the last time I did this.) That is, make sure the header contains something like
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="print" href="http://www.w3.org/Talks/Tools/Slidy/print.css" />. This forces a new page for each slide. Not all browsers respect the
mediaattribute, so you may need to try multiple browsers; I have had good results from Opera in this regard.
- In the browser’s page setup (or print dialog, wherever the browser puts it), disable the printing of headers and footers (except for page numbers, if you want them).
- In the print dialog box, when using Opera, I also find it helpful to check the
Fix to paper widthoption. Backgrounds don’t seem to work, so I also tell Opera to print no background. (This too has troubled some organizers, but I can’t help them.)
- Still in the print dialog box, on Mac OS X, select the ‘Layout’ options and choose 4 pages per sheet, with the appropriate Z-shape layout of the sequence, with single thin line borders (or hairline — I haven’t noticed any difference in the output between the two choices). I have managed this on Windows as well, in the dim past, but I don’t remember how I got to the menu that let me select 4-up printing.
It’s helpful to preview the thing for bad page breaks, so you can insert forced page breaks or fiddle with the font size until you get better breaks, but I have no algorithm for this, just fiddle and check until you are satisfied or out of time. Sometimes Firefox has given me better page breaks than Opera, sometimes the reverse; dunno why.