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FoilTeX with Emacs Org Mode

I have been an Emacs user since the early 2000s, and even before that, a LaTeX user. With the advent of org mode, I was able to combine the efficiency of an Emacs-based markdown language with the mathematical typesetting power of LaTeX.

In my job as a professor, I make presentations frequently. While org-mode handles this nicely with the Beamer class in LaTeX, I longed for the simplicity of the LaTeX slides (foils) that I used to make with the FoilTeX package. So, after some searching, I figured out an easy way to write FoilTeX presentations with org-mode.

How it works

To make this work, there are two basic steps:

  1. You need to edit your .emacs file to include the following code block:
(require 'ox-latex)
(add-to-list 'org-latex-classes
	       ("\\foilhead[-1cm]{%s}" . "\\foilhead[-1cm]*(%s)"))

This code does two things. First, it defines a "foils" class that you can call in an org document. Second, it maps the org-mode list symbol * to the FoilTeX page header \foilhead.

  1. You need to include the following header at the beginning of your org document:
#+TITLE: Your document title
#+AUTHOR: Your name
#+DATE: the date 
#+LaTeX_CLASS: foils
#+LaTeX_CLASS_OPTIONS: [portrait, 17pt]
#+LATEX_HEADER: \MyLogo{Your footer logo}
#+LATEX_HEADER: \setlength{\parindent}{0cm}
#+LATEX_HEADER: \usepackage{amsmath}
#+OPTIONS: toc:nil

Strictly speaking, not all of these lines are required. But for me, they form the core of a minimal, but nicely formatted set of foils/slides. Note that the LaTeX_CLASS_OPTIONS line can include any of the standard class options available in FoilTeX (e.g., landscape], all of which are detailed in the FoilTeX manual.

Example document

Here is an example org-mode file (and the resulting pdf) that demonstrates how I use the integration of org and FoilTeX when making lecture slides for my courses.


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