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Complex Equations in Keynote

By: Mich Donovan

Recently, I was preparing some sample video lectures for a course on statistics. The instructor had prepared PDF slides through LaTeX which were a departure in style from what we usually produce with Keynote. The main reason? It’s difficult to express complex equations with Keynote’s basic text tools.

Through some trial and error, I figured out a way to get the best of both worlds. I’ll preface that I’m not at all fluent in LaTeX, which means that just about anybody should be able to do this.

I was working with a pre-existing .tex file provided by the instructor. With a fresh install of LaTeXiT installed, the .tex file would not even compile as it was calling associated files and libraries that I didn’t have in place. It’s alright, you probably don’t need those. Open up a new .tex file and copy the following code to get your document started:

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 3.16.43 PM
LaTeXit Interface


If you’re pulling equations from another LaTeX file, look for code that is bookended by $$s. Copy over to the new .tex file the first equation you want to include in the Keynote. It might look like this:

x = a_0 + \frac{1}{a_1 + \frac{1}{a_2 + \frac{1}{a_3 + a_4}}}

With the output set to “Display”, click “LaTeX it!” in the bottom right of the program. This will generate a formatted image of the equation.

Right click on the image and select “Copy the image as” and then select “PDF.” You can then paste this directly into your Keynote presentation. Since its pasted as a PDF, it scales as a vector image so you can resize the image in Keynote to be as big or as small as you need without a loss in quality. Simply repeat this process for each equation you wish to include in the presentation.

LaTeX offers an incredible amount of options for formatting and styling and this is just a small look at solving a specific problem. If you’re looking to experiment, this link assists in generating code for your equations.

Categories: Video Production

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