Beamer Article Mode Does Not Save Paper?

Since the first FLOLAC I learned to use the LaTeX Beamer Class and I like it. Among all the features I like is the “article” mode with which I can produce handouts. I’ve seen people printing pages of slides and I think it is terrible. It is more sensible to distribute the article formatted handouts to students and use the slides for the classroom only.

Indeed, the Beamer User’s Guide said, “In general, the article version of a talk is better suited as a handout than a handout created using the simple handout mode since it is more economic and can include more in-depth information.” The key word to me was “economic”. “It’s easier to read, and it saves paper!” I thought.

Since April this year I am taking a leave for University of Tokyo as a visiting lecturer, teaching a course on Software Construction. Now that I am preparing some course material every week, I happen to notice that the article mode does not save paper!

My previous FLOLAC lecture consists of about 135 slides (not counting the overlays). If you print 6 slides per page (which seems to be what they do with PowerPoint slides), that’s about 23 pages. If you print 4 slides per page that’s about 34 pages. The material formatted in article mode, on the other hand, is 40 pages long.

I checked my previous lectures. Numbers of pages of handouts in article mode is always bigger than the number of slides divided by 4 (not even 6!).

If you format the article in two column mode, now the number of pages needed roughly equals the number of slides divided by 6. However, you need more efforts formatting them. In my slides, what fits into a slide sometimes doesn’t fit into a column in two column mode.

So, the article mode does not save paper!

Is it easier to read? Well, one may argue that the typeface, the kern, the … typographical things I don’t understand are more suitable for reading. But I could also imagine people arguing that seeing the slides help to recall what happened in the lecture.

So… perhaps at least the article-formatted handouts are cheaper to print? We don’t waste ink printing the same dark-backgrounded header of every slide.

Or perhaps the real value of the article mode lies in “include[ing] more in-depth information.” You may put more comments and references the students can look up, which need not be shown on slides to students.

Do you like the article mode, and why?

1 thought on “Beamer Article Mode Does Not Save Paper?”

  1. I don’t use article mode because it is less printed than the slides, but because all looks structured better. Also, due to some color, it uses far less ink. Additionally, I often add a lot of content into the article handouts that is not on the slides, but that I tell the students. This means they have more content to later look at and learn from. Oh and of course the students get the handouts as pdf, so its up to them to save the environment by not printing ;)

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