I'm looking for an application that will let me produce textbased source files which can eventually be used to produce PDF files and preferrably also slide presentations or web presentations.


  • Run on Linux (Fedora)
  • Source files should be text only, ideally using a syntax that can be used for other types of documents (manuals, technical specifications, etc.)
  • Everything should be done locally (no cloud solutions)
  • Image inclusion with reasonable options for scaling
  • Define slides individually and include varying selections them in slightly different versions of presentations through a master file defining which ones to include and in which order
  • Define variables to perform string substitution or use conditional elements (e.g. only include a given bullet point if a given variable is set). The same element should be available for inclusion several times and in several documents.
  • Possibility to have full control of the layout of each page/slide
  • Possibility to include background images

I have tried DocBook but have not been able to figure out any way of doing the last two requirements in my list and therefore look for something else. I also checked out ReStructured Text, but the variable/inclusion of elements does not seem to be a part of that solution.

1 Answer 1


I think you can use LaTeX for this purpose. The package is pretty heavy, but it's heavy because there are vast number of things you can do with LaTeX.


  • LaTeX fulfills most of the listed requirements. (see Cons too)
  • You can use the package to create beautiful technical documents as well.


  • It can sometimes be a pain, compared to graphical tools. (But since you explicitly ask for a text based tool, I think you should be ok)
  • Animations are not supported.
  • Your output is a PDF.

There is a whole Wikibook on the subject: Read LaTeX/Presentations.

  • 5
    Might also be worth reading up on the beamer class for it. I've never used it before, but Its usually what people mention when they talk about making presentations with latex Aug 1, 2014 at 10:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.