latex beamer is failing me – help!

I know some scatterbrains use LaTeX and the beamer class to produce lecture slides and notes. I have done so for years, using the following syntax at the top to produce the handouts:

\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1}[letterpaper,portrait,border shrink=5mm]

\setbeameroption{show notes}

But just today it’s freaking out on me, producing output with the page size clearly wrong such that pages don’t contain even the full slide, much less the accompanying notes slide. Anybody care to offer help? An example of the bad output is at

Author: andrewperrin

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

11 thoughts on “latex beamer is failing me – help!”

  1. Can you upload your .tex file somewhere so we can figure out if the problem is with your document or your installation? Your syntax works fine on my presentations using my setup–TeXShop/pdfTex (Tex Live 2010).


  2. \documentclass[handout]{beamer}

    \mode{\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1}[letterpaper,portrait,border
    shrink=5mm]\setbeameroption{show notes}}


    \title{Who Writes to the Editor?\\Demographic and Cultural Contours of
    a Mediated Public Sphere}
    \date{Sorbonne V, Paris, September 21, 2012}
    \author{Andrew J. Perrin}



    \frametitle{Arguing in an Anonymous Public}
    \emph{How do citizens find and generate citizenship opportunities to
    approximate their ideals of democratic engagement?}



  3. It looks like you are using a more recent version of beamer than Neal. Did you update your TeX installation recently? It seems that the problem is with the \mode command:

    \mode{\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1}[letterpaper,portrait,border shrink=5mm]\setbeameroption{show notes}}

    What happens if you change this line to

    \mode{\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1}[letterpaper,portrait,border shrink=5mm]\setbeameroption{show notes}}

    i.e. put in \mode at the start there.


  4. Crap, wait a minute. It looks like the HTML ate the relevant angle-bracket formatting on my answer, and presumably on yours as well. (Which btw is why I asked you to use pastebin or a similar service.) Does your original code have the <handout &rt; argument to \mode, i.e.,

    \mode <handout&rt;{ …

    or not? I’m guessing it does?

    Also, your example includes a Chapel Hill theme which isn’t standard. If you remove that does the document compile properly (even if not formatted with the theme)? Because, as with Neal, the example here compiles for me, which suggests that something local to your own setup has changed.


  5. Kieran and Neal, thank you. Using your input, I’ve learned that the problem is in some setup of my compiler. I generally use:

    latex crew-minimal.tex; dvipdf crew-minimal.dvi

    the reason for this is that pdflatex doesn’t (easily) import eps graphics. Interestingly, though: using pdflatex on the minimal code I posted works fine, so the problem lies in the difference between latex->dvipdf and pdflatex. I suspect some issue in the specification of the paper size. I will keep working and post whatever I come up with. Thanks again.


  6. Andy—OK, I see now. Yes, pdflatex doesn’t support EPS because .eps isn’t just a file format, it’s also a programming language. One way to deal with this is to convert your eps files on the fly. If you’re committed to using dvipdf instead of pdflatex, try putting the line


    in your preamble and see if that fixes things.


    1. Actually I’d far prefer to use pdflatex – but I haven’t changed my basic LaTeX practices since about 1997 so was not sure how to go about including graphics!

      Thanks for the pointer to epstopdf which makes pdflatex work which, in turn, solves my problem!


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