Just Say No to Beamer Navigaton Buttons

Presentation slides should be minimalist—the more the viewer has to scan, the more time he will take looking at the slide, and the less time he will spend actually listening to you. Minimalism is learned, and it is something I still struggle with. I’m getting better, but I can still improve.

Today, though, I’m taking a simple step to simplify the rest of my slides forever: I’m removing Beamer’s unnecessary navigation buttons.

What navigation buttons? These navigation buttons:

nav

You have almost certainly seen these before. In fact, there is a chance you put them into your Beamer slides without actually knowing what they do. (I spent a good 18 months using Beamer without ever experimenting with them.) The buttons allow you to navigate between slides, subsections, and sections of your presentation.

For my money, these buttons aren’t particularly useful. Most people use clickers for presentations, which rules out the buttons entirely. Even if you are working from the laptop, you can navigate slides using left and right keys. Meanwhile, jumping subsections or sections is usually too disorienting to work efficiently.

Indeed, I have seen someone click navigation buttons during a presentation exactly once—and that was only because the person evidently did not know you could (more efficiently) use the right key instead.

So, in sum, I hate navigation buttons. If you also never use them, then they have no reason to be in the slides. They are just taking up room for no reason.

Fortunately, the fix is simple. Immediately below your \begin{document} command, simply add the following line of code:

\setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}

Now your slides will look like this:

nonav

Much cleaner! Thus, unless I rediscover the navigation buttons as being extremely handy, I’m taking them out of all my future presentations.

And if “Arms Treaties and the Credibility of Preventive War” sounds like too scintillating to ignore, you can see the full presentation here and read the paper here.

2 responses to “Just Say No to Beamer Navigaton Buttons

  1. Yes! What should go next – the outlines! No one needs your structure up there for your whole talk. Visual clutter = evil.

    • My favorite part about outlines is when someone has one, shows it for one second, and then immediately clicks through. What’s the point?!

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