Creating latex-beamer handouts with notes

Update 20091104: Added “1 on 1 with notes landscape”, based on work of Edson Valle. Also added “2 on 1 with notes” and “3 on 1 with notes” layouts.

Update 20091108: Added “2 on 1 with notes landscape”, based on work of Edson Valle.

Update 20091202: Added “1 on 1 with notes”, based on work of Harald Welte.

For all my presentations I have been using LaTeX-Beamer package. One of the things I missed was the possibility of having handouts of my slides with some lines for notes besides the slides. After some searching I found that in the mailing lists of latex-beamer somebody had already come up with a solution.

If you put the fileĀ  handoutWithNotes.sty either in your local texmf directory or in the same directory as your presentation you can include it with the following command


After that, to get 4 sheets on the left side of the page with on the right side of the page some lines for people to write notes you can use the following command

\pgfpagesuselayout{4 on 1 with notes}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm]

The resulting PDF file will contain pages like:

Example of handout with notes

Updated 20091104.I received a note from Edson Valle that he created an addition to the notes files, namely one that allows you to print your sheets 1 per page, but with notes on the side. Made a some small alteration to his original contribution to allow for easier usage.

I have updated the original download-link, so you only have to download the latest handoutWithNotes.sty file and you should be ready to use it.

Again, make sure that you include the style file with:


after which you can now use the “1 on 1 landscape” layout with the following command:

\pgfpagesuselayout{1 on 1 with notes landscape}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm]


The resulting files will look something like:

Showing the 1 on 1 with notes landscape

Showing the 1 on 1 with notes landscape

While I was at it, right away I also created two additional styles “2 on 1 with notes” and “3 on 1 with notes”. The first of these two was already requested once by kc853. Hopefully this new style will be sufficient for his needs. If not, I hope that it will serve as a good starter for modifications.

The “2 on 1 with notes” layout can be used with the command

\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1 with notes}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm]

with the following result:
Image showing "2 on 1 with notes" layout

Finally, the “3 on 1 with notes” pages was created because I think that the “2 on 1 with notes” seemed a bit empty ;) You can use this “3 on 1 with notes” layout with the command

\pgfpagesuselayout{3 on 1 with notes}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm]

with the following result:
Image showing "3 on 1 with notes" layout

Update 20091108 : Based on the above updated styles, Edson Valle provided me with another addition, the “2 on 1 with notes landscape” layout. You can use it with the command

\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1 with notes landscape}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm]

and the output you will get will be something like:
Example of "2 on 1 with notes landscape" layout

Update 20091202 : Based on the above updated styles, Harald Welte provided me with yet another addition, the “1 on 1 with notes” layout. You can use it with the command

\pgfpagesuselayout{1 on 1 with notes}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm]

and the output you will get will be something like:
Example output of "1 on 1 with notes" layout

All of the above layouts can be used by downloading the handoutWithNotes.sty file.

Just drop me a note in case you like this or find it useful or in case you have any questions :)

80 thoughts on “Creating latex-beamer handouts with notes

  1. Thanks for posting this, I’ve found it very useful. One thing that could be mentioned (probably obvious, but it wasn’t to me), is that after \usepackage{handoutWithNotes}, to use the defined layout you need to add something like \pgfpagesuselayout{4 on 1 with notes}[a4paper,border shrink=5mm].



  2. Actually pretty good addition to the post :) Just edited it for future reference. Thanks for pointing it out to me.


  3. thats great. very usefull. another “2 on 1 with notes” would be cool… where do i start?

    regards kc853

  4. Currently I don’t have any time for working on that, but with the source for the “4 on 1 with notes” it should be relatively easy to modify it in such a way that it will be 2 on 1 page.

  5. Thank you very very much! One last thing: Would it be complicated to draw a frame around the slides (useful for white backgrond slides).

    I’m now going to compare the original “4 on 1″ with the new ones to learn how all this works …

    regards kc853

  6. I don’t know about drawing a frame around it. Whenever I have some spare time I will take a look at it, but I can’t guarantee anything ;)

    Guido Diepen

  7. Dear Guido and other contributors

    Thank you very much. These all have been very useful in teaching. I would not find time to do these things on my own! Much appreciated! (One curious detail: When I first downloaded the style file using the wget command on my linux desktop, the result was a bit corrupted for some reason. I then saved the file using the browser, and everything works now!)

    Best wishes,


  8. Great to hear that they are useful :)

    Regarding the wget command not working, I guess there must have been some glitch somewhere. I have just tried it with wget on my linux machine and I am not seeing any differences.

    Let me know if you keep on seeing this behaviour, or if it was just something that happened once.

    Guido Diepen

  9. I have made a new style for the handoutWithNotes.sty which is “1 on 1 with notes portrait”. I’d like to send you a patch but could not find your e-mail address on this page. Please contact me by e-mail and I will send you the patch.


  10. Thank you very for this very useful file !

    For drawing a frame around the slides, I’ve just added the 3 lines (for a 3 on 1 output) :


  11. Hi! I’m having a lot of troubles trying to compilate my handout. I get the following error:

    “Sorry Pandora. (You sneaky devil)
    I refuse to unbox an \hbox in vertical mode or vice versa.
    And I can’t open any boxes in math mode.”

    Can anyone help me??

  12. @Koen: I am not sure what I would need to do for that.

    @Habby: I am not sure what that error is. I have never seen it before, wished I could help you with it.

  13. Excellent work!

    Is there any possibility to add additional horizontal space (e.g. for “3 on 1 with notes”) on the left sheet side in order to be then able to create holes in sheets of paper?

    Thanks in advance.

    Kind regards,

  14. @Malik

    I left that out on purpose, because this way I had some more room on the paper to draw things.

    Should not be too difficult to change this. If you download the .sty file, it is relatively straight forward to place the things a bit more to the right. First look for the 3 on 1 with notes mark, and after that you have to play with the x coordinates a bit.

    Kind regards,
    Guido Diepen

  15. Quick question: how can I create notes on each page that show up in the “Notes” section?


  16. For example, one page of my slide looks like this:

    \frametitle{Competing arguments}
    \item The “fetal origins” hypothesis and its variants predict that
    prenatal famine exposure reduces fecundity;
    \item The “life history regulation” argument, on the other hand,
    predicts that prenatal famine exposure \textit{may} enhance fecundity.

    And I want to add a note on this page that shows up on the right, as in your “2 on 1 with notes landscape” example, how do I do it?

    I tried:

    \frametitle{Competing arguments}
    \item The “fetal origins” hypothesis and its variants predict that
    prenatal famine exposure reduces fecundity;
    \item The “life history regulation” argument, on the other hand,
    predicts that prenatal famine exposure \textit{may} enhance fecundity.
    \note{I want to put a note here.}

    But the note either does not show up at all, or does not show up the same way in your example.

    By the way, I did put your .sty file in my local LaTeX folder and it compiles without complaining. So I don’t think that is the problem.


  17. aaaaaaah, now I understand.

    Unfortunately, the answer is that you can’t….

    The reason for this is that the notes that I am printing are NOT the notes that are taken from your Latex file. In my style file, I print a ‘static’ notes page containing only the text notes and some horizontal lines. The purpose of my style is to print out a handout version that can be distributed to your audience, and it allows the audience to write their own notes next to your slides.

    Hope this clarifies it for you.

    Guido Diepen

  18. First thanks for the nice package. It would be very nice to see this in TeX Live or at least on CTAN ( You can just upload the package onto CTAN (link is on the CTAN home page), and if it fulfils the TeX Live license requirements (IMHO it does, since it is LPPL without further restriction), it will automagically show up in TeX Live. A nice bonus would be a documentation .tex and .pdf, but I think it is not recommended for publication on CTAN.

    Regards, Chris

  19. Awesome package, just what I needed. I was able to enhance the 3 on 1 with notes layout to include a (physical) page header and footer. See here.

    Once you realize that everything on the physical page is a logical page, it’s easy to put whatever you want wherever you want. The stuff that’s the same on every page you can copy as with the notes boxes. The stuff that changes on every page you can actually set the text with the “border code” option.

  20. Hi,
    I’ve tryed this package and I think it’s very good.

    PS: Using the 4 on 1 with notes setting with 17 slides, the last page has only one slide, but it has four notes…

  21. Hi Iade,

    Good to hear that you like it :)

    Regarding the 3 additional notes fields, I think it will be relatively difficult to change this. It will require me to check the number of slides that are printed on the left hand side of the page everywhere. When I am going to spend some time on the package again, I will see if I can do this (and some other requests I have found over time :) )

  22. Nice idea!

    If you would store the text “Notes” in a (for example) \newcommand*{\NotesText}{Notes}, the users could easily change the text with \renewcommand*… without editing the whole style ;)

  23. @Dieter: Really nice idea. Around half of June, I will have some time to work on this project again, will try to incorporate the ideas/suggestions I have gotten so far.

    Guido Diepen

  24. Just to make it clear: I actually wanted to say, that *your* idea (making this style) is a nice one. My comment is just a latexnical hint :)

  25. Excellent job! This is exactly what I’m looking for.

    To remove overlays from a beamer presentation, I add a handout option


  26. Guido, can you give me some pointers if I want to implement what Shige wants (see the comment above), i.e. I want to make the notes of the slides appear below the slide, instead of the horizontal lines. I like that format for the handout, where I can put what is the description of the slide (which can be a picture) right underneath it. Most of the time, the horizontal lines remain blank, and if the audience got back to the picture on the slide, they would not remember what was discussed at that particular slide. That is why I like to print my notes right under the slide. The audience can still write in the margin if they want.

  27. Hi Ery,

    From what I understood from Shige, the requested behavior was to be able to add a \note{…} in the slide that would be printed on the notes page. Is this also what you want?

    Please note that with this package it is not possible to have any dynamic text on the lines (or anywhere else). I think in theory this could be possible, though I don’t know exactly how.

    The notes package is only printing the handouts and a copy of a notes page next to it.

    Kind regards,

    Guido Diepen

  28. That’s what I want, i.e. to show the notes instead of the horizontal lines. Although I am thinking of different layout than what Shige wants. Any pointers on how to do this?

  29. With regards to layout, everything is relatively easy: Just a matter of placing the virtual pages on the actual page.

    However, drawing something else than lines there, I do not know exactly how that could be done. The only thing I can come up with is to redefine the \frame or \note command to always print a second page without any background, etc, but only the notes. Then instead of printing the lines-page as I do currently, you could print this second page.

  30. Hello,

    i am a newbie with latex, beamer und lyx. Your .sty-file is very usefull.

    Does it work, to put Heading on the top with text and on the bottom an line to seperate the notes from perhaps Date and sideumber.

    I tried some commands in lyx put nothing worked for me.
    Do you have an idea?

  31. Howdy,

    I am having trouble compiling my slides with the notes on the side. I have placed the .sty files for pgfpages and handoutWithNotes in the proper places but I still receive an error that says “Undefined control sequence. \pgfutil@tempdima …with notes}[letterpaper,border shrink=5mm]“. The error is the same when I use a4 paper in stead of letter paper. Any idea why I have this error?


  32. Pingback: Beamer handouts with notes at rlazo's blog

  33. Is there a way to add page numbers to each of the pages in the handout? I.e., I want to refer to the class/audience to “page 3″ of the handouts?

  34. Pingback: Beamer – some useful tips »

  35. Awesome tool.


    > Is it possible to have notes printed on those lines? You know, the notes that you make with \\note{}. Thanks.

    Is this implemented yet?

    Would be a very useful feature


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