How to Convert PowerPoint Pictures for Use in LaTeX

What These Are About

I was once faced with a problem of trying to put the pictures I drew for my presentation into a revision of my paper. After a lot of trial and error, I found a fairly simple way to do it. I also received suggestions from others. There may well be easier or better ways; please contact me if you know more. The basic workflow is to export the PowerPoint slide as a pdf or eps document, to crop it, and then to insert it into LaTeX. Depending on how you work in LaTeX, cropping may not be necessary.

Step 1: Convert PowerPoint To PDF

The way to perform the conversion will vary depending on your OS and version of PowerPoint, but is generally straightforward. On a MAC, there is a PDF option on the Print dialogue box. On Windows, there's usually an option to convert to PDF from the File menu or from the print dialogue box (in some versions, it's called "Acrobat Distiller" printer). This plug-in from Microsoft may help if you don't have a method that works.

Step 2: Crop the PDF

Note that cropping is not necessary, because it can also be accomplished at the next step, but I find it easier to do visually, and hence use this step. Open the pdf in Preview (on a Mac) or Adobe Acrobat (not just the viewer, but the actual Acrobat, on Windows). In Preview, under "Tools" menu, choose "Rectangular Selection" and then select the portion of the slide you want and choose "Crop" from the same menu. In Acrobat, commands for deleting and cropping pages are under the "Document" menu.

Step 3: Insert into LaTeX

Use the \includegraphics command (comes in the graphicx package). If you omit the extension from the filename of the picture that you specify as argument to includegraphics, your document will compile with both pdfLaTeX and LaTeX as long as you have both .pdf and .eps versions of the picture in the relevant directory. If you need to crop your image, use the "trim" and "clip" options of includegraphics (thanks to Johannes Schwarz for this tip).

If You Need .eps

You might need it if you are using \psfig instead of \includegraphics, or you want to compile with LaTeX instead of pdfLaTeX. Here are a few options.