big cookbook

The ideal presentation is gesamtkunstwerk. While the big default style and behavior is nice and simple, there are lots of things you might want as you go along in your presentation-crafting. Having done quite a few presentations using this system, I’ve done a lot of per-presentation tweaks and have some general-usage protips to share.

Recipes are presented as HTML, that would go in index.html, and CSS, that can go in big.css.


  • Presentations are webpages, and should be created and styled in the same way, using HTML & CSS
  • Embrace resolution and aspect ratio diversity and make presentations work on a variety of screens and in lots of environments.

Avoiding text breaks

By default, big will wrap text the same way your browser does. Sometimes this isn’t what you desire, like if you want a title to be on the same line.

  beyond the <code>for</code> loop
  <br />
  <small class='nobreak'>@tmcw / Tom MacWright / Mapbox</small>
.nobreak {

The nobreak class uses the CSS white-space property to prevent linebreaks from appearing anywhere within the contained text.

Blinking text

Blinking text, like that previously supported by the <blink> tag can be an effective tool if used judiciously: it draws attention to slides in a simple and straightforward way. By using CSS’s keyframes construct, you can make an entire slide or part of a slide tastefully pulse.

<div class='blink'>
@-webkit-keyframes blinker {
  from { opacity: 1.0; }
  to { opacity: 0.5; }
.blink {
  -webkit-animation-name: blinker;
  -webkit-animation-iteration-count: infinite;
  -webkit-animation-timing-function: cubic-bezier(1.0,0,0,1.0);
  -webkit-animation-duration: 800ms;


There are many ways to do code highlighting in presentations. My personal philosophy is that you should never show more than 8 lines of code on a slide, and instead of using traditional semantic highlighting, you should manually add emphasis to focus points in the code. See an example of this in beyond for.

    problem one: make some animals rock
    <pre>var animals = <em>['cats', 'dogs']</em>;</pre>
pre {

pre em {

Fancy Fonts

You can set up fancy fonts with big the same way you would with a website: by using a font CDN like Google Fonts or downloading them from places like FontSquirrel. Downloading webfonts to the same directory as your presentation means that they’ll work even if you’re offine when you give the talk.

This time the HTML example goes in the <head> element rather than in a slide.

<link href='' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'>
body {
    font-family: 'Roboto', sans-serif;


By default, big has a plain white background. If you make an image the first thing in a slide, then it’ll make that image the background image of the slide - it’s just a convenient little shortcut.

Note that making the image the first thing in a slide means that the element must go directly after the <div> tag with no space. Whitespace in HTML is an element, too - a TextNode.

Anyway - by default, big has the rule background-size:100%; set on slides. This means that the background will be positioned to fit within the slide’s dimensions. This isn’t always what you want - for instance, if your background is like an “image of the stars” and you don’t terribly mind part of it getting cut off but do definitely want it to cover the whole slide, you can change that rule in big.css to

body {
    background-size: cover;

And sometimes you want more control than that: let’s say that you have one slide that you want a patterned background under, but a bunch that you don’t. For this you can use the bodyclass feature, in conjunction with a class that triggers repeating background images scaled at their native size:

body.background-repeat {
    background-size: auto;
    background-repeat: repeat;
<div data-bodyclass='background-repeat'><img src='background-pattern.png' />