The Alignment tab of a LibreOffice paragraph style has four ways of positioning text on a line: Left, Right, Centered, and Justified. In practice, however, Right is used mostly for highly-formatted documents such as brochures, while Centered is mostly reserved for titles and sub-titles. For body text, the choices are usually Justified, in which the left and right sides of the text column align with both the left and right margins, and Left or “ragged right,” in which only the left side of the text column aligns consistently with a margin. Asked to choose between Justified and Left alignments, most users will choose Justified — but the choice is not as simple as you might think.
In LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, tables of contents (ToCs) are grouped with index and bibliographical entries under Insert -> Indexes and Tables. All of them are created with a similar procedure, but the details vary for each case. Tables of contents in particular allow much more options for formatting than are available in MS Office.
The basic steps are easy:
1. Mark in the text the entries for the table of contents.
2. Position the table of contents where you want it.
Whether you’re in business or school, outlines can be an essential part of your writing. You may plan a longer piece of writing in one, or use one as an executive summary. Either way, you should find the Outline Numbering dialog in Writer’s Tool menu useful. However, it requires some setup before it is ready to use.
Several versions ago, I would have suggested the second option of creating the list styles that you need, then attaching them to paragraph styles, using the Number tab. Now, you can still take this option, but, if you do, you must start by creating your own styles for each outlining level first.
The reason for this extra work is that, in recent versions of LibreOffice the ability to attach list styles to Headings 1-10 paragraph styles has been disabled. Presumably, this change was made to avoid confusion with the Outline Numbering dialog. However, the change means that this second option now requires additional work to obtain the same results that you can get much more easily with Outline Numbering. This second option is much better kept for lists within the text of a document, which is what it is designed for.
OK, LibreOffice is free for the download, and you can install it on as many different machines as you choose. But a free price and a free license aren’t much good if the software doesn’t have the features you want.
Happily, that’s usually not a concern with LibreOffice or its predecessor, OpenOffice. Although many people assume that a free application must be inferior to one that they pay for, a comparison of LibreOffice with Microsoft Office (MSO) proves that the opposite is often true. Sometimes, MSO has features that LibreOffice lacks, but, just as often, it’s LibreOffice that has more tools than MSO.
However, unless you’re concerned about a must-have feature, there’s usually no need for a point by point comparison. Focusing on performance and high-level interface choices alone, I can think of at least seven reasons to choose LibreOffice over MS Office:
List styles are an open secret in LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org. If you press the F11 key to open the Styles and Formatting palette, they’re in plain site at the end of the buttons for the five types of style – yet hardly anyone goes beyond their basic use or even uses them at all. However, if you take a closer look, there are all sorts of ingenious uses for list styles.
Like any type of style, lists styles save time. Change the style, and in seconds you change the formatting of every instance that you use the style throughout the document, instead of hunting down each instance and changing it manually.
Many users of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org are familiar with paragraph and character styles. By contrast, page styles are less familiar. However, if you take the time to set up page styles once in a template, the effort can automate your formatting for years in dozens of documents.
You’ll find page styles in the same place as the rest of the styles, in the Styles and Formatting floating window available by selecting Format -> Styles and Formatting in the menu or pressing the F11 key. It’s the fourth button from the left in the floating window, between Frame and List styles, the other two less commonly used types of styles.
We learned how to create fancy return address labels with LibreOffice in our last installment. Today we’re going to tackle mail merge. Mail merge is a powerful, time-saving word processor feature for addressing mass-mailings and form letters. It’s easy but a little weird in LibreOffice, so follow along and learn how to be a mail merge guru.
Address Labels and Form Letters.
If you’re not familiar with LibreOffice, it is a superior offshoot of the popular free office suite OpenOffice. LibreOffice is cross-platform and runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows, and provides a word processor, database, spreadsheet, drawing program, and slideshow creator. With LibreOffice you can create address labels and form letters. It all starts with your database of addresses, and then following the not-very-intuitive steps to merge your addresses into your document. This is not well-documented in the LibreOffice help documents, and if you try to figure it out yourself you’ll get lost. So follow along and learn the right way– it’s an easy few steps when you know how. If you don’t have an address database, you don’t have to be a guru to create one because we’ll show how to do that too.
“A whole article on page numbering?” someone asked when I said I was doing this article. “Isn’t that kind of basic?”
The answer is that, at the simplest level, it is. However, add different numbering styles, restarting numbering, or automating numbering, and the apparently basic topic quickly becomes more complicated. Set up a master document, and still another dimension is added. What at first seems like a straightforward task has far more options than many users imagine.
Moreover, in LibreOffice (or OpenOffice.org, for that matter), generally, you’ll want to put page numbers in headers or footers, so they are separate from the rest of the text on a page and easy to read. Setting up a header or foot is not difficult, but it does add another step or two to the apparently basic task of adding a page number.