Getting Started Guide

Chapter 4
Getting Started with Writer

Word Processing with LibreOffice


This document is Copyright © 2010 by its contributors as listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (, version 3.0 or later.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


Ron Faile Jr.


Please direct any comments or suggestions about this document to:


This chapter is based on Chapter 4 of Getting Started with Writer for The contributors to that chapter are:

Jean Hollis Weber Michele Zarri
Agnes Belzunce Daniel Carrera
Spencer E. Harpe Peter Hillier-Brook
Peter Kupfer Gary Schnabl
Janet Swisher Linda Worthington

Publication date and software version

Published 30 December 2010. Based on LibreOffice 3.3.

Note for Mac users

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on a Mac from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this chapter. For a more detailed list, see the application Help.


Mac equivalent


Tools Options menu selection

LibreOffice Preferences

Access setup options



Opens a context menu

Ctrl (Control)

z (Command)

Used with other keys



Opens the Navigator



Opens the Styles & Formatting window


Copyright 2

Note for Mac users 2

What is Writer? 5

The Writer interface 5

Status bar 5

Changing document views 7

Moving quickly through a document 8

Working with documents 9

Saving as a Microsoft Word file 9

Working with text 10

Selecting items that are not consecutive 10

Selecting a vertical block of text 11

Cutting, copying, and pasting text 11

Finding and replacing text and formatting 12

Inserting special characters 13

Inserting dashes and non-breaking spaces and hyphens 13

Setting tab stops and indents 14

Changing the default tab stop interval 14

Checking spelling and grammar 15

Using built-in language tools 15

Using AutoCorrect 16

Using word completion 16

Using AutoText 17

Formatting text 18

Using styles is recommended 18

Formatting paragraphs 18

Formatting characters 18

Autoformatting 19

Creating numbered or bulleted lists 19

Hyphenating words 20

Formatting pages 21

Which layout method to choose? 21

Creating headers and footers 23

Numbering pages 23

Changing page margins 25

Adding comments to a document 25

Creating a table of contents 26

Creating indexes and bibliographies 27

Working with graphics 27

Printing 27

Using mail merge 27

Tracking changes to a document 28

Using fields 28

Linking to another part of a document 28

Using hyperlinks 29

Using cross-references 29

Using bookmarks 30

Using master documents 31

Creating fill-in forms 31

What is Writer?

Writer is the word processor component of LibreOffice. In addition to the usual features of a word processor (spelling check, thesaurus, hyphenation, autocorrect, find and replace, automatic generation of tables of contents and indexes, mail merge and others), Writer provides these important features:

These features are covered in detail in the Writer Guide.

The Writer interface

The main Writer workspace is shown in Figure 1. The menus and toolbars are described in Chapter 1, Introducing LibreOffice.

Some other features of the Writer interface are covered in this chapter.


Status bar

The Writer status bar provides information about the document and convenient ways to quickly change some document features.


Page number

Shows the current page number, the sequence number of the current page (if different), and the total number of pages in the document. For example, if you restarted page numbering at 1 on the third page, its page number is 1 and its sequence number is 3.

If any bookmarks have been defined in the document, a right-click on this field pops up a list of bookmarks; click on the required one.

To jump to a specific page in the document, double-click on this field. The Navigator opens. Click in the Page Number field and type the sequence number of the required page. After a brief delay, the display jumps to the selected page.

Page style

Shows the style of the current page. To change the page style, right-click on this field. A list of page styles pops up; choose a different style by clicking on it.

To edit the current page style, double-click on this field. The Page Style dialog opens.


Shows the language for the selected text.

Click to open a menu where you can choose another language for the selected text or for the paragraph where the cursor is located. You can also choose None (Do not check spelling) to exclude the text from a spelling check or choose More... to open the Character dialog.

Insert mode

Click to toggle between Insert and Overwrite modes when typing.

Selection mode

Click to toggle between STD (Standard), EXT (Extend), ADD (Add) and BLK (Block) selection. EXT is an alternative to Shift+click when selecting text. See “Working with text” on page 10 for more information about ADD and BLK.

Unsaved changes

An icon with an exclmation point appears here if changes to the document have not been saved.


Digital signature

If the document has been digitally signed, an icon shows here. You can double-click the icon to view the certificate.

Section or object information

When the cursor is on a section, heading, or list item, or when an object (such as a picture or table) is selected, information about that item appears in this field. Double-clicking in this area opens a relevant dialog. For details, consult the Help or the Writer Guide.

View layout

Click an icon to change between single page, side-by-side, and book layout views. You can edit the document in any view.



To change the view magnification, drag the Zoom slider, or click on the + and – signs, or right-click on the zoom level percent to pop up a list of magnification values from which to choose. Zoom interacts with the selected view layout to determine how many pages are visible in the document window.

Changing document views

Writer has several ways to view a document: Print Layout, Web Layout, and Full Screen. To access these and other choices, go to the View menu and click on the required view. (When in Full Screen view, press the Esc key to return to either Print or Web Layout view.)

When in Print Layout, you can use both the Zoom slider and the View Layout icons on the status bar. In Web Layout, you can use the Zoom slider.

You can also choose View Zoom from the menu bar to display the Zoom & View Layout dialog, where you can set the same options as on the Status bar. In Web Layout view, most of the choices are not available.


Moving quickly through a document

In addition to the navigation features of the Status bar (described above), you can use the main Navigator window and the Navigation toolbar as described in Chapter 1, Introducing LibreOffice.

In Writer, you can also display the Navigation toolbar by clicking on the small Navigation icon near the lower right-hand corner of the window below the vertical scroll bar, as shown in Figure 6.


The Navigation toolbar (Figure 7) shows icons for all the object types shown in the Navigator, plus some extras (for example, the results of a Find command).


Click an icon to select that object type. Now all the Previous and Next icons (in the Navigator itself, in the Navigation Toolbar, and on the scroll bar) will jump to the next object of the selected type. This is particularly helpful for finding items like index entries, which can be difficult to see in the text. The names of the icons (shown in the tooltips) change to match the selected category; for example, Next Graphic, Next Bookmark, or Continue search forward.

For more uses of the Navigator in Writer, see the Writer Guide.

Working with documents

Chapter 1, Introducing LibreOffice, includes instructions on starting new documents, opening existing documents, and saving documents. Chapter 3, Using Styles and Templates, covers how to create a document from a template.

Saving as a Microsoft Word file

If you need to exchange files with users of Microsoft Word, they may not know how to open and save .odt files. Microsoft Word 2007 with Service Pack 2 (SP2) can do this. Users of Word 2003, XP, and 2000 can buy a plug-in from Oracle Corp or search on the Web for the free OpenDocument Format (ODF) plugin from Sun Microsystems.

Some users of Microsoft Word may be unwilling or unable to receive *.odt files. (Their employer may not allow them to install the plug-in.) In this case, you can save a document as a Microsoft Word file.

  1. Important—First save your document in the file format used by LibreOffice Writer (.odt). If you do not, any changes you made since the last time you saved will appear only in the Microsoft Word version of the document.

  2. Then choose File Save As. On the Save As dialog, in the File type (or Save as type) drop-down menu, select the type of Word format you need. Click Save.


From this point on, all changes you make to the document will occur only in the new document. You have changed the name and file type of your document. If you want to go back to working with the .odt version of your document, you must open it again.


To have LibreOffice save documents by default in the Microsoft Word file format, go to Tools Options Load/Save. See “Choosing options for loading and saving documents” in Chapter 2, Setting up LibreOffice.

Working with text

Working with text (selecting, copying, pasting, moving) in Writer is similar to working with text in any other program. LibreOffice also has some convenient ways to select items that are not next to each other, select a vertical block of text, and paste unformatted text.

Selecting items that are not consecutive

To select nonconsecutive items (as shown in Figure 9) using the mouse:

  1. Select the first piece of text.

  2. Hold down the Control key and use the mouse to select the next piece of text.

  3. Repeat as often as needed.

Now you can work with the selected text (copy it, delete it, change the style, or whatever).


Macintosh users: substitute the Command key when instructions in this chapter say to use the Control key.


To select nonconsecutive items using the keyboard:

  1. Select the first piece of text. (For more information about keyboard selection of text, see the topic “Navigating and selecting with the keyboard” in the Help.)

  2. Press Shift+F8. This puts Writer in “Add” mode. The word ADD appears on the status bar.

  3. Use the arrow keys to move to the start of the next piece of text to be selected. Hold down the Shift key and select the next piece of text.

  4. Repeat as often as needed.

Now you can work with the selected text.

Press Esc to exit from this mode.

Selecting a vertical block of text

You can select a vertical block or “column” of text that is separated by spaces or tabs (as you might see in text pasted from e-mails, program listings, or other sources), using LibreOffice’s block selection mode. To change to block selection mode, use Edit Selection Mode Block Area, or click several times in the status bar on STD until it changes to BLK.

Now highlight the selection, using mouse or keyboard, as shown below.


Cutting, copying, and pasting text

Cutting and copying text in Writer is similar to cutting and copying text in other applications. You can use the mouse or the keyboard for these operations. You can copy or move text within a document, or between documents, by dragging or by using menu selections, icons, or keyboard shortcuts. You can also copy text from other sources such as Web pages and paste it into a Writer document.

To move (cut and paste) selected text using the mouse, drag it to the new location and release it. To copy selected text, hold down the Control key while dragging. The text retains the formatting it had before dragging.

When you paste text, the result depends on the source of the text and how you paste it. If you click on the Paste icon, any formatting the text has (such as bold or italics) is retained. Text pasted from Web sites and other sources may also be placed into frames or tables. If you do not like the results, click the Undo icon or press Control+Z.

To make the pasted text take on the formatting of the surrounding text where it is being pasted, choose either:

Then select Unformatted text from the resulting menu.

The range of choices on the Paste Special menu varies depending on the origin and formatting of the text (or other object) to be pasted. See Figure 11 for an example with text on the clipboard.


Finding and replacing text and formatting

Writer has two ways to find text within a document: the Find toolbar for fast searching and the Find & Replace dialog. In the dialog, you can:

If the Find toolbar is not visible, you can display it using View Toolbars Find.

To display the Find & Replace dialog, use the keyboard shortcut Control+F or choose Edit Find & Replace from the menu bar.


  1. Type the text you want to find in the Search for box.

  2. To replace the text with different text, type the new text in the Replace with box.

  3. You can select various options such as matching the case, matching whole words only, or doing a search for similar words.

  4. When you have set up your search, click Find. To replace text, click Replace instead.

For more information on using Find & Replace, see the Writer Guide.


If you click Find All, LibreOffice selects all instances of the search text in the document. Similarly, if you click Replace All, LibreOffice replaces all matches.


Use Replace All with caution; otherwise, you may end up with some hilarious (and highly embarrassing) mistakes. A mistake with Replace All might require a manual, word-by-word, search to fix.

Inserting special characters

A special character is one not found on a standard English keyboard. For example, © ¾ æ ç ñ ö ø ¢ are all special characters. To insert a special character:

  1. Place the cursor where you want the character to appear.

  2. Choose Insert Special Character to open the Special Characters dialog.

  3. Select the characters (from any font or mixture of fonts) you wish to insert, in order, then click OK. The selected characters are shown in the lower left of the dialog. As you select a character, it is shown on the lower right, along with its numerical code.


Different fonts include different special characters. If you do not find a particular special character, try changing the Font selection.


Inserting dashes and non-breaking spaces and hyphens

To prevent two words from being separated at the end of a line, press Control+Shift+spacebar after the first word to insert a non-breaking space.

In cases where you do not want the hyphen to appear at the end of a line, for example in a number such as 123 4567, you can press Control+Shift+minus sign to insert a non-breaking hyphen.

To enter en and em dashes, you can use the Replace dashes option on the Options tab under Tools AutoCorrect Options. This option replaces two hyphens, under certain conditions, with the corresponding dash.

is an en-dash; that is, a dash the width of the letter “n” in the font you are using. Type at least one character, a space, one or two hyphens, another space, and at least one more letter, then a space. The one or two hyphens will be replaced by an en-dash.

is an em-dash; that is, a dash the width of the letter “m” in the font you are using. Type at least one character, two hyphens, and at least one more character, then a space. The two hyphens will be replaced by an em-dash.

See the Help for more details. For other methods of inserting dashes, see the Writer Guide.

Setting tab stops and indents

The horizontal ruler shows both the default tab stops and any tab stops that you have defined. Tab settings affect indentation of full paragraphs (using the Increase Indent and Decrease Indent icons on the Formatting toolbar) as well as indentation of parts of a paragraph (by pressing the Tab key on the keyboard).

Using the default tab spacing can cause formatting problems if you share documents with other people. If you use the default tab spacing and then send the document to someone else who has chosen a different default tab spacing, tabbed material will change to use the other person’s settings. This may cause major formatting problems. Instead of using the defaults, define your own tab settings, as described in this section.

To define indents and tab settings for one or more selected paragraphs, double-click on a part of the ruler that is not between the left and right indent icons to open the Indents & Spacing page of the Paragraph dialog. Double-click anywhere between the left and right indent icons on the ruler to open the Tabs page of the Paragraph dialog.

A better strategy is to define tabs for the paragraph style. See Chapters 6 and 7 in the Writer Guide for more information.


Using tabs to space out material on a page is not recommended. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, a table is usually a better choice.

Changing the default tab stop interval


Any changes to the default tab setting will affect the existing default tab stops in any document you open afterward, as well as tab stops you insert after making the change.

To set the measurement unit and the spacing of default tab stop intervals, go to Tools Options LibreOffice Writer General.


You can also set or change the measurement unit for rulers in the current document by right-clicking on the ruler to open a list of units. Click on one of them to change the ruler to that unit. The selected setting applies only to that ruler.


Checking spelling and grammar

Writer provides a spelling checker, which can be used in two ways.

AutoSpellcheck checks each word as it is typed and displays a wavy red line under any misspelled words. When the word is corrected, the line disappears.

To perform a separate spelling check on the document (or a text selection) click the Spelling and Grammar button. This checks the document or selection and opens the Spelling and Grammar dialog if any misspelled words are found.

Here are some more features of the spelling checker:

Writer does not include a grammar checker, but you can install an extension such as Language Tool and access it from Tools Spelling and Grammar. (See Chapter 14 for more about installing extensions.)

Using built-in language tools

Writer provides some tools that make your work easier if you mix multiple languages within the same document or if you write documents in various languages.

The main advantage of changing the language is that you can then use the correct dictionaries to check spelling and apply the localized versions of Autocorrect replacement tables, thesaurus, and hyphenation rules.

You can also set the language for a paragraph or a group of characters as None. This option is especially useful when you insert text such as web addresses or programming language snippets that you do not want to check for spelling.

Specifying the language in character and paragraph styles is the preferred method, because styles allow a greater level of control and make changing the language much faster. On the Font tab of the Paragraph Styles dialog, you can specify that certain paragraphs be checked in a language that is different from the language of the rest of the document. See Chapter 7, Working with Styles, in the Writer Guide for information on how to manage the language settings of a style.

You can set the language for the whole document, for individual paragraphs, or even for individual words and characters, all from Tools Language on the menu bar.

Another way to change the language of a whole document is to use Tools Options Language Settings Languages. In the Default languages for documents section of the Options dialog, you can choose a different language for all the text.

The spelling checker works only for those languages in the list that have the symbol next to them. If you do not see the symbol next to your preferred language, you can install the additional dictionary using Tools Languages More dictionaries online.

The language used for checking spelling is also shown in the status bar, next to the page style in use.

Using AutoCorrect

Writer’s AutoCorrect function has a long list of common misspellings and typing errors, which it corrects automatically. For example, “hte” will be changed to “the”.

Choose Tools AutoCorrect Options to open the AutoCorrect dialog. There you can define which strings of text are corrected and how. In most cases, the defaults are fine.

AutoCorrect is turned on when Writer is installed. To turn it off, uncheck Format AutoCorrect While Typing.

To stop Writer replacing a specific spelling, go to the Replace tab, highlight the word pair, and click Delete.

To add a new spelling to the list, type it into the Replace and With boxes on the Replace tab, and click New.

See the different tabs of the dialog for the wide variety of other options available to fine-tune AutoCorrect.


AutoCorrect can be used as a quick way to insert special characters. For example, (c) will be autocorrected to ©. You can add your own special characters.

Using word completion

If Word Completion is enabled, Writer tries to guess which word you are typing and offers to complete the word for you. To accept the suggestion, press Enter. Otherwise continue typing.

To turn off Word Completion, select Tools AutoCorrect Options Word Completion and deselect Enable word completion.

You can customize word completion from the Word Completion page of the AutoCorrect dialog:


Automatic word completion only occurs after you type a word for the second time in a document.

Using AutoText

Use AutoText to store text, tables, graphics and other items for reuse and assign them to a key combination for easy retrieval. For example, rather than typing “Senior Management” every time you use that phrase, you can set up an AutoText entry to insert those words when you type “sm” and press F3.

Creating AutoText

To store some text as AutoText:

  1. Type the text into your document.

  2. Select the text.

  3. Choose Edit AutoText (or press Control+F3).

  4. In the AutoText dialog box, type a name for the AutoText in the Name box. Writer will suggest a one-letter shortcut, which you can change.

  5. In the large box to the left, choose the category for the AutoText entry, for example My AutoText.

  6. Click the AutoText button on the right and select New (text only) from the menu.

  7. Click Close to return to your document.


If the only option under the AutoText button is Import, either you have not entered a name for your AutoText or there is no text selected in the document.

AutoText is especially powerful when assigned to fields. See Chapter 14, Working with Fields, in the Writer Guide for more information.

Inserting AutoText

To insert AutoText, type the shortcut and press F3.

Formatting text

Using styles is recommended

Styles are central to using Writer. Styles enable you to easily format your document consistently, and to change the format with minimal effort. A style is a named set of formatting options. Writer defines several types of styles, for different types of elements: characters, paragraphs, pages, frames, and lists. See Chapter 3, Using Styles and Templates, in this book and Chapters 6 and 7 in the Writer Guide.

Formatting paragraphs

You can apply many formats to paragraphs using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar. Figure 16 shows the Formatting toolbar as a floating toolbar, customized to show only the icons for paragraph formatting. The appearance of the icons may vary with your operating system and the selection of icon size and style in Tools Options LibreOffice View.


Formatting characters

You can apply many formats to characters using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar. Figure 17 shows the Formatting toolbar, customized to include only the icon for character formatting.

The appearance of the icons may vary with your operating system and the selection of icon size and style in Tools Options LibreOffice View.



To remove manual formatting, select the text and choose Format Default Formatting, or right-click and choose Default Formatting.


You can set Writer to automatically format parts of a document according to the choices made on the Options page of the AutoCorrect dialog (Tools AutoCorrect Options).


If you notice unexpected formatting changes occurring in your document, this is the first place to look for the cause.

Some common unwanted or unexpected formatting changes include:

To turn autoformatting on or off, choose Format AutoCorrect and select or deselect the items on the list.

Creating numbered or bulleted lists

There are several ways to create numbered or bulleted lists:


It is a matter of personal preference whether you type your information first, then apply Numbering/Bullets, or apply them as you type.

Using the Bullets and Numbering toolbar

You can create nested lists (where one or more list items has a sub-list under it, as in an outline) by using the buttons on the Bullets and Numbering toolbar (Figure 18). You can move items up or down the list, or create sub-points, and even change the style of bullets. Use View Toolbars Bullets and Numbering to see the toolbar.

The appearance of the icons may vary with your operating system and the selection of icon size and style in Tools Options LibreOffice View.


Hyphenating words

You have several choices regarding hyphenation: let Writer do it automatically (using its hyphenation dictionaries), insert conditional hyphens manually where necessary, or don’t hyphenate at all.

Automatic hyphenation

Figure 19: Modifying a style

To turn automatic hyphenation of words on or off:

  1. Press F11 (z+T on Mac) to open the Styles and Formatting window.

  2. On the Paragraph Styles page (Figure 19), right-click on Default and select Modify.

  3. On the Paragraph Style dialog (Figure 20), go to the Text Flow page.

  4. Under Hyphenation, select or deselect the Automatically option. Click OK to save.



Turning on hyphenation for the Default paragraph style affects all other paragraph styles that are based on Default. You can individually change other styles so that hyphenation is not active; for example, you might not want headings to be hyphenated. Any styles that are not based on Default are not affected. See Chapter 3, Styles and Templates, for more about styles based on other styles)

You can also set hyphenation choices through Tools Options Language Settings Writing Aids. In Options, near the bottom of the dialog, scroll down to find the hyphenation settings.


To change the minimum number of characters for hyphenation, the minimum number of characters before a line break, or the minimum number of characters after a line break, select the item, and then click the Edit button in the Options section.

Hyphenation options set on the Writing Aids dialog are effective only if hyphenation is turned on through paragraph styles.

Manual hyphenation

To manually hyphenate words, do not use a normal hyphen, which will remain visible even if the word is no longer at the end of a line when you add or delete text or change margins or font size. Instead, use a conditional hyphen, which is visible only when required.

To insert a conditional hyphen inside a word, click where you want the hyphen to appear and press Control+hyphen. The word will be hyphenated at this position when it is at the end of the line, even if automatic hyphenation for this paragraph is switched off.

Formatting pages

Writer provides several ways for you to control page layouts: page styles, columns, frames, tables, and sections. For more information, see Chapter 4, Formatting Pages, in the Writer Guide.


Page layout is usually easier if you show text, object, table, and section boundaries in Tools Options LibreOffice Appearance, and paragraph ends, tabs, breaks, and other items in Tools Options LibreOffice Writer Formatting Aids.

Which layout method to choose?

The best layout method varies depending on what the final document should look like and what sort of information will be in the document. Here are some examples.

For a book similar to this user guide, with one column of text, some figures without text beside them, and some other figures with descriptive text, use page styles for basic layout, and tables to place figures beside descriptive text when necessary.

For an index or other document with two columns of text, where the text continues from the left-hand column to the right-hand column and then to the next page, all in sequence (also known as “snaking columns” of text), use page styles (with two columns). If the title of the document (on the first page) is full-page width, put it in a single-column section.

For a newsletter with complex layout, two or three columns on the page, and some articles that continue from one page to some place several pages later, use page styles for basic layout. Place articles in linked frames and anchor graphics to fixed positions on the page if necessary.

For a document with terms and translations to appear side-by-side in what appear to be columns, use a table to keep items lined up, and so you can type in both “columns”.

Creating headers and footers

A header is an area that appears at the top of a page. A footer appears at the bottom of the page. Information such as page numbers inserted into a header or footer displays on every page of the document with that page style.

To insert a header, choose Insert Header Default (or the page style, if not Default).

Other information such as document titles and chapter titles is often put into the header or footer. These items are best added as fields. That way, if something changes, the headers and footers are updated automatically. Here is one common example.

To insert the document title into the header:

  1. Choose File Properties Description and type a title for your document.

  2. Add a header (Insert Header Default).

  3. Place the cursor in the header part of the page.

  4. Choose Insert Fields Title. The title should appear on a gray background (which does not show when printed and can be turned off).

  5. To change the title for the whole document, go back to File Properties Description.

Fields are covered in detail in Chapter 14, Working with Fields, in the Writer Guide.

For more about headers and footers, see Chapter 4, Formatting Pages, and Chapter 6, Introduction to Styles, in the Writer Guide.

Numbering pages

To automatically number pages:

  1. Insert a header or footer, as described in “Creating headers and footers” on page 24.

  2. Place the cursor in the header or footer where you want the page number to appear and choose Insert Fields Page Number.

Including the total number of pages

To include the total number of pages (as in “page 1 of 12”):

  1. Type the word “page” and a space, then insert the page number as above.

  2. Press the spacebar once, type the word “of” and a space, then choose Insert Fields Page Count.


The Page Count field inserts the total number of pages in the document, as shown on the Statistics tab of the document’s Properties window (File Properties). If you restart page numbering anywhere in the document, then the total page count may not be what you want. See Chapter 4, Formatting Pages, in the Writer Guide for more information.

Restarting page numbering

Often you will want to restart the page numbering at 1, for example on the page following a title page or a table of contents. In addition, many documents have the “front matter” (such as the table of contents) numbered with Roman numerals and the main body of the document numbered in Arabic numerals, starting with 1.

You can restart page numbering in two ways.

Method 1:

  1. Place the cursor in the first paragraph of the new page.

  2. Choose Format Paragraph.

  3. On the Text Flow tab of the Paragraph dialog (Figure 20 on page 21), select Breaks.

  4. Select Insert and then With Page Style and specify the page style to use.

  5. Specify the page number to start from, and then click OK.


Method 1 is also useful for numbering the first page of a document with a page number greater than 1. For example, you may be writing a book, with each chapter in a separate file. Chapter 1 may start with page 1, but Chapter 2 could begin with page 25 and Chapter 3 with page 51.

Method 2:

  1. Insert Manual break.

  2. By default, Page break is selected on the Insert Break dialog (Figure 22).

  3. Choose the required page Style.

  4. Select Change page number.

  5. Specify the page number to start from, and then click OK.


Changing page margins

You can change page margins in two ways:


If you change the margins using the rulers, the new margins affect the page style and will be shown in the Page Style dialog the next time you open it.

Because the page style is affected, the changed margins apply to all pages using that style.

To change margins using the rulers:

  1. The gray sections of the rulers are the margins. Put the mouse cursor over the line between the gray and white sections. The pointer turns into a double-headed arrow.

  2. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse to move the margin.



The small arrows on the ruler are used for indenting paragraphs. They are often in the same place as the page margins, so you need to be careful to move the margin marker, not the arrows. Place the mouse pointer between the arrows and, when the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow, you can move the margin (the indent arrows will move with it).

To change margins using the Page Style dialog:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the page and select Page from the pop-up menu.

  2. On the Page tab of the dialog, type the required distances in the Margins boxes.

Adding comments to a document

Authors and reviewers often use comments (formerly called “notes”) to exchange ideas, ask for suggestions, or mark items needing attention.

To insert a comment in the text, place the cursor in the place the comment refers to and choose Insert Comment or press Ctrl+Alt+N. The anchor point of the comment is connected by a dotted line to a box on the right-hand side of the page where you can type the text of the comment. Writer automatically adds at the bottom of the comment the author’s name and a time stamp indicating when the comment was created. Figure 24 shows an example of text with comments from two different authors.


Choose Tools Options User Data to configure the name you want to appear in the Author field of the comment, or to change it.

If more than one person edits the document, each author is automatically allocated a different background color.

Right-clicking on a comment pops up a menu where you can delete the current comment, all the comments from the same author, or all the comments in the document. From this menu, you can also apply some basic formatting to the text of the comment. You can also change the font type, size, and alignment from the main menu.

To navigate from one comment to another, open the Navigator (F5), expand the Comments section, and click on the comment text to move the cursor to the anchor point of the comment in the document. Right-click on the comment to quickly edit or delete it.

You can also navigate through the comments using the keyboard. Use Ctrl+Alt+Page Down to move to the next comment and Ctrl+Alt+Page Up to move to the previous comment.

Creating a table of contents

Writers table of contents feature lets you build an automated table of contents from the headings in your document. Before you start, make sure that the headings are styled consistently. For example, you can use the Heading 1 style for chapter titles and the Heading 2 and Heading 3 styles for chapter subheadings.

Although tables of contents can be customized extensively in Writer, often the default settings are all you need. Creating a quick table of contents is simple:

  1. When you create your document, use the following paragraph styles for different heading levels (such as chapter and section headings): Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, and so on. These are what will appear in your table of contents.

  2. Place the cursor where you want the table of contents to be inserted.

  3. Choose Insert Indexes and Tables Indexes and Tables.

  4. Change nothing in the Insert Index/Table dialog. Click OK.

If you add or delete text (so that headings move to different pages) or you add, delete, or change headings, you need to update the table of contents.

To do this:

  1. Place the cursor within the table of contents.

  2. Right-click and choose Update Index/Table from the pop-up menu.


If you cannot place your cursor in the table of contents, choose Tools Options LibreOffice Writer Formatting Aids, and then select Enable in the Cursor in protected areas section.

You can customize an existing table of contents at any time. Right-click anywhere in it and choose Edit Index/Table from the pop-up menu. Chapter 12, Creating Tables of Contents, Indexes and Bibliographies, of the Writer Guide describes in detail all the customizations you can choose.

Creating indexes and bibliographies

Indexes and bibliographies work in a similar way to tables of contents. Chapter 12, Creating Tables of Contents, Indexes and Bibliographies, in the Writer Guide describes the process in detail.

In addition to alphabetical indexes, other types of indexes supplied with Writer include those for illustrations, tables, and objects, and you can even create a user-defined index. For example, you might want an index containing only the scientific names of species mentioned in the text, and a separate index containing only the common names of species. Before creating some types of indexes, you first need to create index entries embedded in your Writer document.

Working with graphics

Graphics in Writer are of three basic types:

See Chapter 11, Graphics, the Gallery, and Fontwork, in this book and Chapter 8, Working with Graphics, in the Writer Guide.


See Chapter 10, Printing, Exporting, and E mailing, in this book and Chapter 5, Printing, Exporting, Faxing, and E mailing, in the Writer Guide for details on previewing pages before printing, selecting print options, printing in black and white on a color printer, printing brochures, and other printing features.

Using mail merge

Writer provides very useful features to create and print:

All these facilities use a registered data source (a spreadsheet or database containing the name and address records and other information).

Chapter 11, Using Mail Merge, in the Writer Guide describes the process.

Tracking changes to a document

You can use several methods to keep track of changes made to a document.

  1. Make your changes to a copy of the document (stored in a different folder, or under a different name, or both), then use Writer to combine the two files and show the differences. Choose Edit Compare Document. This technique is particularly useful if you are the only person working on the document, as it avoids the increase in file size and complexity caused by the other methods.

  2. Save versions that are stored as part of the original file. However, this method can cause problems with documents of non-trivial size or complexity, especially if you save a lot of versions. Avoid this method if you can.

  3. Use Writer’s change marks (often called “redlines” or “revision marks”) to show where you have added or deleted material, or changed formatting. Choose Edit Changes Record. Later, you or another person can review and accept or reject each change. Right-click on an individual change and choose Accept Change or Reject Change from the pop-up menu, or choose Edit Changes Accept or Reject to view the list of changes and accept or reject them. Details are in the Writer Guide.


Not all changes are recorded. For example, changing a tab stop from align left to align right, and changes in formulas (equations) or linked graphics are not recorded.

Using fields

Fields are extremely useful features of Writer. They are used for data that changes in a document (such as the current date or the total number of pages) and for inserting document properties such as name, author, and date of last update. Fields are the basis of cross-referencing (see below); automatic numbering of figures, tables, headings, and other elements; and a wide range of other functions—far too many to describe here. See Chapter 14, Working with Fields, in the Writer Guide for details.

Linking to another part of a document

If you type in cross-references to other parts of a document, those references can easily get out of date if you reorganize the order of topics, add or remove material, or reword a heading. Writer provides two ways to ensure that your references are up to date, by inserting links to other parts of the same document or to a different document:

The two methods have the same result if you Control+click the link when the document is open in Writer: you are taken directly to the cross-referenced item. However, they also have major differences:

Using hyperlinks

The easiest way to insert a hyperlink to another part of the same document is by using the Navigator:

  1. Open the document containing the items you want to cross-reference.

  2. Open the Navigator by clicking its icon, choosing View Navigator, or pressing F5.

  3. Click the arrow next to the Drag Mode icon, and choose Insert as Hyperlink.

  4. In the list at the bottom of the Navigator, select the document containing the item that you want to cross-reference.

  5. In the Navigator list, select the item that you want to insert as a hyperlink.

  6. Drag the item to where you want to insert the hyperlink in the document. The name of the item is inserted in the document as an active hyperlink.


You can also use the Hyperlink dialog to insert and modify hyperlinks within and between documents. See Chapter 12, Creating Web Pages.

Using cross-references

If you type in references to other parts of the document, those references can easily get out of date if you reword a heading, add or remove figures, or reorganize topics. Replace any typed cross-references with automatic ones and, when you update fields, all the references will update automatically to show the current wording or page numbers. The Cross-references tab of the Fields dialog lists some items, such as headings, bookmarks, figures, tables, and numbered items such as steps in a procedure. You can also create your own reference items; see “Setting References” in Chapter 14, Working with Fields, in the Writer Guide for instructions.

To insert a cross-reference to a heading, figure, bookmark, or other item:

  1. In your document, place the cursor where you want the cross-reference to appear.

  2. If the Fields dialog is not open, click Insert Cross-reference. On the Cross-references tab, in the Type list, select the type of item to be referenced (for example, Heading or Figure). You can leave this page open while you insert many cross-references.


  1. Click on the required item in the Selection list, which shows all the items of the selected type. In the Format list, choose the format required. Usually this will be Reference (to insert the full text of the heading or caption), Category and Number (to insert the word “Figure or “Table” and its number, but without the caption text), Numbering (to insert only the figure or table number, without the word “Figure” or “Table”), or Page (to insert the number of the page the referenced text is on). Click Insert.

Using bookmarks

Bookmarks are listed in the Navigator and can be accessed directly from there with a single mouse click. You can cross-reference to bookmarks and create hyperlinks to bookmarks, as described above.

  1. Select the text you want to bookmark. Click Insert Bookmark.

  2. On the Insert Bookmark dialog, the larger box lists any previously defined bookmarks. Type a name for this bookmark in the top box, and then click OK.


Using master documents

Master documents are typically used for producing long documents such as a book, a thesis, or a long report; or when different people are writing different chapters or other parts of the full document, so you don’t need to share files. A master document joins separate text documents into one larger document, and unifies the formatting, table of contents (TOC), bibliography, index, and other tables or lists.

Yes, master documents do work in Writer. However, until you become familiar with them, you may think that master documents are unreliable or difficult to use. See Chapter 13, Working with Master Documents, in the Writer Guide.

Creating fill-in forms

A standard text document displays information: a letter, report, or brochure, for example. Typically the reader may edit everything or nothing in any way. A form has sections that are not to be edited, and other sections that are designed for the reader to make changes. For example, a questionnaire has an introduction and questions (which do not change) and spaces for the reader to enter answers.

Forms are used in three ways:

Writer offers several ways to fill information into a form, including check boxes, option buttons, text boxes, pull-down lists and spinners. See Chapter 15, Using Forms in Writer, in the Writer Guide.