Writer Guide

Chapter 3
Working with Text


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 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html), version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), version 3.0 or later.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


Ron Faile Jr.
John M. Długosz
Hal Parker


Please direct any comments or suggestions about this document to: documentation@libreoffice.org


This chapter is based on Chapter 3 of the Writer Guide for OpenOffice.org. The contributors to that chapter are:

Jean Hollis Weber Agnes Belzunce Daniel Carrera
Laurent Duperval Katharina Greif Peter Hillier-Brook
Michael Kotsarinis Peter Kupfer Iain Roberts
Gary Schnabl Barbara M. Tobias Michele Zarri
Sharon Whiston

Publication date and software version

Published 17 March 2011. 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



Open context menu

Ctrl (Control)

z (Command)

Used with other keys



Open the Navigator



Open Styles & Formatting window


Copyright 2

Note for Mac users 2

Introduction 5

Selecting text 5

Selecting items that are not consecutive 5

Selecting a vertical block of text 6

Cutting, copying, and pasting text 6

Finding and replacing text 7

Find and replace specific formatting 8

Find and replace paragraph styles 9

Use wildcards (regular expressions) 9

Inserting special characters 10

Inserting non-breaking spaces and hyphens 11

Inserting en and em dashes 11

Formatting paragraphs 12

Setting tab stops and indents 13

Changing the default tab stop interval 14

Formatting characters 15

Autoformatting 15

Creating numbered or bulleted lists 16

Using the Bullets and Numbering toolbar 17

Example: configuring a nested list 17

Using footnotes and endnotes 19

Inserting footnotes/endnotes 19

Defining the format of footnotes/endnotes 20

Checking spelling 21

Using built-in language tools 22

Using paragraph and character styles 22

Using Tools → Language 22

Using language settings in Options 23

Using the status bar 23

Using synonyms and the thesaurus 24

Hyphenating words 25

Automatic hyphenation 25

Manual hyphenation 26

Using AutoCorrect 27

Using word completion 28

Using AutoText 29

Creating AutoText 29

Inserting AutoText 30

Printing a list of AutoText entries 30

Line numbering 30

Tracking changes to a document 31

Preparing a document for review 32

Recording changes 32

Accepting or rejecting changes 33

Merging modified documents 34

Comparing documents 35

Adding other comments 35

Linking to another part of a document 36

Using cross-references 36

Using bookmarks 37

Using hyperlinks 37

Inserting hyperlinks using the Navigator 37

Inserting hyperlinks using a dialog box 38

Editing hyperlinks 39

Switching between insert and overwrite mode 39

Counting the words in a selection 40

Changing the case of selected text 40


This chapter covers the basics of working with text in Writer, the word-processing component of LibreOffice (LibreOffice). It assumes that you are familiar with the use of a mouse and keyboard and that you have read about Writer’s menus and toolbars and other topics covered in Chapter 1, Introducing Writer.

We recommend that you also follow the suggestions in Chapter 2, Setting up Writer, about displaying formatting aids, such as end-of-paragraph marks, and selecting other setup options.

When you have read this chapter, you should know how to:

Selecting text

Before you can do anything with text, you need to select it. Selecting text in Writer is similar to selecting anything in other applications.

In addition to selecting blocks of text, you can select items that are not consecutive, and columns (vertical blocks) of text.

Selecting items that are not consecutive

To select nonconsecutive items (as shown in Figure 1) using the mouse:

  1. Select the first piece of text.

  2. Hold down the Control (Ctrl) 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, and so on).

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 LibreOffice Help (F1).)

  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 required.

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 you can highlight the selection, using mouse or keyboard, as shown in Figure 2.


Cutting, copying, and pasting text

Cutting and copying text in Writer is similar to cutting and copying text in other applications. 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. In either case, 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, then the pasted text keeps its original formatting (such as bold or italics). 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 text surrounding where it is pasted, you can:

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 3 for an example with text on the clipboard.

This example includes the formatting option DDE link. DDE is an acronym for Dynamic Data Exchange, a mechanism whereby selected data in document A can be pasted into document B as a linked, ‘live’ copy of the original. It would be used, for example, in a report written in Writer containing time varying data, such as sales results sourced from a Calc spreadsheet. The DDE link ensures that, as the source spreadsheet is updated so is the report, thus reducing the scope for error and reducing the work involved in keeping the Writer document up to date.

Finding and replacing text

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

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

To display the Find & Replace dialog box, 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. (See below for some other choices.)

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


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


Find and replace specific formatting

A very powerful use of Find & Replace takes advantage of the Format option. For example, you might want to replace underlined words with italics.

On the Find & Replace dialog box (with More Options displayed, as in Figure 4):

  1. To search for text with specific formatting, enter the text in the Search for box. To search for specific formatting only, delete any text in the Search for box.

  2. Click Format… to display the Text Format (Search) dialog box. The tabs on this dialog box are similar to those on the Paragraph format and Paragraph Style dialog boxes.

  3. Choose the formats you want to search for and then click OK. The names of selected formats appear under the Search for box. For example, you might search for all text in 14-point bold Times New Roman.

  4. To replace text as well as formatting, type the replacement text in the Replace with box.

To search for specific text with specific formatting (for example, the word hello in bold), specify the formatting, type the text in the Search for box and leave the Replace with box blank.

To remove specific character formatting, click Format, select the Font tab, then select the opposite format (for example, No Bold). The No Format button on the Find & Replace dialog box clears all previously selected formats.

  1. Click Find, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.


Unless you plan to search for other text using those same attributes, click No Format to remove the attributes after completing your search. If you forget to do this, you may wonder why your next search fails to find words you know are in the document.

Find and replace paragraph styles

If you combine material from several sources, you may discover that lots of unwanted paragraph styles have suddenly shown up in your document. To quickly change all the paragraphs from one (unwanted) style to another (preferred) style:

  1. On the expanded Find & Replace dialog box (Figure 4), select Search for Styles. (If you have attributes specified, this option is labeled Including Styles.) The Search for and Replace with boxes now contain a list of styles.

  2. Select the styles you want to search for and replace.

  3. Click Find, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each style that you want to replace.

Use wildcards (regular expressions)

Wildcards (also known as regular expressions) are combinations of characters that instruct LibreOffice how to search for something. Regular expressions are very powerful but not very intuitive. They can save time and effort by combining multiple finds into one.

Table 1 shows a few of the regular expressions used by LibreOffice.

Table 1. Examples of search wildcards (regular expressions)

To find

Use this expression

Examples and comments

Any single character


b.d finds bad, bud, bid, and bed.

One of the specified characters


b[iu]n finds bin and bun.

Any single character in this range


[r-t]eed finds reed, seed, and teed; ranges must be in alphabetically ascending order.

Any single character except the characters inside the brackets


p[^a]st finds post and pest, but not past.

The beginning of a word


\<log finds logbook and logistics, but not catalog.

The end of a word


log\> finds catalog, but not logistics.

A paragraph marker


Does not work as a replacement character. Use \n instead.

A line break


Finds a line break that was inserted with Shift+Enter. When used as a replacement character, it inserts a paragraph marker.


The online help describes many more regular expressions and their uses.


To search for a character that is defined as a wildcard, type a backslash (\) before the character. For example, to find the text $5.00, you would conduct a search using \$5\.00.

To use wildcards and regular expressions when searching and replacing:

  1. On the Find & Replace dialog box, click More Options to see more choices. On this expanded dialog box (Figure 4), select the Regular expressions option.

  2. Type the search text, including the wildcards, in the Search for box and the replacement text (if any) in the Replace with box. Not all regular expressions work as replacement characters; the line break (\n) is one that does work.

  3. Click Find, Find All, Replace, or Replace All (not recommended).

Inserting special characters

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

  1. Place the cursor in your document where you want the character to appear.

  2. Click Insert Special Character to open the Special Characters dialog box.

  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 box. As you select each character, it is shown on the lower right, along with the numerical code for that character.



The characters selected appear in the bottom-left corner of the dialog box.


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

Inserting non-breaking spaces and hyphens

Non-breaking spaces

To prevent two words from being separated at the end of a line, press Control+spacebar after the first word.

Non-breaking hyphen

You can use a non-breaking hyphen 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. To insert a non-breaking hyphen, press Shift+Control+minus sign.

These are also available through Insert Formatting Mark.

Inserting en and em dashes

To enter en and em dashes, you can use the Replace dashes option under Tools AutoCorrect Options (Figure 14 on page 16). This option replaces two hyphens, under certain conditions, with the corresponding dash.

In the following table, the A and B represent text consisting of letters A to z or digits 0 to 9.

Text that you type:


A - B (A, space, hyphen, space, B)

A – B (A, space, en-dash, space, B)

A -- B (A, space, hyphen, hyphen, space, B)

A – B (A, space, en-dash, space, B)

A--B (A, hyphen, hyphen, B)

A—B (A, em-dash, B)

A-B (A, hyphen, B)

A-B (unchanged)

A -B (A, space, hyphen, B)

A -B (unchanged)

A --B (A, space, hyphen, hyphen, B)

A –B (A, space, en-dash, B)

Another means of inserting en or em dashes is through the Insert Special Characters menu. Select the U+2013 or U+2014 character (found in the General punctuation subset), respectively.

A third method uses keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts vary depending on your operating system.


You can also record macros to insert en and em dashes and assign those macros to unused key combinations, for example Ctrl+Shift+N and Ctrl+Shift+M. For more information, see Chapter 17, Customizing Writer.


On most non-Asian installations of Windows, hold down one of the Alt keys and type on the numeric keypad: 0150 for an en dash or 0151 for an em dash. The dash appears when you release the Alt key.


On a keyboard with no numeric keypad, use a Fn (Function) key combination to type the numbers. (The Fn key is usually to the right of the left-hand Ctrl key on the keyboard.)

For example, on a US keyboard layout, the combination for an en dash should be Alt+Fn+mjim and for an em dash it should be Alt+Fn+mjij.


Hold down the Compose key and type two hyphens and a period for an en dash, or three hyphens for an em dash. The dash appears when you release the Compose key.


The key that operates as a Compose key varies with the Linux distribution. It is usually one of the Alt or Win keys, but may be another key, and should be user-selectable.

Mac OS X

Hold down the Option (Alt) key and type a hyphen for an en dash. For an em dash, the combination is Shift+Option+Hyphen.

Formatting paragraphs

You can apply many formats to paragraphs using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar. Figure 6 shows the Formatting toolbar as a floating toolbar, customized to show only the buttons for paragraph formatting. If you have Asian or Complex Text Layout language support enabled, two additional buttons are available: Left-to-Right and Right-to-Left.


It is highly recommended that you use paragraph styles rather than manually formatting paragraphs, especially for long or standardized documents. For information on the advantages of styles and how to use them, see Chapters 6 and 7 in this book.


Figure 7 shows examples of the text alignment options.


When using justified text, the last line is by default aligned to the left; however, if so desired, you can also align the last line to the center of the paragraph area or justify it so that spaces are inserted between the words in order to fill the whole line. In the case where the last line consists of a single word, you can also have this word stretched to cover the whole line. Figure 8 shows an example of the effect obtained when setting each of these options.


These options are controlled in the Alignment page of the Format Paragraph dialog box.


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. 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 box. Double-click anywhere between the left and right indent icons on the ruler to open the Tabs page of the Paragraph dialog box.

A better strategy is to define tabs for the paragraph style. Refer to Chapters 6 and 7 for more about paragraph styles.



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, as shown in Figure 12. Click on one of them to change the ruler to that unit. The selected setting applies only to that ruler.


Formatting characters

You can apply many formats to characters using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar. Figure 13 shows the Formatting toolbar customized to show only the buttons for character formatting.

It is highly recommended that you use character styles rather than manually formatting characters. For information on styles and how to use them, see Chapters 6 and 7.



To remove manual formatting, select the text and choose Format Default Formatting from the main menu bar, or right-click and choose Default Formatting from the pop-up menu.


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

The Help describes each of these choices and how to activate the autoformats. Some common unwanted or unexpected formatting changes include:


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


To automatically format the file according to the options you have set, choose Format AutoCorrect and select or deselect the items on the submenu.

While Typing

Automatically formats the document while you type.


Automatically formats the document.

Apply and Edit Changes

Automatically formats the file and then opens a dialog box where you can accept or reject the changes.

AutoCorrect Options

Opens the AutoCorrect dialog (Figure 14).

Creating numbered or bulleted lists

There are several ways to create numbered or bulleted lists:

To produce a numbered or bulleted list, select the paragraphs in the list and then click on the appropriate icon on the toolbar.


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

Using the Bullets and Numbering toolbar

You can create a nested list (where one or more list items has a sublist under it, as in an outline) by using the buttons on the Bullets and Numbering toolbar (Figure 15). You can move items up or down the list, create subpoints, and even change the style of bullets.


It is possible to move a list entry up, together with all of its sub-entries. Do this by clicking the Promote One Level With Subpoints button.


If you create a nested list using the buttons on this toolbar, all the levels of the list (up to 10) apply the same numbering (or bullet). However, in many circumstances you will want to use a combination of numbering formats and bullets when creating nested lists. Such lists, with a mixture of numbering formats and bullets, can be easily configured as described in the following example. Additional information on lists, in particular the technique to create your own list style, is described in Chapter 7, Working with Styles.


When creating nested lists, one option is to enter all the list paragraphs first and apply the levels afterwards.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to move paragraphs up or down the outline levels. Place the cursor at the beginning of the numbered paragraph and press:

Tab Down a level
Shift+Tab Up a level

To insert a tab stop at the beginning of a numbered paragraph (that is, after the number but before the text), press Control+Tab.

Example: configuring a nested list

We will use a numbering style to produce the following effect:

I. Level-1 list item

A. Level-2 list item

i. Level-3 list item

a) Level-4 list item

This example uses one of the supplied styles, Numbering 1. If you intend to reuse this type of nested list, you can also create a new style as illustrated in Chapter 7, Working with Styles.

  1. Open the Styles and Formatting window and click the List Styles icon at the top. Specify All in the drop-down list at the bottom of the window. Right-click on the Numbering 1 style and choose Modify from the pop-up menu.


  1. On the Numbering Style dialog box, go to the Outline page, where you will find that one style matches our requirements. Click once on that style.


  1. To modify the layout of the list, use the Options tab (Figures 18 and 19). Notice that the preview on the right shows the outline selected. In the Level box on the left, select 1, then 2, 3, and 4 and see how the information in the Numbering and After boxes changes.

    Use the Options page to set different punctuation; for example, a period (full stop) after “a” on level 4 instead of a parenthesis.



To make the indentation at each level greater or less than the default, change it on the Position page. Select the level, then make any changes in the indentation, spacing, or numbering alignment.

  1. Repeat for each level as required, then click OK.


With outline numbering you can define different bullet styles for the different levels of a bullet list. Use the Bullets tab of the Bullets and Numbering dialog box (not shown) to select the basic style. Return to the Options tab to customize the bullet for each indent level. Here you can set bullets to any character. See the Graphics tab for more bullets.

Using footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page on which they are referenced. Endnotes are collected at the end of a document.

To work effectively with footnotes and endnotes, you need to:

Inserting footnotes/endnotes

To insert a footnote or an endnote, put the cursor where you want the footnote/endnote marker to appear. Then select Insert Footnote/Endnote from the menu bar or click the Insert Footnote/Endnote Directly or Insert Endnote Directly icon on the Insert toolbar.


A footnote or endnote marker is inserted in the text and, depending on your choice, the cursor is relocated either to the footnote area at the bottom of the page or to the endnote area at the end of the document. Type the footnote or endnote content in this area.

If you use Insert Footnote/Endnote, the Insert Footnote/Endnote dialog box is displayed. Here you can choose whether to use the automatic numbering sequence specified in the footnote settings and whether to insert the item as a footnote or an endnote.


If you use the Insert Footnote/Endnote Directly or Insert Endnote Directly icon, the footnote or endnote automatically takes on the attributes previously defined in the Footnote Settings dialog box.

You can edit an existing footnote or endnote the same way you edit any other text.

To delete a footnote or endnote, delete the footnote marker. The contents of the footnote or endnote are deleted automatically, and the numbering of other footnotes or endnotes is adjusted automatically.

Defining the format of footnotes/endnotes

To format the footnotes themselves, click Tools Footnotes/Endnotes. On the Footnotes/Endnotes Settings dialog box, choose settings as required.


Checking spelling

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 red wavy line disappears.

To perform a separate spelling check on the document (or a text selection) click this button. This checks the document or selection and opens the Spelling dialog box (Figure 23) if any misspelled words are found.


Here are some more features of the spelling checker:

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 for a text selection 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 (Do not check spelling). 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.

Using paragraph and character styles

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 Style dialog box, 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, for information on how to manage the language settings of a style.

Using Tools Language

You can also 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.

For Selection

Applies a specified language to the selected text.

For Paragraph

Applies the specified language to the paragraph where the cursor is located.

For all Text

Applies the specified language to all of the document, including text inserted after making the change.

Using language settings in Options

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 (Figure 24), you can choose a different language for all the text that is not explicitly marked as a different language.



Unlike the menu tool that applies to the individual document, a change in the default language from the Options dialog box is a general change of settings of LibreOffice and will therefore apply to all the documents created in the future. If you want to change the language for the current document only, be sure to select the For the current document only option.

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

Using the status bar

The language used for checking spelling is also shown in the status bar, next to the page style in use. You can change the language for the paragraph or the entire document; click on the language in the status bar to pop up a menu of choices.


Notice the Reset to Default Language option on the menu and submenu. This is the fastest way to return a paragraph or the entire document to the default language set in Tool Options (described above).

Using synonyms and the thesaurus

You can access a short list of synonyms from the context menu:

  1. Select a word or phrase, right-click, and point to Synonyms on the pop-up menu. A submenu of alternative words and phrases is displayed.


  1. Click on a word or phrase to select it and replace the highlighted word or phrase in the document.

The thesaurus gives a more extensive list of alternative words and phrases. To use the thesaurus:

  1. Select a word or phrase, and then choose Tools Language Thesaurus, or press Control+F7, or right-click and choose Thesaurus from the pop-up menu.

  2. In the dialog box, click on a meaning to show alternative words and phrases for that meaning of the word.

For example, when given the word house, the thesaurus offers several meanings, including dwelling, legislature, sign of the zodiac, and others. If you click on dwelling, you will see dwelling, home, domicile, abode, and other alternatives, as shown in Figure 27.


If the current language does not have a thesaurus installed, this feature is disabled.


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. Each choice has its pros and cons.

Automatic hyphenation

To turn automatic hyphenation of words on or off:

  1. Press F11 to open the Styles and Formatting window. On the Paragraph Styles page, right-click on Default and select Modify.


  1. On the Paragraph Style dialog box, select the Text Flow tab.


  1. Under Hyphenation, select or deselect the Automatically option.

  2. 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. For more on paragraph styles, see Chapter 6, Introduction to Styles, and Chapter 7, Working with Styles.

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


To change the minimal 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.

Hyphenate without inquiry

Specifies that you will never be asked to manually hyphenate words that the hyphenation dictionary does not recognize. If this box is not selected, when a word is not recognized, a dialog box will open where you can manually enter hyphens.

Hyphenate special regions

Specifies that hyphenation will also be carried out in footnotes, headers, and footers.

Hyphenation options set in the Writing Aids dialog box 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 or use Insert Formatting Mark Optional 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.

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”.

Select Tools AutoCorrect Options to open the AutoCorrect dialog box. There you can define what 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 pages of the dialog box 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 box.


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, fields, 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.

AutoText is especially powerful when used with fields. See Chapter 14, Working with Fields, for more information.

Creating AutoText

To store some text as AutoText:

  1. Type the text into your document.

  2. Select the text.

  3. Go to 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 of the dialog box and select New (text only) from the menu (to have the AutoText take on the formatting where it is inserted into a document) or select New (to have the AutoText retain specific formatting no matter where it is inserted).

  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.

To save a table (such as the formatted Tip above) as AutoText:

  1. Create a table and format it the way you want.

  2. Select the table.

  3. Go to Edit AutoText (or press Control+F3).

  4. Type a name for the AutoText, optionally amend the suggested shortcut, and choose the category for the AutoText entry.

  5. Click the AutoText button and select New (because you want the formatting of the table preserved).

  6. Click Close to return to your document.

Inserting AutoText

To insert AutoText, type the shortcut and press F3.

Printing a list of AutoText entries

  1. Choose Tools Macros Organize Macros LibreOffice Basic.

  2. In the Macro from list, expand LibreOffice Macros Gimmicks.

  3. Select AutoText and then click Run. A list of the current AutoText entries is generated in a separate text document. You can then print this document.

Line numbering

Line numbering puts line numbers in the margin. The line numbers are displayed on screen and are printed. Figure 34 shows an example with numbering on every line.


Click Tools Line Numbering and select the Show numbering option in the top left corner of the Line Numbering dialog box (Figure 35). Then click OK.

You can choose how many lines are numbered (for example, every line or every tenth line), the numbering type and whether numbers restart on each page. In addition, a text separator (any text you choose) can be set on a different numbering scheme (one every 12 lines, for example).


Tracking changes to a document

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


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.

Preparing a document for review

When you send a document to someone else to review or edit, you may want to prepare it first so that the editor or reviewer does not have to remember to turn on the revision marks. After you have protected the document, any user must enter the correct password in order to turn off the function or accept or reject changes.

  1. Open the document. To check whether it contains multiple versions, click File Versions. If multiple versions are listed, save the current version as a separate document with a different name and use this new document as the review copy.

  2. With the review copy open, make sure that change recording is turned on. The Edit Changes Record menu item has a check mark next to it when recording is turned on.

  3. Click Edit Changes Protect Records. On the Enter Password dialog box, type a password (twice) and click OK.


A slightly faster alternative to steps 2 and 3 above is to choose File Properties Security tab, click Protect, and enter the password.

Recording changes

See Chapter 2, Setting up Writer, for instructions on setting up how your changes will be displayed.

  1. To begin tracking (recording) changes, choose Edit Changes Record. To show or hide the display of changes, click Edit Changes Show.


    Hold the mouse pointer over a marked change; you will see a Help Tip showing the type of change, the author, date, and time of day for the change. If Extended Tips are enabled, you will also see any comments recorded for this change.

  2. To enter a comment on a marked change, place the cursor in the area of the change and then click Edit Changes Comment. In addition to being displayed as an extended tip, the comment is also displayed in the list in the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box (Figure 38).

    To move from one marked change to the next, use the arrow buttons. If no comment has been recorded for a change, the Text field is blank.


    See also “Adding other comments” on page 35 for a way to annotate text that is not associated with a recorded change.

  3. To stop recording changes, click Edit Changes Record again.


Accepting or rejecting changes

To accept or reject recorded changes, use either of these methods:

The results of accepting or rejecting a change are as follows:

Right-click (context) menu

  1. If recorded changes are not showing, click Edit Changes Show.

  2. Hover the mouse pointer over a recorded change. A box appears with information about the type of change, who made it, and the date and time.

  3. Right-click on the changed text. In the pop-up (context) menu, choose Accept Change or Reject Change.

Accept or Reject Changes dialog box

  1. Click Edit Changes Accept or Reject. The Accept or Reject Changes dialog boxFrame9 (Figure 38) opens.

  2. When you select a change in the dialog box, the actual change is highlighted in the document, so you can see what the editor changed.

  3. Click Accept or Reject to accept or reject the selected change. You can also click Accept All or Reject All if you do not want to review the changes individually.

Changes that have not yet been accepted or rejected are displayed in the list.


To show only the changes of certain people or only the changes on specific days or various other restrictions, use the Filter page (Figure 39) on the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box. After specifying the filter criteria, return to the List page to see those changes that meet your criteria.


Merging modified documents

The processes discussed to this point are effective when you have one reviewer at a time. Sometimes, however, multiple reviewers all return edited versions of a document at the same time. In this case, it may be quicker to review all of these changes at once, rather than one review at a time. For this purpose, you can merge documents in Writer.

To merge documents, all of the edited documents need to have recorded changes in them.

  1. Open one copy.

  2. Click Edit Changes Merge Document and select and insert another copy of the document to be merged with the first.

  3. After the documents merge, the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box opens, as in Figure 38, showing changes by more than one reviewer. If you want to merge more documents, close the dialog box and then repeat step 2.

  4. Repeat until all copies are merged.

All recorded changes are now included in the open copy. Save this file under another name.

Comparing documents

Sometimes reviewers may forget to record the changes they make. This is not a problem with Writer because you can find the changes if you compare documents.

In order to compare documents, you need to have the original document and the one that is edited. To compare them:

  1. Open the edited document. Select Edit Compare Document.

  2. The Insert dialog box appears. Select the original document and click Insert.

Writer finds and marks the changes and displays the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box. From this point, you can go through and accept or reject changes procedure as described earlier.

Adding other comments

Writer provides another type of comments (formerly called “notes”), which authors and reviewers often use to exchange ideas, ask for suggestions, or brainstorm during the review process.

To insert a comment in the text, place the cursor in the place the comment refers to and select 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 40 shows an example of text with comments from two different authors.


Select Tools Options LibreOffice 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 font type, size, and alignment from the menu bar.

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 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.

Linking to another part of a document

If you type in references to other parts of the 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 cross-references

To ensure that references update if you reword a heading, caption, or other linked item, use automatic cross-references. See “Using automatic cross-references” in Chapter 14, Working with Fields, for details.

Using bookmarks

Bookmarks are listed in the Navigator and can be accessed directly from there with a single mouse click. In HTML documents, bookmarks are converted to anchors that you can jump to by hyperlink. For more about bookmarks, see “Using bookmarks” in Chapter 14, Working with Fields.

Using hyperlinks

When you type text (such as website addresses or URL) that can be used as a hyperlink, and then press the spacebar or the Enter key, Writer automatically creates the hyperlink and applies formatting to the text (usually a color and underlining).

If this does not happen, you can enable this feature using Tools AutoCorrect Options Options and selecting the URL Recognition option.

If you do not want Writer to convert a specific URL to a hyperlink, choose Edit Undo Insert from the menu bar or press Control+Z immediately after the formatting has been applied.

You can also insert hyperlinks using the Navigator and the Hyperlink dialog box, and you can modify all hyperlinks using the Hyperlink dialog box, as described in this section.


Hyperlinks between documents can be set as relative or absolute, using the Save URLs relative to option in Tools Options Load/Save General.

Relative linking is only possible when the document you are working on and the link destination are on the same drive, and you need to create the same directory structure on your hard disk as will apply on the destination website.

LibreOffice uses absolute path names internally, so when you move your mouse cursor over a hyperlink, the tooltip displays the absolute reference even when it is set to be a relative link.

Inserting hyperlinks using the Navigator

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 select Insert as Hyperlink.


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

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

  3. 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 box to insert and modify hyperlinks within and between documents.

Inserting hyperlinks using a dialog box

To display the Hyperlink dialog box (Figure 42), click the Hyperlink icon on the Standard toolbar or choose Insert Hyperlink from the menu bar. To turn existing text into a link, highlight it before opening the dialog box.

On the left hand side, select one of the four types of hyperlink:


The top right part of the dialog box changes according to your choice for the hyperlink type. A full description of all the choices, and their interactions, is beyond the scope of this chapter. Here is a summary of the most common choices used in presentations.

For an Internet type hyperlink, choose the type of hyperlink (choose between Web, FTP or Telnet), and enter the required web address (URL).

For a Mail and News type hyperlink, specify whether it is a mail or news link, the receiver address and for email, also the subject.

For a Document type hyperlink, specify the document path (the Open File button opens a file browser); leave this blank if you want to link to a target in the same presentation. Optionally specify the target in the document (for example a specific slide). Click on the Target icon to open the Navigator where you can select the target, or if you know the name of the target, you can type it into the box.

For a New Document type hyperlink, specify whether to edit the newly created document immediately or just create it (Edit later) and the type of document to create (text, spreadsheet, etc.). For a presentation, Edit now is the more likely choice. The Select path button opens a directory picker.

The Further settings section in the bottom right part of the dialog box is common to all the hyperlink types, although some choices are more relevant to some types of links.

Editing hyperlinks

To edit a hyperlink, click anywhere in the link text and then open the Hyperlink dialog box by clicking the Hyperlink icon on the Standard toolbar or choosing Edit Hyperlink from the menu bar. Make your changes and click Apply. If you need to edit several hyperlinks, you can leave the Hyperlink dialog box open until you have edited all of them. Be sure to click Apply after each one. When you are finished, click Close.

The standard (default) behavior for activating hyperlinks within LibreOffice is to use Ctrl+click. This behavior can be changed in Tools Options LibreOffice Security Options, by deselecting the option Ctrl-click required to follow hyperlinks. If clicking in your links activates them, check that page to see if the option has been deselected.

To change the color of hyperlinks, go to Tools Options LibreOffice Appearance, scroll to Unvisited links and/or Visited links, select those options, pick the new colors and click OK. Caution: this will change the color for all hyperlinks in all components of LibreOffice—this may not be what you want.

In Writer and Calc (but not Draw or Impress), you can also change the Internet link character style or define and apply new styles to selected links.

Switching between insert and overwrite mode

With the keyboard, press Insert to toggle between overwrite mode and insert mode. In insert mode, any text after the cursor position moves forward to make room for the text you type; in overwrite mode, text after the cursor position is replaced by the text you type. The current mode is displayed on the Status Bar.

With the mouse, click in the area on the Status Bar that indicates the current mode in order to switch to the other mode.

Counting the words in a selection

Select a block of text and choose Tools Word Count. LibreOffice displays the number of words and characters in the selection as well as the number of words in the document. You can also see the number of words and characters (and other information) in the entire document in File Properties Statistics.

Changing the case of selected text

To quickly change the case of text, select it, choose Format Change Case from the menu bar, and then choose one of the following:

There are also several options that are used with Asian text. These are not “Case”, but are lumped together under a broader meaning of replacing characters with different forms of the same letter. These options are hidden with Asian language support is not enabled.

Writer does not have an automated way to do Title Case, where all words are capitalized except for certain subsets defined by rules that are not universally standardized. To achieve this affect, you can use Capitalize Every Word and then uncapitalize those words that were incorrectly capitalized.