Archive for the ‘Instructions’ Category.

Page headers and footers in Writer

A former MSWord user asked about using footers in Writer. The method is easy, but it’s not obvious to someone coming from Word. I’ve now put my response on this page, where I gathered together some explanatory information on the subject.

Aside: Page styles are one of the best features of Writer, IMO. Once I got used to the way they are done, I found them much easier to use than Word’s sections. (BTW, “sections” in Writer are a slightly different concept, which confuses many people at first.) In fact, I find many things much easier to do in Writer than in Word, including almost anything to do with page layout and formatting.

Neither Writer nor Word are desktop publishing (DTP) programs, but both can work well for that purpose if the document isn’t too layout-intensive. I used Word for DTP for years, but when I switched to Writer I found everything much easier to do. The methods used in Writer suit my preferences and ways of working much better.

Create fill-in PDF forms to save & email

I want to use OpenOffice.org to produce some forms for students to fill in and email to their instructors. I want these forms to be in PDF so students can use Adobe Reader (or any other PDF viewer with form-filling capability, if there are any, or any browser equipped with the Adobe Reader plug-in) to fill them in.

Unfortunately, I cannot do that using OOo alone: filled-in PDF forms created by OOo cannot be saved or emailed. (The filled-in data can be dealt with in other ways, not appropriate for this situation.) I did find an easy way to do it, using Adobe Acrobat Standard or Adobe Acrobat Pro. Although I dislike the necessity to use Acrobat, I am doing so for this project. Here is the method I used:

  1. Create the form in OOo Writer. (Refer to Chapter 15, Using Forms, in the Writer Guide.) See Tip below for an easy way to create space for someone to type in answers.
  2. Export the file to PDF. On the General tab of the PDF Options dialog, be sure to select the option for Create PDF form and set the Submit format to PDF.
  3. Open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Choose Forms > Run Form Field Recognition from the menu bar. If you had text fields in the form, the left-hand section of the results should be a Recognition Report. Scroll to the bottom of this section and click on To fix this text field…. (Picture below shows what it looked like after clicking on that link.) This enables typing in the spaces created using the tip at the end of this post.
  4. Creating text fields in PDF form

  5. Save the file under another name if you wish.
  6. Choose Advanced > Enable Usage Rights in Adobe Reader from the menu bar. This is necessary for people to be able to save and email the PDF with the filled-in data.
  7. Save the file.

Tip: If you want to have a space for someone to type in a short answer, you don’t need to create a text box form control. I used the underscore key (Shift+hyphen) to create an underscored space of appropriate length, which Acrobat converted into a type-in field. This also worked when I defined a right-aligned tab with the underscore as the fill-in character. Saved a lot of typing; once the tab was defined, all I needed to do was press the Tab key once to get a whole line of underscores.

However, if you want a multiple-line area for lengthy typing and text wrap at the end of lines, you will need to use a text box form control.

New book: Self-publishing with OpenOffice.org 3 Writer

Self-publishing with OpenOffice.org 3 WriterMy book Self-publishing with OpenOffice.org 3 Writer is now available in paperback from Lulu.com. Downloadable PDF is coming soon.

The online draft version of the book starts here. I will update the online version when I have time.

“Self-publishing using OOo 3 Writer” now online for comment

You can now read and comment on the first draft of “Self-publishing using OOo 3 Writer” online. The book starts here.

Comments are moderated (to eliminate spam). I will be travelling during the next week, with limited internet access (perhaps only once a day), so do not be alarmed if your comments do not appear quickly. If you prefer not to comment in public, please feel free to send me an email instead.

You can still request a PDF version of this draft.

Draft PDF of Self-Publishing using OOo available for review

A complete first draft of my book Self-Publishing using OpenOffice.org 3 Writer is now available in PDF (3.5MB). If you want a review copy, please contact me directly and ask for one.

I hope to get the website copy of the book updated and ready for online comments within the next few days.

You can help by telling me about anything that

  • doesn’t make sense
  • is out of logical order
  • is covered in not enough detail
  • is covered in too much detail for the audience of the book
  • needs more or better illustrations
  • is missing from the book but you think should be covered
  • is covered in two places but should be combined into one place
  • or anything else that you think would make the book more useful for the audience

At this point, please confine your comments to the content, not the inconsistencies of formatting or screen captures or bad page breaks or similar, most of which I am well aware of but unwilling to spend time fixing until I’m confident that I won’t be rewriting or deleting whole sections.

Linking to external data from Calc

While trying to write a section of the Calc Guide about linking to external data, I found the Help information inadequate. It probably makes sense if you already understand the process. I searched for information but found nothing further. So I spent an afternoon testing what happens and wrote this page to explain it. This info is now also part of the draft Calc Guide.

No doubt I’ve missed something, or got something wrong, so do let me know if you find an error or omission in the article.

Managing graphics in Writer

Solveig Haugland has another fine tutorial in her blog: How to insert graphics in OpenOffice Writer that are reasonably manageable. It is much more detailed, with more examples, than the corresponding section in the Writer Guide.

Mail Merge in Openoffice.org

On the Worldlabel.com blog is another great article from Solveig Haugland: Mail Merge in Openoffice.org: Everything You Need to Know. You can read it online or download it in PDF.

If you use OpenOffice.org, Solveig’s own blog, OpenOffice.org Training, Tips, and Ideas is well worth following.