Archive for the ‘Writer’ Category.

New book: Taming Apache OpenOffice

Taming Apache OpenOfficeThis book is for anyone who wants to get up to speed quickly with Apache 3.4. It introduces Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector drawings), Math (equation editor) and Base (database), as well as common features including styles, templates, printing, a gallery of graphics, and macros.

Printed copies of Taming Apache OpenOffice 3.4: Getting Started are available from for US$20.78. Pay at

If you prefer, you can download the PDF here. Cost is US$5.00, on the honor system. Please pay using the button below (Paypal or credit card). This book has no DRM; you may copy it onto as many of your devices as you wish. If you buy a printed copy, you are welcome to a free copy of the PDF.

You can also download individual chapters (PDF or ODT) free from this website. These files may differ slightly from the content of the printed book and full PDF.

Planning a new book

I am preparing to write a book on using styles and templates in Writer, aimed at intermediate and advanced users. I am considering doing it as a series of tutorials, each using a different example (such as a thesis, a magazine, a software user guide), and combine the tutorials into a book, along with a reference section at the back. Examples and context (when and why to use something) are essential, as are lots of diagrams to illustrate concepts such as the sequence of page styles in a book.

The book will be under CC-BY license and will be provided as a free PDF as well as in printed form and possibly in HTML on this website. It should be useful for users of both and LibreOffice (and other derivatives).

I am collecting topics on a wiki page on The Document Foundation’s website, and I will probably also put the list on this website.

You are very welcome to add your “wish list” of topics or examples to be included in the book. I don’t promise to include them all, but it will be a better book if I know what information readers want.

You are also very welcome to review and comment on the book as it develops. I will put drafts on my website for this purpose.

I suspect I won’t get around any time soon to updating the website version of my book on self-publishing, so those pages are mostly out of date, although you can still get the PDF from this page.

OOo 3.3 Writer Guide published

Cover of 3.3 Writer GuideThe OOo 3.3 Writer Guide has been published. PDFs of the full book and of the individual chapters are available from this wiki page.

OOo 3.3 Writer includes some major improvements in a few areas, including the Print dialog, increased document protection (by password), new custom properties, a redesign of the thesaurus, and others. Here is a list of new features.

The user guides for OOo 3.3 are formatted for A4 paper, the international standard size that is close to US Letter. When printed on US Letter (8-1/2×11) paper, the page footers may be in the “non-printing” area at the bottom of the paper (depends on the printer). If this happens, use the “Fit to page” option in your PDF reader to shrink the page a bit so it fits on the paper. (Adobe Reader may default to this setting.)

The printed edition is available from

Work is proceeding on the Calc Guide and other user guides.

Rewriting the chapter on master documents in Writer

I spent a large chunk of today rewriting the chapter on Master Documents in the 3.x Writer Guide. Much of the chapter described an elaborate workaround for a common problem, which has long since fixed by changes in the program, so a lot of the “rewrite” was simply deletion of the obsolete information. I intend to update this page (the original version, written way back when OOo was at version 1.1, and now quite out of date) when I’ve finished revising the chapter in the Writer Guide.

While doing my revisions today, I thought of several important topics that had not previously been covered in the chapter, so I suspect tomorrow will be spent writing up those topics. Then the chapter will be out for review.

I suspect that several other chapters in the various user guides would benefit from similar close inspection and rewriting. Unfortunately, the lack of time and lack of people sufficiently experienced in using OOo who are available to write about it means this type of serious revision rarely occurs.

Edit: The chapter went up for review on 27 October.

Readability Report for on Windows

I haven’t tried this extension to, because I don’t use Windows, but it sounds interesting (if not misused or abused as often happens with “readability” scores). Would like to hear from someone who has used it.

The Readability Report tool scores your document for readability, cohesion and information density. These scores provide the author with an indication of how well the intended audience will understand the text. The scores use a variety of computational linguistic techniques to determine the reading level of the text.