Section 8.1. Using OpenOffice

By now, OpenOffice has become the leading full-function free and open source office suite program for GNU/Linux and is included by default on most distributions, including SUSE, Red Hat, Debian, and others.

This should not take credit away from the other free and open source office suite development projectsKOffice and AbiWord come quickest to mindbut OpenOffice gains the stage here due to the relative maturity of its code base and the elegance of its native open XML file format (which even KOffice has) as well as the suite's ability to run on Windows and its compatibility with the popular proprietary file formats.

8.1.1. "OpenOffice" Versus ""

Certain conventions of language used in this chapter would be confusing if they are not highlighted. The term "OpenOffice," or its abbreviated form "OOo," typically refers to the software, the code, the product, the office suite itself. In referring to the development project, the terms "" or "OOo project" or " development project" apply exclusively. To make things even more confusing, there is also StarOffice, which is based on the same code base, but sold by Sun Microsystems as a commercial product.

8.1.2. The Modules of OpenOffice

One among several hallmarks of OOo is the tight integration of its word processor, spreadsheet, and all other modules , which leads to a strong consistency in features, menu placement, and ease of use. The OpenOffice modules are listed in Table 8-1.

Table 8-1. The modules of OpenOffice

Module name


Label under File New


Word processor

Text Document


Spreadsheet program



Presentation editor



Graphics editor



Web (HTML) editor

HTML Document


Math formulas editor


We cover OOoWriter, OOoCalc, and OOoImpress in this chapter, omitting the remaining modules because they are less frequently used and their features and functions are well supported in the leading reference texts and online documentation for the users who still depend upon them.

8.1.3. OpenDocument and OpenOffice 2

This section of the book was written for OpenOffice 1.1 and therefore will be most helpful to users of Versions 1.1.1 through 1.1.5. By the time of publication, however, the development project will have released OpenOffice Version 2 worldwide.

Generally, OpenOffice 2 looks and feels more like the modern versions of Microsoft Office. This should help smooth transitions to the open source office suite, on both Linux and other platforms.

The most significant development in Version 2 is the new native file format, called "OASIS OpenDocument." This has already been widely embraced by technologists and government IT organizations (a web search for "Massachusetts" and "OpenDocument" offers a revealing start).

OpenDocument is an open XML file format, represented in OpenOffice 2 by the new filename extensions .odt for a text file, .ods for a spreadsheet, and .odp for a presentation file, among others. (Version 1 uses the filename extensions .sxw, .sxc, and .sxi, respectively.) OpenDocument is an upgrade of the same OASIS-based open XML file format used in Version 1; however, OpenDocument has some additional capabilities that make it incompatible with the earlier iteration of the format.

Accordingly, OpenOffice software prior to 1.1.5 cannot open or create files in the OpenDocument file format, and therefore cannot handle files created by users of OpenOffice 2. However, put the OpenDocument filters into Version 1.1.5 so that users of the 1.1 version can easily upgrade to a version that works the way they are familiar with and still open the new OpenDocument files. Users of Version 1.1 or earlier will need to upgrade to OpenOffice 2 in order to gain all the latest functionality and be able to create OpenDocument files themselves.

8.1.4. OpenOffice Writer

OpenOffice Writer (also known as OOoWriter ) is the word processor module included as one of six key components of OpenOffice. By now, OOoWriter is designed to be familiar to users of Microsoft Word. Launching OOoWriter

Configuration of the Launch or Start menu may vary across the Linux distributions. On the Java Desktop System, for example, starting OOoWriter from the Launch menu brings up the Templates and Documents New Document window, where you can select the New Document icon in the left-hand index, then Text Document from the list in the central pane.

You can launch OOoWriter directly if you have created a dedicated Launcher icon on the desktop, taskbar panel, or both. Create a Launcher icon for any module of OpenOffice that you use frequently.

Keep in mind, you may launch any alternative module from within any open module of OpenOffice: on the main menu, select File New [module]. Opening files

To open an OOoWriter or MS Word file, either open the directory where the file is located and double-click on the file's icon or select File Open on the main menu. Then, in the Open window, browse to the appropriate folder, highlight the filename and select the Open button.

Note that MS Office filesthose in the .doc formatopen in OpenOffice in the same way a native OpenOffice document opens. You can edit the MS Office document and save it either in its own format or in OpenOffice's native format. See Table 8-2 for a complete list of file formats available for saving. Saving files

After editing a document, select File Save. A new file will be saved to the user's /home/[user]/Documents directory by default. You can also save a file to its current directory or the default directory with one click of the Save Document icon on the function bar.

For information about the function bar, see "Identifying the toolbars" later in this chapter and Figure 8-2.

If you need to select a different target directory or change the filename or file type, select File Save As. The Save As window then appears, and you can make the appropriate selections and click the Save button. This window is explored further in the following section.

Saving as different file types. If you open an existing document, it is saved by default in its original format. To save as a different file format, select File Save As to open the Save As window. Here you can make the appropriate selections in the File Type drop-down menu , then click the Save button. The file types available in the File Type drop-down are listed in Table 8-2.

Table 8-2. Save files in many formats or file types

File format

File extension (suffix)

OpenOffice 6.0/7 Text Document


OpenOffice 6.0/7 Text Document Template


MS Word 97/2000/XP


MS Word 95


MS Word 6.0


Adobe PDF


Rich Text Format


OOoWriter 5.0


OOoWriter 5.0 Template


OOoWriter 4.0


OOoWriter 4.0 Template


OOoWriter 3.0


OOoWriter 3.0 Template




Text Encoded


HTML Document (OpenOffice Writer)

.html;. htm

AportisDoc (Palm)


DocBook (simplified)


Pocket Word


Note that you can save a native OOo text document file (with the .sxw extension) as several different versions of the legacy MS Office file types as well as in other standard formats, including the web page format of HTML.

You will be warned about a possible loss of formatting when saving to a format other than the native file format. That is, of course, because OOoWriter may support features that other word processors (and therefore their file formats) do not support. So if you want to be absolutely sure that you do not lose any formatting, macros, or other aspects of your documents at all, always save in the native file format, or at least keep a copy in the native file format.

Saving or exporting to common file formats. OpenOffice facilitates saving files in several different file types, including some very useful document standards such as PDF. By choosing the format in which you save a document, you can ensure that your work is viewable and editable in different software environments, such as Windows, Mac, Solaris, and others.

Saving in the MS Word file formats. Chose File Save As from the main menu. In the Save As window, open the File Type drop-down menu and select the desired MS Office file format version. Choices include the following:

  • Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP (.doc)

  • Microsoft Word 95 (.doc)

  • Microsoft Word 6.0 (.doc) Exporting and sending files

There are occasions when it's convenient to quickly send a document in its current form to a colleague. OOo offers a few menu items to help you attach the current document to an email message in a choice of formats.

Export as Adobe PDF . In your current document, click the small, red Export to PDF icon on the menu, and the Export window will open with File Type preselected to Adobe PDF. Notice in Figure 8-1 that the Export window is similar to the Save As window.

Enter the filename, choose a folder in which to save the new PDF file, and press the Save button.

You can achieve the same result by selecting File Export as PDF and filling out the Export window as instructed previously.

PDF is a great format for GNU/Linux users to get into the habit of using often. In a world of mixed computer systems, PDF is one of the most universally accepted file formats, and the security of locking down the content of your files as they get passed around your organization and supply chain can reduce the chances of unhappy, confusing or surprising content alterations.

Figure 8-1. The Export window

Sending a document as an email file attachment. OOoWriter offers a host of facilities for exporting or sending the current document to others through one or two mouse-clicks. To send the current document as an attachment to an email, select File Send Document as Email. This will call up your email program along with a new Compose window with the current OOoWriter document already attached. Fill in the address and subject lines as fitting, perhaps add a few words in the message window, and press the Send button.

This feature automatically sends the attached file in the native or default OpenOffice open XML (.sxw) file format.

Sending a document as a PDF attachment to an email. To send the current document as an Adobe PDF attachment to an email, select File Send Document as PDF Attachment. The PDF Options window appears and lets you select a page range or the whole document, and the amount of file compression. The default compression setting, Print optimized, is fine for most purposes. Identifying the toolbars

The default toolbars of OOoWriterto which we refer oftenare the main menu, the function bar, the object bar, and the main toolbar (see Figure 8-2).

Figure 8-2. The toolbars of OOoWriter

These are merely the default toolbars available out of the box. Other toolbars can be invoked with customization. We cover toolbar customization in the section entitled "OOoWriter Customization," later in this chapter. Basic formatting

This section covers basic formatting techniques for short and simple documents.

One-click character formatting. The text formatting buttons located on the object bar for bold, italic, and underline hardly need to be covered, because even beginning users know their purpose instinctively.

In addition to these one-click font-change object bar buttons, many people enjoy using the shortcut keystroke combinations Ctrl-B, Ctrl-I, or Ctrl-U to effect the same changes on any selected text. These changes affect any word in which the cursor sits, so text selection (using the Shift key and moving the cursor, or selecting text with the mouse) is not necessary unless you are changing multiple words of text.

Character, paragraph, and page formatting. For more customized or fine-grained formatting of textual characters, whole paragraphs, or entire pages, select Format on the main menu. The sequences Format Character, Format Paragraph, and Format Page open the Character dialog, the Paragraph dialog, and the Page Style: Default dialog, respectively.

Inserting headers and footers. To insert a header, go to the main menu, select Insert Header, and check Default in the drop-down menu. This opens a header frame in the current document where you can type or enter the appropriate content that will appear at the top of every page of the document.

Inserting a footer is similar to inserting a header, but select Insert Footers, and check Default.

To change headers or footers in the middle of a document, see "Changing styles in mid-document," later in this chapter.

Page numbering . For most documents it's appropriate to place page numbers in a header or footer. To generate page numbers automatically, insert a header or footer (depending on where you intend the page number to go, at either the top or bottom of each page) and place the cursor inside the live header or footer frame by clicking once there. Then go to the main menu and select Insert Fields. This invokes a drop-down menu with the following choices: Date, Time, Page Number, Page Count, Subject, Title, Author, and Other.

Selecting the Page Number choice inserts the page number automatically at the location of the cursor. If you wish the page number to be located flush right, simply click the Align Right justification icon on the object bar after inserting the page number.

To change or restart page numbering at a certain point in a document, see the section "Changing styles in mid-document."

Generating a table of contents. For a longer written work that is structured with chapters or headings, it is convenient to exploit OOoWriter's ability to autogenerate a table of contents. This feature is often used because manually generating tables and indexes is extremely time-consuming and repetitiveespecially for larger documents.

To generate a table of contents that picks up the headings you've inserted into your document, choose Insert Indexes and Tables and then, from the drop-down menu, Indexes and Tables once again. You can then insert a generic table of contents simply by pressing the OK button of the Insert Index/Tables window, as shown in Figure 8-3.

You can generate a number of different kinds of indexes and tables; the choices include Table of Contents, Alphabetical Index, Illustration Index, Index of Tables, User-Defined, Table of Objects, and Bibliography. Format these indexes and tables from the Insert Index/Table dialog, where you can designate the type of index or table, its layout, the number of heading levels, and other design characteristics. Printing a document

Print the current document in one stroke by simply clicking the printer icon on the function bar.

Figure 8-3. The Insert Index/Table window

More precise control is gained via the Print window: select File Print from the main menu, or simply press Ctrl-P. Here, you can choose a nondefault printer (if one is set up), a limited page range, or a different number of copies (the default is 1) for the current print job. You can also elect to print to a file. Advanced formatting

Although the following sections introduce the strong formatting features of templates and styles below, other advanced formatting features are outside the scope of this chapter. It may help just the same to mention some of the useful features we're unable to cover.

Long-form documents benefit from frames, borders, and sections. These facilities help you format sidebars, set apart quotations, or highlight elements you wish to distinguish from the running text. They provide opportunities for adding colored or shaded backgrounds, changing fonts, and using multiple columns. Text contained in frames can even be set to flow through multiple frames inserted throughout a document. This is especially useful in formatting newsletters, for example, and making them more visually engaging. Templates

A variety of stock templates and a facility for creating, editing, importing, and managing templates are included with OOoWriter. You can access templates by clicking File New Templates and Documents to open the Templates and Documents window. Then highlight the Templates icon on the left-hand index, as shown in Figure 8-4.

Figure 8-4. Templates and DocumentsTemplates

Here you can open one of the various stock templates and work away: edit and save it just as you would a normal document. Documents created this way, however, will not be linked to the template file from which they were derived. See "Template linkages," later in this chapter, for further detail.

Saving your own document as a template. Any of the documents you've created in your filesystem can perform as a template. Quite often users repurpose old files such as office memoranda, fax cover sheets, or business letters and use them to create new documents by simply replacing a few key words. This practice is fine and works well for many people; however, users could be more productive if they took full advantage of OOoWriter's template management facilities and particularly its linkage abilities.

Creating a new template. To create a new template, open a new text document (or use an existing document from your file store) and make the necessary formatting adjustments that you'd like to have in your template. Now, select File Templates Save from the main menu. This calls up the Templates window, which permits you to name the new template and select a template folder or category in which to store it. You can create any number of your own personal templates and store them this way.

Files saved as templates this way will automatically have the .stw file extension appended.

Editing templates . You can edit or generally treat a template file just like any other; however, we recommend editing a template with special care, because it can be easy to open a template file and then save it by mistake as a normal OOoWriter .sxw file, which would interfere with the template's linkages and storage location.

One direct way to edit a template is to select File New Templates and Documents. This opens up the Templates and Documents window directly in the Default folder. Click through the Templates folders to find the template you wish to edit. Click once to highlight it. This will light up the Edit button at the bottom of the window, second from the left. Clicking the Edit button will open your template, ready for edits. When you save via this route, the proper directory path and file format appear automatically in the Save dialog, so there's less opportunity to mishandle your template.

Managing templates. You can also save any of your own documents as a template or, later, move them into one of the Templates folders/categories using the Template Manager (Figure 8-5). Access the Template Manager from the main menu by selecting File Templates Organize.

Figure 8-5. The Template Management window

You can browse documents in the right-hand pane of the Template Manager and drop them into folders in the templates pane on the left-hand side.

Template Manager also offers facilities for importing, updating, and adjusting the printer settings associated with templates.

Importing templates . The template files you encounter in the Template Management window's Default folder are actually stored in the /home/swhiser/OpenOffice. org/user/template directory on the system. The templates you encounter in all the other Template Management folders are actually stored in the /home/swhiser/ directory. (This allows individual users in a multiuser installation of OpenOffice to change their own default master templates without affecting other users on the network.)

To import template files from MS Word or from any trusted outside sources (including useful ones you find on the Web), you can manually copy the templates into the directories just discussed, and they will show up in the folders you expect in the Template Management window. Templates copied in this way will also be available when you use the AutoPilot to create documents from templates.

You can also use the Import Templates feature in the Templates Management window to get external templates into the correct place and into the proper file format (.stw). This ensures that templates and the files derived from them maintain their linkages (see the following section).

A third way to import a template is to select File Save As, choose " Text Document Template (.stw)" as the File Type, and set the path to the appropriate one of the two directories mentioned previously.

Template linkages. Template files are linked to the documents that are derived from those templates. It helps to imagine the template file, or the source file, as the "parent," and the derived document as the "child." Parent-to-child linkage is one of the principal benefits of using templates. When you have a large number of child documents in your Documents folder, for example, you have the ability to update the formatting of all those files in one stroke by altering the formatting of the parent template file. Each time you open a child document, you are prompted to accept or reject the formatting alterations that were previously made to the source template, as illustrated in Figure 8-6.

Figure 8-6. Accept the formatting changes to a subdocument

Linkage is broken, however, if you later save the source template file via File Save As or via the Save icon on the object bar. Thus you should always save a template file via File Templates Save if you wish it to remain linked to its children or to keep using it as a template.

Change the default template for all new text documents. As mentioned earlier, the standard blank document that opens up when you select File New Text Document from the main menu is based on a default template file that is saved in the Templates and Documents New Document window (Figure 8-7).

Figure 8-7. Templates and DocumentsNew Document window

To change the default template for all new text documents, first create a new template with the desired formatting (and add custom styles if desired) as described earlier in "Creating a new template." Save it by selecting File Templates Save, enter the filename (let's call it newdefault), and click once on Default in the Categories pane at the left to save it in that folder.

Then, go into the Template Management window by selecting File Templates Organize and double-click in the left pane to open up the Default folder, where you'll find your new template file, newdefault. Click once upon it to highlight newdefault, and click on the Command button at the far right to view the drop-down choices. Select "Set As Default Template" at the bottom of the list.

To restore the original text document default template, simply click the Command button once again and select Reset Default Template Text Document.

AutoPilot : quick document creation. AutoPilot is like templates on steroids. It offers a way of creating customized documents that are much like templates, but it is a wizard that takes you through a few steps to customize the new document rapidly before launching it. AutoPilot is therefore a useful tool for first-time users who wish to get up and running in OOoWriter quickly.

Access AutoPilot via File AutoPilot, where you'll see a drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 8-8.

Figure 8-8. The AutoPilot

AutoPilot is a wizard that takes you through various steps to create an individual document from a generous list of different document types, including letters, faxes, agendas, memos, presentations, web pages, forms, and reports.

AutoPilot also contains several different utilities to manage document or content conversion: Document Converter, Euro Converter, StarOffice5.2 Database Import, and Address Data Source. Styles

If you work with many people and want them all to make documents that look the same, you definitely need styles . Put another way, any formatting you can apply to text can be turned almost as quickly into a style, which you can then apply over and over through a couple of clicks.

Figure 8-9 shows the button on the function bar (third from right, highlighted) with which you can quickly open the Stylist in order to begin manipulating styles. Alternatively, open the Stylist by pressing the function key, F11.

Once open, the Stylist lets you toggle among the five different style types or style categories: paragraph styles, character styles, frame styles, page styles, and numbering styles. To switch from one style category to another, simply click the corresponding icon at the top left of the Stylist's toolbar.

Figure 8-9. The Stylist On/Off button

The Stylist. The interface to OOoWriter's Styles is a floating palette called the Stylist. It is invoked by pressing the function key F11 or the Stylist On/Off button on the function bar. The Stylist On/Off button looks like a page with a tiny hand on the lower-left corner. The default state of Stylist is to open in Paragraph Styles with the Automatic mode, as shown in Figure 8-10.

Figure 8-10. The Stylist opens to Paragraph Styles

Clicking through the icons on the Stylist's toolbar, you begin to get a feel for the different styles that come with OOoWriter out of the box.

Applying a character style. To apply character styles in the Stylist, click on the Character Styles icon (second from left, showing an A) at the top of the Stylist. This reveals all the default character styles available (the window is in All mode by default).

To apply an italics style, for example, highlight the "Emphasis" character style (fifth from the top of the list by default) with a single click and then click once on the paint can icon, which is third from right at the top of the Stylist (Figure 8-11).

Figure 8-11. The Stylist, ready to paint italics

When you invoke the paint can, your cursor turns into a little paint can tool that makes it easy to apply your chosen style with precision. Click on a word you wish to italicize, or draw the paint can cursor across some text. The paint can now gives you a Midas touch that italicizes everything on which you click. You can turn off the style by pressing F11, clicking on the X icon at the top right of the Stylist box, or choosing a different style.

Modifying styles. To modify a style, press CtrlF11 to bring up the Style Catalog. The resulting window is shown in Figure 8-12. You can also invoke the Style Catalog from the main menu by selecting Format Styles Catalog.

Figure 8-12. The Style Catalog

We've already shown you how to change a particular paragraph or set of characters. You can make similar changes to styles. For instance, if you want list items indented differently from the default indentation used in a list style, you can edit the list style and make it indent each list the way you want. When you modify a style, it immediately takes effect on all existing items in the document, as well as items you create afterward. This section shows you how to modify a style; a later section shows you how to create an entirely new style so you can do things the inventors of OOoWriter didn't anticipate.

Quick-flowing styles modification is one of the key productivity benefits for using styles rather than manual or direct formatting. It permits efficient formatting of large documents for work that is likely to be used by many different people or reused repeatedly.

The Style Catalog displays different styles depending on the style existing at the cursor's current location. This can be very convenient; if you wish to modify a certain style throughout an entire document, just place the cursor on one example of that style and proceed to modify it.

With the Style Catalog open, highlight the style you wish to alter and click the Modify button at the right of the Style Catalog window. This opens the Style Settings window for the highlighted style (in Figure 8-12 this is Default). The Style Settings window is shown in Figure 8-13: here you can change any characteristic that is available for modification.

An alternate way to modify a style is to right-click on the style in the Stylist and choose from New, Modify, or Delete. When you click Modify, the Style Settings window opens and you can make the desired changes.

Figure 8-13. The Style Settings window

Updating styles . Short of creating a whole new style from scratch, you can quickly change an existing style by applying the format of a selected character, paragraph, or page.

To update a particular style, press the function key F11 to open the Stylist. Next, click the icon of the style type you want to update: paragraph, character, or page. Then, click once in the document in the place where you want to copy or update the style. For example, you may be "borrowing" paragraph formatting that you had previously applied manually. Next, in the Stylist, click on the style name you wish to update. Finally, click the Update Style icon at the far right of the Stylist toolbar.

Adding new styles (or creating styles). Although OOoWriter comes with many predefined styles, advanced situations will inevitably need new styles to be added. These styles are also known as custom styles, and they travel with the document with which they were created when it is saved.

To add a new style to the Stylist, first open the Stylist by pressing F11. Next, pick a style type and highlight an existing style in the Stylist that's similar to the new one you wish to create (if such a style exists). Right-click that style and select New. This opens the Style Settings window (shown in Figure 8-13). Here you can set all the characteristics you want for the new style, including its category.

There are two alternative ways to add a new style. One is by clicking the "New Style from Selection" button, which is the second button from the right at the top of the Stylist. This opens the Create Style window, where you can choose a new style from the given list and enter a name for the new style, as shown in Figure 8-14.

Figure 8-14. The Create Style window

Perhaps the best way to create a style that doesn't closely resemble any existing style is to press Ctrl-F11 to open the Style Catalog. Then click the New button on the right side. This opens the Style Settings window, where you can make all the desired selections to create your new style.

Changing styles in mid-document. To change page styles, headers, and footers, or to restart page numbering in mid-document, generally insert a manual break where the cursor sits by selecting Insert Break from the main menu. The Insert Break dialog offers you the opportunity to select a new page style or to change the page number. Headers and footers can be changed at this point by creating new page styles with different header and footer content and invoking these new page styles when inserting the break.

Load (transfer) styles. You can transfer styles into the current document from another document or template by selecting Format Styles Load from the main menu. This calls up the Load Styles window, shown in Figure 8-15. Here you can specify a file containing the styles you want, and load any or all of these styles by checking the desired boxes along the bottom of the window.

Figure 8-15. The Styles Load window Collaboration with documents

When several people create and edit a document together by passing the draft around, it becomes useful to turn on changes tracking. This allows each person's changes and deletions to appear in a different color while the document circulates for drafting.

Changes tracking. To turn on Changes Tracking, select Edit Changes from the main menu and single-click both Record and Show. Once turned on, these settings travel with the document when it is saved, and will stay on until someone un-checks them and saves the document again.

Comparing documents. To compare two different documents, open the first document and select Edit Compare Document. This opens the Insert dialog, where you can select or type in the name of the second document. Click the Insert button at the bottom right of the window. The insert procedure merges the two documents and shows the results using the changes tracking feature, as if you had started with the second document and edited it to create the first. Typical results are shown in Figure 8-16.

Version control. OOoWriter's version control features allow you to keep track of numerous versions of a document from within a single file. This both saves disk storage space and provides ready and quick access to older versions of a document. Thus, if you make edits that you later regret, you can back them out. If somebody asks when a change was made, you can review earlier versions of the document.

Version control is accessed via the main menu under File Versions. This launches the Versions window (see Figure 8-17).

To save a new version of a document on which you're working, choose File Versions from the main menu and click the Save New Version button at the top left in the Versions window. The Insert Version Comment window (Figure 8-18) pops up, permitting you to enter a few phrases to remind yourself and your collaborators later what changes you made and why. Documenting what you've done here lets you also distinguish versions later without having to open each one.

Figure 8-16. Differences are displayed as redlined content

If you use File Save As to save a version on which you are working, none of the version information is preserved; you have instead created a spanking new document. You could, of course, start again with this new document as a base, and use version control once again for future changes.

To open a specific version of a document listed in the Versions window, choose File Versions, highlight the desired version, and click the Open button. This opens the indicated version of the document as a read-only file. You can, if you wish, save this version as a separate document, with no reference to other versions, past or future, by using the File Save As menu option.

Figure 8-17. The Versions window

Figure 8-18. The Insert Version Comment window

To track and show changes from one version to another, click the Compare button in the Versions window. This highlights all version differences (just as when using the Edit Compare Document feature) in a document and gives you the chance to accept and reject each change. Navigator

The Navigator is a floating panel, like the Stylist, that adds horsepower to your ability to rapidly move throughout a document. The Navigator is turned on or invoked by clicking the Navigator button on the main menu, just to the left of the Stylist button, or by pressing the function key F5 at any time.

The Navigator panel displays an expandable outline of all the elements in your document to aid a rapid jump to any one of them. Such elements include headings, tables and text frames, graphics, OLE objects, bookmarks, sections, hyperlinks, references, indexes, notes, and draw objects. If you click on the plus sign in front of any of those object types in the Navigator, you can click on any of the elements listed to immediately scroll the document to that location. Keyboard shortcuts

This section lists the most common keyboard shortcuts that users find valuable for speeding up document composition. The shortcuts are faster than using the mouse and drop-down menus because the keystrokes allow you to keep both hands on the keyboard. Some people in danger of developing repetitive stress syndrome through excessive use of the mouse can find these shortcuts of particular value.

Custom keyboard mappings. The key mappings reflected in Table 8-3 are merely default settings. Users and system administrators are free to change them to reflect their personal or organizational taste or habit by selecting Tools Configure Keyboard.

Table 8-3. Common keystrokes to avoid the mouse



Copy text


Cut text


Paste text


Bold text


Italic text


Underline text


Adjustments to the Function Key defaults can be helpful, too, in the desktop migration process. OpenOffice offers four modesF[1-12], Shift-F[1-12], Ctrl-F[1-12], and Shift-Ctrl-F[1-12]--which creates many openings for custom function key mappings that can aid speed and productivity. Searching a document with Find & Replace

To find and replace characters in a document, press Ctrl-F to open the Find & Replace dialog. Alternatively, you can access the Find & Replace dialog from the main menu by selecting Edit Find & Replace.

Enter the term you're searching for in the "Search for" field (top left), and, if you want to change it, the term you'd like to replace it with in the "Replace with" field. Proceed by pressing the Find button at the top right of the window, and the search will locate the term you're searching for in the nearest location in the document after the placement of the cursor. Continue by pressing the Replace button whenever appropriate. If you come to a term that you don't wish to replace, just press the Find button again to advance to the next example of the search term. Inserting hyperlinks

Inserting hyperlinkstextual references to URLs on the Webinto documents has become essential. To insert a link, choose Insert Hyperlink from the main menu. This invokes the Hyperlink window, where you can enter the name of the link (compete with http://) in the Target field and the text for the link in the document in the Text field, second from the bottom of the window. Other options are also offered, as shown in Figure 8-19.

Figure 8-19. Inserting a hyperlink

Click the Apply button at the left of the series of buttons across the bottom of the window, and your text will appear highlighted and clickable in your document. Close the dialog by clicking the Close button. Test the link to see that it was spelled, punctuated, and typed correctly. If it is correct, clicking on the link in your document will wake up your browser with the target web page in it, and produce a little surge of joy in your heart.

Naming your hyperlinks is a good idea because that will enable you to move quickly among them with the Navigator, where the link names will be listed in outline form and clickable. To enter a name in the Hyperlink window, type a short but descriptive sequence in the Name field at the bottom of the dialog before you click the Apply button.

One may also make a hyperlink from existing text by highlighting the text sequence with the cursor, selecting Insert Hyperlink, and filling out the dialog. Fill in at least the Target field and click the Apply button. Close the dialog by clicking the Close button. Word count

Journalists, authors, and editors depend on this feature for their daily bread, so they can be forgiven anxiety at missing the word count feature. In fact, word count is present in OpenOffice, but it's in a surprising location. The feature is located in MS Word under Tools Word Count, but in OOoWriter it's found under File Properties Statistics. Password-protecting documents

You can secure OOoWriter documents from unwanted access by saving files with password protection turned on. When saving with File Save As, simply check the "Save with password" box and enter and confirm your password when you are prompted to do so during the save.

To turn off whole document password protection at any time, simply choose File Save As, uncheck the "Save with password" box, and complete the save.

OOoWriter offers a variety of ways to protect your documents against alterations to revision markings, sections, frames, graphics, objects, indexes, and tables. Consult the system Help under "passwords : protecting content."

8.1.5. OOoWriter Customization

OpenOffice offers many ways to customize its settings. A quick browse of the five tabs under OOoWriter's Tools Configure (Menu, Keyboard, Status bar, Toolbars, Events) offers a good sense of the scope of OOoWriter's customization possibilities for the advanced user or system administrator. OOoWriter toolbar customization

The workflow habits and nature of the business of each organization dictate the shape of its desktop toolset. So wide latitude in toolbar customization can help system administrators or power users bring the most frequently used toolbars or object elements to the top to increase productivity for themselves or all users in the workgroup.

In addition to the default toolbars available out of the box (main menu, function bar, object bar and main toolbar) the following additional toolbars are available through customization: table object bar, numbering object bar, frame object bar, draw object bar, control bar, text object bar/graphics, Bezier object bar, graphics object bar, objects, text object bar/Web, frame object bar/Web, graphics object bar/Web, object/Web, and user-defined no.1.

You can hide any of the toolbars (except main menu) by unchecking their names in the top half of the context menu that opens when you right-click in the empty space within any of the toolbars (Figure 8-20).

Figure 8-20. The context menu for configuring toolbars

You can further rearrange elements and redesign toolbars to your personal or workgroup preference by choosing any of the other four choices in the bottom half of the contextual menu: Visible Buttons, Configure, Customize, and Reset. Changes made using these commands apply to the specific toolbar on which you right-clicked to call the context menu. Adding an OOoWriter icon on the desktop or taskbar panel

Launching OOoWriter with a quick double-click of an icon is usually faster and preferable to wading through a series of cascading menus. You can add separate Launchers to open each of the OpenOffice modules directly. Here's the easiest way to set up a launcher specifically for OOoWriter on both your desktop workspace or the edge panel across the top or bottom of your desktop. The example is given from the GNOME environment; KDE will be different.

Right-click on an open space on the edge panel and select Add to Panel Launcher from menu Office OpenOffice Text Document (the path may vary across different Linux distributions). This will place a OOoWriter icon onto that location on your Taskbar Panel. To add either an OOoCalc or OOoImpress icon, simply choose OpenOffice Spreadsheet or OpenOffice Presentation in the last step.

To add the same Launcher icon to the desktop space, simply drag and drop the OOoWriter icon you've just created on your taskbar panel onto your desktop workspace. This places a duplicate Launcher icon on the desktop, if that location is useful to you, and you can remove the taskbar panel icon if you wish by right-clicking it and selecting Remove From Panel on the context menu. To remove a desktop icon, right-click it and select Move to Trash in the context menu. Adjusting unpopular default settings

OpenOffice is set by default to automatically complete words, replace certain characters, and capitalize initial letters in a new sentence. If you feel autocorrection to be intrusive while you are typing, the autocorrect settings are easy to adjust to be less intrusive or to turn off completely.

Word Completion (turning off). OOoWriter's Word Completion feature comes turned on by default. Some users find it distracting or annoying to have the word processor program appending the ends of words before they finish typing them. Others are content to ignore the completion action and leave the default alone.

If you like OOoWriter to complete your words, simply press the Enter key when its recommendations are felicitous; otherwise, press the spacebar to reject the program's offering.

To turn Word Completion off, select Tools AutoCorrect/AutoFormat Word Completion and uncheck the box before the phrase "Enable word completion" near the top of the window. Then click the OK button.

Auto-Replace (turning off). If you find Auto-Replace to be invasivesuch as when you attempt to type (c) and it keeps replacing your keystrokes with the copyright symbolyou have two options: edit the replacement list, or turn off Auto-Replace altogether.

Editing the replacement list is straightforward. Select Tools AutoCorrect/AutoFormat and go to the Replace tab. There, highlight the offending element and either press the Delete key or enter a different target result in the With: field.

To turn off the Auto-Replace function, select Tools AutoCorrect/AutoFormat and click on the Options tab. The topmost option is "Use replacement table," with two checkboxes in front. By unchecking both boxes in the [M] and the [T] columns, you can turn off the specific substitutions listed in the replacement table. You can turn off all the other specific automatic replacement actions, too, by unchecking the respective boxes under [M] or [T] as you go down this list in the Options tab.

Part I: Enjoying and Being Productive on Linux
Part II: System Administration