To Tame a Writer

On this page you can find the links to the book To Tame a Writer, a CC text that explains how to get the most out of the LibreOffice Writer word processor.

This book is a translation of an earlier book in Spanish called “Domando al escritor” which has a long history, its first incarnation being a series of articles dating back to 2006.

This edition was written for LibreOffice 6.1, commenting also some of the new features introduced in version 6.2. For a few more features that were not ready when I released the book the articles published in this site after the book. And if you are interested enough in OpenType to go deeper than what is generally necessary (parameters for tags), see also this article (updated).

Someday the book will be updated. Someday.

From an introduction to the “theory” behind word processing to a detailed description of the most varied tools provided by the program, this book offers everything the writer needs to know to create a perfect PDF file with their work, either for distribute it as such or to use it in one of the self publishing services available in the market.

A few pages are also dedicated to complementary tools such as Draw, the vector drawing program, Math, the equation editor, and Chart, the tool to represent data.

To Tame a Writer, 2018 Edition in PDF


Info about the book


Book outline (click to see/hide a short version of the TOC)

The full index has eight pages, so you have a “simplified” version below

  • Basic Ideas
    • About this book, and some general advice: An introduction to the use of the book (to whom it is addressed, the conventions, when to use Writer and when not, etc.).
    • The graphical interface: a description of the graphical interface and how to configure it (menus, toolbars, keyboard shortcuts).
    • Essential tools: user information, comments and control of versions, dictionaries, special characters, the Navigator, etc..
    • The structure of a document: the “theory” on which the use of Writer is based (content-oriented vs. page-oriented, page and paragraph design, etc.).
    • Typography and related topics: everything you never knew you wanted to know about typography, line spacing, etc..
  • Fundamental tools
    • Styles and templates: If you do not know how to use styles, you do not know how to use Writer.
    • Lists and numbering: how to use and configure numbered and bulleted lists, numbering alignment; organize and number chapters, outline levels, numbering types, and so on.
    • Footnotes and Endnotes: how to use and configure them.
    • Indexes: how to create and configure an index, the bibliographic index, and so on.
    • AutoCorrect and AutoText: to facilitate the task of writing.
    • Sections, frames and other floating things: solving difficult problems with powerful tools.
    • Text in columns and tables: all about writing things in columns.
    • Fields, cross-references and similar topics: on how to automate certain content.
  • More tools
    • Draw: an introduction to the vector drawing tool.
    • Math: an introduction to the equation editor.
    • Chart: an introduction to the tool to create plots.
    • Master documents: or how to separate a book into many files without dying in the attempt.
    • Search and replace, the regular expressions: on how to look for text with the most powerful and crazy of the tools.
  • Appendixes
    • The odt format: what is hidden inside a file created by Writer, and how can we take advantage of it.
    • The structure of this book: the styles used to lay out the book.

RAQ (Reasonable to Ask Questions) – Click to see/hide
epub? (click to see/hide)

LibO has a problem when exporting to epub (or xhtml) if OpenType features are used. My book uses OpenType a lot, so to build a valid epub I have two options:

  • Manually modify the CSS code in the exported epub and then fix the remaining issues with sigil or
  • Redo the entire layout of the book to make it “export friendly.” And then fix the remaining issues with sigil

Both options are far beyond my strength right now, so there is no epub for this edition, sorry.

Printed version? (click to see/hide)

Short answer: there is not and will not be in the foreseeable future.
Long answer: maintaining a printed edition is too much work and headaches for nothing, so, unless there is a miracle (for example, a publisher willing to finance me), there is not and there will not be a printed edition. And I warn you, I don’t believe in miracles.

What relationship do you have with the project? (click to see/hide)

Read the whole story here.

Should not it be “shall”? (click to see/hide)

NO! As you can see by the fact that Glamdring is glowing blue, I’m quoting the Books, never the movies, so do not insist: it’s cannot.

Can this book be used with Apache OpenOffice Writer? (click to see/hide)

Not really. Chapter 4 applies perfectly to both versions of Writer, but Chapter 5 only applies to LibreOffice. For the other chapters, it’s a mix, with many of them describing several features that only work in LibreOffice or are implemented in different ways in both packages: with each new LibreOffice version, the UI is becoming increasingly different from that of Apache OpenOffice.

By the way, Apache OpenOffice last feature version was in 2014, since then only a handful of mild (and late) bugfix releases appeared, why are you still asking about it? You need to move to LibreOffice.