1.2. Word Processing with Writer

Figure 1.1. The OpenOffice.org Writer

The OpenOffice.org Writer

There are two ways to create a new document. To create a document from scratch, use File+New+Text Document. To use a standard format and predefined elements for your own documents, try a wizard. Wizards are small utilities that let you make some basic decisions then produce a ready-made document from a template. For example, to create a business letter, select File+Wizards+Letter. Using the wizard's dialogs, easily create a basic document using a standard format. A sample wizard dialog is shown in Figure 1.2, “An OpenOffice.org Wizard” (↑Applications).

Figure 1.2. An OpenOffice.org Wizard

An OpenOffice.org Wizard

Enter text in the document window as desired. Use the Formatting toolbar or the Format menu to adjust the appearance of the document. Use the File menu or the relevant buttons in the toolbar to print and save your document. With the options under Insert, add extra items to your document, such as a table, picture, or chart.

1.2.1. Selecting Text

To select text, click the desired beginning of the selection and, keeping the mouse button pressed, move the cursor towards the end of the range (which can be characters, lines, or entire paragraphs). Release the button when all desired text is selected. While selected, text is displayed in inverted colors. Open a context menu by right-clicking the selection. Use the context menu to change the font, the font style, and other text properties.

Selected text can be cut or copied to the clipboard. Cut or copied text can be pasted back into the document at another location. Use the context menu, Edit, or the relevant toolbar icons to access these functions.

1.2.2. Navigating in Large Documents

The Navigator displays information about the contents of a document. It also enables you to jump quickly to the different elements included. For example, use the Navigator to get a quick overview of all the chapters or to see a list of the images included in the document. Open it by selecting Edit+Navigator or by pressing F5. Figure 1.3, “The Navigator in Writer” (↑Applications) shows the Navigator in action. The elements listed in the Navigator vary according to the document loaded in Writer.

Figure 1.3. The Navigator in Writer

The Navigator in Writer

1.2.3. Formatting with Styles

The dialog opened with Format+Styles and Formatting can help you format text in a number of ways. If you set the drop-down list at the bottom of this dialog to Automatic, OpenOffice.org tries to offer a selection of styles adapted to the task at hand. If you select All Styles, the Stylist offers all styles from the currently active group. Select groups with the buttons at the top.

By formatting your text with this method, called soft formatting, text is not formatted directly. Instead, a style is applied to it. The style can be modified easily, automatically resulting in a formatting change of all the text to which it is assigned.

To assign a style to a paragraph, select the style to use then click the paint bucket icon in Styles and Formatting. Click the paragraphs to which to assign the style. Stop assigning the style by pressing Esc or clicking the paint bucket icon again.

Easily create your own styles by formatting a paragraph or a character as desired using the Format menu or toolbar. Select the formatted item from which to copy the style. Then click and hold the button to the right of the bucket in Styles and Formatting and select New Style from Selection from the menu that opens. Enter a name for your style and click OK. This style can then be applied to other texts.

Change details of a style by selecting it in the list, right-clicking, and selecting Modify from the menu. This opens a dialog in which all the possible formatting properties are available for modification.