Other Page Layout Options

As we mentioned in beginning our look at Page Layout, you have some options other than just Page Styles and Frame Styles, useful though they are. So let’s spend a few moments looking at these other options and see how they work.

Tables

Tables can be a useful tool for more than just displaying tabular data. You can place different object in each cell of a table and so have some control over how things are laid out on the page. You could, for instance, place your sub-heads in a left-hand column, and the associated text in an adjoining column, which gives you the same effect as using the Marginalia style. And you can add pictures, charts, and other objects as well. You can even insert a table into a cell of another table to get more fine-grained control. In fact, in the days before Cascading Style Sheets and Javascript, tables were the primary way of laying out Web pages, though these days that is frowned upon, and in any case most Web pages are now created using some kind of CMS software like WordPress, or Drupal. The idea of using tables was more attractive when we realized you could turn-off the cell borders and make them invisible. Of course, in Writer documents that only works when they are printed. When opened on a computer the table borders are still visible, as indeed they would have to be for you to edit the document.

There are some serious limitations to using tables, however, that would lead to the conclusion that you are better off using other options like Frames for most of your page layout needs. These include:

  • You cannot flow text around objects using tables the way you can using Frames.
  • You cannot link table cells together the way you can link Frames to have text flow from place to another seamlessly.
  • In tables, the largest element determines the size of the row or column.  This may may lead to more white-space than you really want on the page.

So for all of these reasons I recommend learning how to use Frame styles.

Columns

This is actually a feature you find within Page styles or Frame Styles, but it deserves a look of its own. Any Page or Frame can be divided into columns with the appropriate style. Columns let you start entering text in the left column, and have that text flow continuously into the right column. It is the way you see text in magazines and newspapers. If you want an entire document to be in columns, you should create a Page style with the appropriate columns. For example, if you wanted to do a Tri-fold brochure, set a Page style for Landscape orientation, set it for three equally-spaced columns, and start writing the brochure. But if you only want one page to be in columns, you are better off using a Frame on that page that is divided into Columns. The reason is that LibreOffice Writer will apply the page style to the whole document. Or you can make use of the Page style in conjunction with the last technique, Sections.

Sections

Sections allow you to set-off certain parts of your document to use different formatting than the other parts. As we just saw, one use of this could be to use columns for a few pages in a document that otherwise did not use columns. But it has broader applicability than just that. You can have a section that uses different margins, for instance, or that adds Headers or Footers not found in the rest of the document. or even adds a background graphic or color not found in the rest of the document.

To create a section, go to Insert–>Section, and you get a Properties window as follows:

Properties for inserting a Section

Properties for inserting a Section

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, you can give a name to a section. If you have a large document and want to keep track of what you are doing, it is a good idea to put names on your Sections, Frames, and other sub-divisions so that you can find them later when you need to. You can set up your section to use columns, to have special indents, add a background, in short, you can tweak pretty much all of the page properties, but do it just for this section without affecting the rest of your document. Normally any change to the Page style would change it for the entire document. Another interesting feature is linking which lets you embed another document in the current document. And if the other document has a section and you only want to embed that section, you can do it as well, but note that the other document already needs to have the section defined.

If you don’t put useful names on your sections they get named Section 1, Section 2, and so on. But what if you want to find your sections in the document? This is where Navigator comes in handy.  Go to View–>Navigator to open the Navigator window, scroll down to sections, and double-click on the section name to put your insertion mark at the beginning of the section.