LibreOffice Writer Overview of Page Layout Options

LibreOffice Writer is more than just a simple word processor. It is capable of doing complex page layouts, and knowing how this works is important.  A one page memo or letter may not need much layout help, but what if you are going to create a newsletter? Will you need multiple columns? Will you need to include pictures or graphical images? Do you want text to flow around the pictures? Do you want text boxes to call out special information, and have other text flow around the boxes? What about shaded or colored backgrounds? As you can see, the advanced page layout features in LibreOffice Writer can be very useful, so let’s take a look at some of them.

The main techniques you need to master are:

  • Page Styles (see more in the Styles section) – Page Styles incorporate many of the features that are known as Page Properties in some other office suites. This includes features like page orientation (Portrait vs. Landscape), margins, headers, footers, text columns, and even backgrounds.
  • Tables – This time-honored technique uses “invisible” tables, i.e., tables where all of the cell boundaries are invisible, and then you place elements in the cells of the table. You can even insert another table into a cell of the first table, then put another table in a cell of the second table, and so on. So you can get fairly complex layouts with this technique if you have the patience to keep fiddling with the table. And by getting rid of the borders no one who sees the printed copy will know how you did it, if you care about that sort of thing.This technique was also used extensively for creating Web pages at one time, but has since been deprecated in favor of using Cascading Style Sheets and associated techniques. One reason for this is that tables imply a functional purpose, and using them for pure layout defeats that. Still, it is a technique to have in your toolkit.
  • Frames (See more in the Styles section) – Frames are used to insert text or graphics on a page and controlling where they appear. You can use frames to wrap text around an object, and even link frames to have text from one page continue several pages further on, as in the magazines where an article is “continued on page 124”. Frames are like “text boxes” only on steroids, and you definitely want to learn their use.
  • Columns – This is used to divide a page into 2 or more columns for the purpose of improving readability. Text can flow from the bottom of one column to the top of the next, and by having more narrow columns it can be easier to read than making each line span the entire width of the page. This is especially handy when working in Landscape mode.
  • Sections – This lets you designate a particular part of your document that will be handled and formatted differently from the default. In your section you can change the margins, indent the text, password protect, write protect, or hide text, and so on.

The important thing to keep in mind is that these techniques are often used together to get the best result. for example, in creating your newsletter you might start with a Page style, add in some columns, and add Frames and Tables to get the result you are looking for.

For now, we will look at each of these to give you a good basic understanding, but please be aware that mastering everything you can do with these techniques requires even more study. But we can give you enough to make you reasonably proficient.

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