LibreOffice Impress: Styles and Objects 1. Presentation Styles

We have previously looked at Styles for Writer, and for Calc, and now it is time to look at them for Impress. You may recall from both Writer and Calc that we saw it is important to know that Styles live inside of Templates. So any time you change a Style you needed to make sure it was saved inside of a Template, and if you wanted it to be generally available in all documents or spreadsheets you needed to be sure to make the change inside the Default Template.

Some of this is the same in Impress, but you have an added wrinkle here with the Master Pages. So how are Styles stored in Impress?

  • If you modify a Style in a presentation, it stays in the presentation, but not anywhere else. If you then create a new presentation, your modifications will not be there.
  • If you Edit a Master Page, and modify a Style there, and save it, the modification remains in that Master Page and will show up in a presentation based on that Master Page from now on.
  • If you want one or more slides in a presentation to have different styles from the rest, you need to create Master Pages for the different styles and apply them to those particular slides. Remember that a presentation can use more than one Master Page.

Impress has two kinds of Styles, Drawing Object styles and Presentation styles. Because Impress is fundamentally a graphical program, at least in part, this makes sense.  So a discussion of Styles needs to address both of them.

The Styles and Formatting window we are used to is here in Impress, but remember that in Impress it lives on the right-hand side when docked, and not the left-hand side. But the appearance is still standard:

Impress Styles and Formatting window

Impress Styles and Formatting window








On the left the first icon is for the Drawing Object styles, and the second is for the Presentation styles. But when you look at the options for Drawing Objects you see what looks like Text styles there. Why is that? The answer is that they apply to different objects. Impress uses the Object model heavily, which we will get into. Note that Presentations styles control the text entered into AutoLayout text boxes, slide master backgrounds, and background objects. And Drawing Object styles control test entered into a text box or a graphic object.

AutoLayout text boxes are the ones that come already added to the various slide types when you add a slide. There is usually slide title box on top of the slide, and generally a box for bullet points underneath the slide. Since these are used most often, the Presentation styles are used most often in your slides.

However, you can also create a Text box using the two text tools on the Drawing toolbar. The Horizontal text tool looks like a capital T, and the Vertical text tool looks like a Capital T turned on to its side. If you want to use styles to control the text in these boxes, you need to use the styles located in the Drawing Objects section.

Presentation Styles

The Presentation Styles are fairly equivalent to the Paragraph styles in Writer. And the Outline styles are linked, so a change in Outline 1 will cascade through the other linked styles. Also, there are limitations to what you can do with Styles in Impress. They are not quite the same as in Writer, where you can create styles to your heart’s content all day long. In Impress, the Styles are fixed; you cannot add a Style to what is there. If you right-click in the Styles and Formatting window, the pop-up you get only has two selections: Modify, and Hide. So you have a Title style, a Subtitle style, a Background objects style, a Background style, a Notes style, and a set of linked Outline styles. You cannot add to the list in any way. What you can do is to make each style fit your needs. And by creating different Master Pages (i.e. Templates) you can have styles that are customized to each use. For example, if you have a darker-colored background you will probably want to use a font that is lighter colored, and with a light-colored background a font that is darker colored.

So, how to Modify a Style? Right-click on the Style in the Styles and Formatting window and select Modify. You will get this window, which should look fairly familiar since it is similar to the Style windows we have seen for Writer and Calc.

Presentation Style Properties Window

Presentation Style Properties Window








This has 14 tabs, so there is a lot you can customize here. What may be a little confusing at first is that these tabs do not only let you format the usual text things, they also seem to address certain graphics options. But that is the nature of Impress. It is inherently a medium that encompasses both text and graphics.


  • Text – This applies to how text is displayed in text objects. You can set the space (i.e. margin) between the text and the border, where it is located within the box, and so on.
  • Bullets – this is the same as in Writer and lets you select the type of bullets you want to use for bullet lists. This is something that you should look at in the Outline styles since that is where bullet lists are controlled.
  • Numbering Type – Again, similar to what you have in Writer, and lets you select the type of numbering and how they are formatted.
  • Image – This is for bullets, and lets you use images instead of font characters for your bullet lists. In Writer this was a little harder to get to, but here it is easy.
  • Customize – This is for the Outline styles, and lets you control them as a linked group, setting the amount of indent at each level, etc.
  • Alignment – Pretty standard Text alignment options of Left, Right, Centered, Justified, and so on.
  • Tabs – This is the standard options for setting tabs and works just like in Writer.
  • Line – This is a Graphics option. It lets you select whether a line will be continuous solid line, a dashed line, a dotted line, and so on. It also lets you select color. Other options are greyed-out here, like Arrow styles, since those apply to purely graphical objects.
  • Area – The same as what we saw with Presentation styles, this lets you specify how you will fill an area, using a solid color, a gradient, hatching, or a bitmapped image. Each of these when selected opens up more controls. So if you select Color you get a color picker, Gradient gives you a number of options to select from, and so on. The limitation here is that you must select from the available options Impress has provided. If that is not good enough, you probably need to use a manual option instead of a style. Remember that you can add manual elements to a Master Page and have them automatically applied to your presentation.
  • Shadow – This lets you add a shadow, which for a Presentation style mostly means adding one to a line or a Background object. you can select the position of the shadow, the amount of offset, color, and transparency.
  • Transparency – Lets you add transparency to an area. You can control the amount of transparency (as a percentage), use a gradient, and for gradients you have further controls to make it linear, radial, ellipsoid, and more.
  • Font – The standard font options you are used to in Writer. you can choose the font family, the style (i.e. Bold,Italic, etc.), and the size
  • Font Effects – Just like in Writer, but this is where you choose the Font color. In Impress, this becomes a big deal, whereas in Writer it is normally nothing you would be concerned about.
  • Indents & Spacing – The same as in Writer. This is probably something you won’t need to use much in Impress, however, since most of this applies to Paragraph options, and who writes paragraphs in Impress?

A note about using Styles

In Writer, the use of Styles is something that we urged from the very beginning, because it is the key to using that program effectively, particularly in long documents. But in Impress the situation is somewhat different.  In the LibreOffice Impress Documentation they state:

Unlike LibreOffice Writer, where it is recommended to use styles whenever possible, in Impress manual formatting has to be used more often. This is because presentation styles are fixed in Impress. Therefore, it is not possible, for example, to have two different level 1s or different types of bullet points for the same outline level. Also, the lack of support for character styles forces the use of manual formatting to modify sections of the text.

One way to think about this is that Writer is a very mature product, and Impress somewhat less mature. It may be that over time some of these limitations can be removed. But it does mean that we need to spend some time on learning the manual formatting options, which we will. But I want to make sure you understand Styles and how to store them in a Master Page first.

So, next we will look at Drawing Object styles!

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