LibreOffice Impress: Styles and Objects 2. Drawing Object Styles


In the previous tutorial we looked at Presentation Styles, and I started with them because they were mostly similar to what we already covered in Writer when we looked at Paragraph styles. But Impress is a graphical product, so we need to wrap our heads around a different set of issues here. and that brings us to Drawing Object Styles.

While you could handle your graphical objects manually as needed, and probably most people do start out doing it that way, the idea of using Styles brings an added element of consistency and efficiency. By creating (or modifying) a style to serve your needs, you can achieve a uniform look in your presentations which will make them look much more professional. And by applying a style you get efficiency since applying the style is usually a “one-click” operation, versus the many clicks and windows you might go through to do it manually. A Drawing Object Style groups all of the properties of a given type of object, defines them, and givers them a name. and just as we saw with styles previously, you can make a change to a style definition and every object in your presentation based on that style will automatically update.

Drawing Object Styles are different from Presentation styles in two ways. First, they are mostly concerned with graphics (though not entirely, text boxes created from the Drawing Tool Bar control their text here). And second, you have the option of creating your own styles, which you did not have with Presentation Styles. You can see this when you right-click in the Styles and Formatting window: with the Drawing Object styles tab selected, the pop-up window offers “New” as a possible selection. When you do this, you get a familiar Properties window:

Drawing Objects Styles Properties Window

Drawing Objects Styles Properties Window








This also has 14 tabs, but not exactly the same tabs. The options for bullets and numbered lists have dropped, and new graphical options have been added.


  • Organizer – This should be somewhat familiar from Writer. This is where you give a name to a style, where you can set inheritance if you want to link it to another style, and place it in a category for later use.
  • Line – This lets you set the line properties, such as continuous, dashed, dotted, and so on. It also lets you set a style that has an arrow at one or both ends of the line. It also has Corner and Cap options, and the best way to see what they do is to open the Properties window, create very thick line, and start choosing options. It needs to be thick line because that is where you can actually see the difference. Corner refers to what happens when a line makes a turn creating a corner. It can make the corner Rounded, Mitered (a sharp point), or Beveled (a flat corner). Cap controls the ends of the line, and whether they will be Flat, Round, or Square.
  • 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.
  • Shadowing – Lets you apply a shadow to an object. You can control its location relative to the object being shadowed, its distance, its color, and its 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 – This is the standard tab for Font properties, letting you select the font family, style, and size.
  • Font Effects – Again, pretty standard and the same as Writer. The one thing you will probably do here a lot is select the font color since in a graphical environment that becomes a big deal. You can also add a Relief, Overlining, Underlining, and Strikethrough.
  • Indents and Spacing – This is the standard section you would have in Writer, that lets you set an indent, a first line indent, spacing before or after, and the space between lines.
  • Text – This is all about positioning text within an object like a Text Box. You can set the space between the text and the border (i.e. the margin), and anchor the text relative to the border of the box.
  • Text Animation – This lets you do things that would be hideous in a text document, but can make sense in a presentation. You have several types of animation, and buttons to set the direction of the animation.
    • Blink – Text will blink on the screen
    • Scroll Through – The text will move into the object and then out following the selected direction
    • Scroll Back and Forth – The text will move in the selected direction, but bounce back at the border
    • Scroll in – The text will scroll in following the given direction and will stop in the center
    • Also, you have other settings that control a delay for when the animation starts, whether it repeats, and so on.
  • Dimensioning – This applies to Dimension Lines, which are one of the Styles available. Dimension Lines are lines with arrows on either end, and are used to indicate a dimension measurement, such as on a blueprint, e.g. “This distance from here to here is 43 meters.”
  • Connector – This is a setting for the connector lines used in things like flow charts.
  • 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.

So, that covers all of the Style properties available. What about the Styles themselves?

The first one, Default, creates settings that will be common to all of the other Styles. This makes use of the object property known as inheritance that we have discussed previously when looking at the object model. That is why Default appears as the root of all other Drawing Object Styles. So for example if all text used in Drawing Objects was to use the same font, you would put that in the Default style and all of the styles would then inherit that one setting.

It is also worth noting here that many of these  styles are common to both Impress and Draw, which is to be expected since both are very much graphical, and the LibreOffice team does prefer to re-use objects whenever possible.

From there, we have a number of other styles that we can use. Among these are:

  • Dimension Line – This is a line that displays a dimension length bounded by guides. This would be very handy when you are displaying drawings that include dimensions, such as a floor plan.
  • First Line Indent – This is very similar to what we did for a Paragraph style in Writer. It will indent the first line of a paragraph if you have applied this to a paragraph, but only in a text box. Remember, Drawing Object styles only apply to graphical objects. If you attempt to apply this to normal slide text you won’t get any result at all because normal slide text is governed by Presentation styles.
  • Heading, Heading1, Heading2 – All 3 of these are Heading styles that you can use, but again only for text that is contained in a text box. Slide titles, for instance, are governed by Presentation styles. Because of this, I would call these styles limited in their use, but if you need to add a text box and have a heading for the text inside this would be the way to go.
  • Object with arrow – This is where you need to be using the drawing tools to make sense of this. If you draw any kind of line that is not closed (i.e. not a circle or polygon that has no end) applying this style will give you an arrow head on one end. And the line does not need to be straight; any curve will work just as well. You can control all of your options for this style by going to the Properties window, Line tab, where you will see all of the Arrow options. The arrow head can be at the start or the end of the line, and various shapes are available. Also, the line heaviness and other options can be found here. This can be applied to symbols, but only to lines with end points. For example, create a smiley face and put an arrow head on the mouth.
  • Object with no fill and no line – This, and the next two styles, really apply to closed objects, like shapes and symbols. Each of these has two essential ingredients, a line and a fill. The line is what outlines the shape, such as a circle, polygon, star, and the fill is what fills in that shape. If you remove both of these what do you have left? To all appearances, nothing, though you can still find the object if you tab through everything. This is the default style for images and OLE-objects, e.g. Math formula, and can be useful to obscure parts of other objects.
  • Object with shadow – This adds a shadow to the object.
  • Object without fill – This removes any fill from the inside, and only leaves the line. Note that the line part can include more than just an outline, you can have symbols (e.g. the smiley face) that have lines inside the circle for the mouth and eyes.
  • Text, text body, text body justified – Again, only applies to text inside of text boxes.
  • Title, Title1, Title2 – These are for titles on drawings, for example, a title block on engineering diagrams. These styles are really more relevant in Draw, where Title Boxes are something you want to use regularly (think engineering diagrams, flow charts, etc.) You see these styles here because the Drawing Object styles are shared between Draw and Impress.

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