8.2. OpenOffice.org Writer

A word processor is like a text editor but has several additional features that allow you to format, design, and print your documents without the need to memorize complex formatting tags or codes. OpenOffice.org Writer is a powerful word processor that features WYSIWYG formatting - what you see in the OpenOffice.org Writer window is what you get if you print or share the document.

8.2.1. Overview of OpenOffice.org Writer

Writing documents using OpenOffice.org is similar to other word processing applications you may have used before. To start OpenOffice.org Writer, you can either start it from the Applications by selecting Applications => Office => OpenOffice.org Writer, or start it from a shell prompt by entering oowriter.

When OpenOffice.org Writer opens, you are presented with a blank document. The margins of the document are represented by the gray box drawn on the main screen. You can start entering text immediately.


You may notice as you type that OpenOffice.org Writer fills in the rest of a word you are typing. OpenOffice.org Writer guesses the word you are typing based on longer words used earlier in the document. This auto-complete text is highlighted. To accept the suggested word ending, press the [Enter] key. If, however, this is not the word you wish to type, keep tying as normal. To turn off this feature, go to Tools => Autocorrect / AutoFormat. This opens a dialog box. Click the Word Completion tab and un-check the Enable Word Completion box.

To create a new file in OpenOffice.org Writer

  1. Go to File => New => Text Document or click on the New document icon in the upper left. (The small arrow in the upper right of the icon allows you to select the type of document to create.)

  2. Begin entering text.

To open an existing file:

  1. Go to File => Open, click on the folder icon, or press [Ctrl]-[O].

  2. A file browser window opens.

  3. Use the navigation icons in the upper right or click through the folders in the window pane to find the file you wish to open.

  4. Either double-click on the file or click once to highlight it and then click on the Open button to open the file.

To save a file:

  1. Click on the floppy disk icon, go to File => Save, or go to File => Save As.

  2. A window opens that shows your file system. If you have already saved this file before, you will not have to do anything else.

  3. Navigate to the location where you would like to save your file.

  4. Enter a name for your file in the File name field.

  5. Select the format for your file from the File type drop down menu.

  6. Click on the Save button.


To save a document in a format other than OpenOffice.org Writer's native format (.sxw), you must select the file type from the File type drop down list. If you also check the Automatic file name extension box, OpenOffice.org Writer will automatically add the correct extension (such as .doc or .txt) to the end of your file name. If you do not choose a file type from the drop down list, OpenOffice.org Writer will save in it's native format, even if you type in the extension you would like for your file.

To save your document as a .pdf file, go to File => Export as pdf. While OpenOffice.org Writer can save as a .pdf, it cannot read or edit them. To view a .pdf file, see FIXME.

To print a document:

  1. Click on the printer icon or go to File => Print or press [Ctrl]-[P]

  2. A window opens with print configuration options.

  3. Select the options you would like.

  4. Click on the OK button.

To preview a file before printing:

  1. Go to File => Page Preview.

  2. A new window opens, displaying your file.

  3. Examine your document: zoom in and out with the magnifying glass icons or scroll through the pages with the page icons near the upper left.

  4. You may print from this screen the same way as from the main screen.

  5. When you are finished examining your document, click the Close Preview button to return to the main screen.

To change text formatting:

  1. Highlight the text you would like to format.

  2. Either apply a style to the text with the Stylist (refer to FIXME) or

  3. Choose formatting options from the toolbar, such as bold, alignment, line spacing, font color, etc.

To add lists to your text:

  1. Either highlight existing text you would like to make into a list or move your cursor to the blank line where you would like to start the list.

  2. Click either the Numbering icon or the Bullets icon.

  3. For existing text, your list will automatically be created and formatted. For new text, enter each list item and press [Enter].

  4. To exit the list, press [Enter] twice.

To format a page:

  1. Go to Format => Page.

  2. A window opens with several tabs of page options. The Page tab allows you to change your margins.

  3. Select the formatting options you would like to change for your page.

  4. Click on the OK button to apply the changes.

To undo changes:

  1. Click on the Undo icon, go to Edit => Undo, or press [Ctrl]-[Z].

  2. If you click on the blue arrow at the top right of the Undo icon, a list of the previous actions apprears. Choosing one of these items undoes all actions back to that point.