Document Structure

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When conceiving an essay or thesis you will invariably have in your mind’s eye not only its contents but also its overall structure.

The contents consist in the main of the actual text. It is the Text Body which makes up the bulk of the document. The Text Body has its own formatting style. We will go into that in section 9.

For now we want to deal with the structure of a document. The main means to make the underlying structure visible for the reader is the use of chapter headings. Your text will have an implicit structure independently of any headings anyway, but it’s the headings which make this structure explicit.

Any text will at least have main chapter headings, that is Level 1. But quite often you might need Level 2 section headings even Level 3 subsection headings. OpenOffice allows for 10 levels.

These various Levels are optically distinguishable one from the other by:

  • font size (height measured in points pt)
  • typeface (regular/bold/italic)
  • font (e.g. Times/Arial/Garamond/Futura etc.)
  • spacing above paragraph
  • spacing below paragraph
  • numbering (optional)
  • breaks (e.g. main chapter headings might all begin on a new page)

It’s best to type in all the headings and sub-headings right from the start and activate their automatic numbering too as described in section 5. That way you have a structure which you can then fill in little by little with text.

Once you have the headings you can then automatically generate a table of contents.

Documentation note.png Note: The decision what is a heading and what it should look like are two separate decisions.

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