Producing Apache OpenOffice User Guides

From Apache OpenOffice Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

This document should be read in conjunction with Introducing ODFAuthors.


This document is for anyone working on the Apache OpenOffice (OOo) user guides, produced through the OOoAuthors website for distribution through the Apache OpenOffice wiki in various forms (ODT, PDF, MediaWiki).

It assumes some familiarity with Writer (the OOo word processor) but not with the specific requirements of working with OOo user guides.

This document should be read in conjunction with Introducing OOoAuthors.

How to set up OOo for working with user guides

When working on OOo user guides, you may need to change a few option settings. You also need to download and install some files, and you may wish to create some AutoText entries.

Change View options

The setting for one View option (Icon size and style) is important for consistency when capturing screens to illustrate our documents; another setting is a matter of personal preference.

Go to Tools > Options > > View and make sure the choices for Icon size and style in the User Interface section near the top are Small, Galaxy (default).

If you have been using OOo for some time, you know that the method of marking a text or graphics selection changed from reversed color (typically white text on a black background) to a pale background. Some people like the new display but if you prefer reversed color, deselect the Transparency option under Selection.

Choosing View options for working with OOo user guides.

Change Memory options

User guide chapters often contain a lot of images, and a full book may have several hundred. When you open one of these documents in, it may take several minutes to fully load and display all the images. Later you may discover that images seem to disappear from the document. In fact, the images are still in the file even if you cannot see them on screen or in a PDF created from the file.

This problem can be cured by changing the default memory settings for, to make more memory available to OOo, to increase the time that objects remain in memory, and to increase the number of cached objects. To offset the extra memory needed for large numbers of objects, you can usually decrease the memory for each object (images in our documents are typically less than 1 MB) and decrease the number of Undo steps.

Documentation note.png Be aware that choices made for memory allocated to can affect the performance of other programs, but most modern computers have enough memory that this is unlikely to be a problem. Also, the best settings for working with our user guides may not be the best settings for other documents that you work on, if those other documents contain larger objects.

To change memory settings, go to Tools > Options > > Memory. Here are some suggested settings for working with OOo user guide files:

  • Undo
    • Number of steps: 20
  • Graphics cache
    • Use for 256 MB
    • Memory per object: 1.0 MB
    • Remove from memory after: 1:00 hh:mm
  • Cache for inserted objects
    • Number of objects: 350
Choosing Memory options for working with OOo user guide files

Download and install chapter template

The template we use when writing chapters of the user guides is located here:

  1. Download the template and save it anywhere on your computer.
  2. Documentation caution.png If your browser gives you a choice of Open with or Save File, choose Save File. Otherwise, the template opens as an untitled ODT (text) file; if you then save this file, it is saved as an ODT file, not as an OTT (text template) file.
  3. Now import the template into an OOo template folder:
    1. Choose File > Templates > Organize from the menu bar.
    2. In the Template Management dialog, select the folder into which you want to import the template. Usually this is My Templates but you may wish to create a separate folder for OOo User Guides.
    3. Click the Commands button and choose Import Template from the drop-down menu. A standard file browser window opens.
    4. Find and select the template that you just downloaded and click Open. The file browser window closes and the template appears in the selected folder.
Documentation note.png At step 1, you can save the template directly into the template folder and skip the rest of the steps. To find the location of the template folder on your computer, go to Tools > Options > > Paths and look in the Paths used by box on the right; the folder listed there usually has several sub-folders.

Download and install Template Changer extension

Using the Template Changer extension can make some work much easier, so we recommend you install it while setting up OOo to work on the user guides.

Using Template Changer, you can assign a new template to the current document or to a folder of documents. All styles and formatting will be loaded from that template and the document will behave as it was created using that template.

  1. Download the extension from here: and save it anywhere on your computer.
  2. Choose Tools > Extension Manager and click the Add button. A standard file browser opens.
  3. Find and select the extension you just downloaded and click Open.
  4. You will be asked to accept a license agreement.
  5. When the installation is complete, the extension is listed in the Extension Manager.
  6. Close the Extension Manager.
  7. To activate the Template Changer, close and reopen it. You will now find two new items in the File > Templates menu: Assign template (Current document) and Assign template (folder).

Create AutoText entries for Tip, Note, Caution, and data tables

Tips, Notes, and Cautions use tables for layout. In addition, we sometimes include tables of data.

The chapter template provides examples of Tip, Note, Caution, and data tables. You can copy and paste these tables as needed, but you may find it easier to insert them using AutoText. With AutoText, once you have set up the entries, you just have to type the shortcut (for example, tip or note) and press F3 to insert one. In each case, the formatting of the table is preserved: column widths, text, and any graphics. You can then add or change anything you want in the table.

Here is how to set up an AutoText entry for a Note:

  1. Open the chapter template in OOo. Go to the last page, where you will find samples of a tip, a note, and a caution. (A sample data table is on page 13 of the template.)
  2. Select the entire Note table.
  3. Press Ctrl+F3, or choose Edit > AutoText from the menu bar, to open the AutoText dialog box.
  4. In the Category box, select My AutoText. Type Note in the Name box. OOo suggests N as the Shortcut; you may wish to change this, for example to Note.
  5. Click the AutoText button on the right and choose New. The Note table is saved as AutoText.
  6. Click Close to close the AutoText dialog box and return to the document.

Repeat for a Tip, a Caution, and a table of data.

How to create a new chapter from the template

To create a new document from the chapter template:

  1. Do one of the following to open the Templates and Documents dialog box:
    • From the Start Center, choose Templates...
    • From the menu bar, choose File > New > Templates and Documents.
    Documentation note.png If a document is already open, you can also open this dialog box from the New icon on the Standard toolbar. In Windows, you can also use the Quickstarter in the System Tray; choose Templates and Documents.
    Creating a new document from the OOo chapter template.
  2. In the box on the left of the Templates and Documents dialog box, click the Templates icon if it is not already selected. A list of template folders appears in the center box.
  3. Double-click the folder that contains the OOo3_chapter_template. (In our example, this is in the My Templates folder.) A list of all the templates contained in that folder appears in the center box.
  4. Select the OOo3_chapter_template.
  5. Click Open. The Templates and Documents dialog box closes and a new document based on the OOo3_chapter_template opens in Writer.

The new document includes all the text and graphics contained in the template. Much of this material must be modified or deleted, as follows:

  1. On the title page:
    • Change [Component] to the name of book this chapter will be in, for example Base, Calc, Writer. If you are using the template for some other document (such as a HowTo or Tutorial) that is not part of a user guide, delete the words [Component Guide] but leave the paragraph marker so the rest of the text on the page is spaced out correctly.
    • Change n to the chapter number. Make sure the chapter number retains the character style of OOoChapterNumber. The best way to do this is to highlight the n and type the number to replace the n.
    • Change Type Chapter Name Here to the name of the new chapter. Make sure this line retains the two blank spaces before the first word. These blank spaces are required for correct spacing of text in the footer of the compiled book file.
  2. Choose File > Properties and go to the Description page. In the Title field, replace OOo3_chapter_template with the name of the chapter that you put on the title page. Delete the Revision information in the Comments box. Click OK.
  3. On the Copyright page:
    • For a new chapter, change 2005-2010 to the current year only.
    • Add your name in the Authors section.
    • Add anything you wish to the Acknowledgments section.
    • In the Publication date and software version section, replace [N.n] with the version of OOo used for this chapter.
    • Other changes to the page will be made later.
  4. We recommend you read the document before beginning to write; it explains what styles to use for what purpose. You may wish to retain some or all of the contents for reference while you are writing and delete them only when ready to upload the chapter for review.
  5. If you have not made AutoText from the Tip, Note, Caution, and data tables, now is a good time to do that. Otherwise, you may wish to keep those examples in the file so you can copy them as needed.

Before you continue, save the file using the naming convention for draft documents.

Just before uploading a chapter for review, do these things:

  1. Update the table of contents: hover the mouse cursor over the TOC, right-click, and choose Update Index/Table from the context menu.
  2. On the Copyright page, in the Publication date and software version section, replace [date] with the current date.

Naming convention for draft documents

Why have a naming convention?

To keep track of who is writing and reviewing documents, and when files were last changed, we have adopted a naming convention that includes all the necessary information in an unambiguous manner.

(Plone's system can be ambiguous for uploaded files such as ODT, because it records who did what on the website, not the file itself. For example, it may record Jean as creating a file on a particular date, but Jean may have been uploading a file written or edited by someone else some time earlier. And once you download a file to your computer, you lose even the Plone information.)


  • First the base file name. For drafts, any meaningful basename is fine. Do not include spaces or punctuation (other than hyphens or underscores) in the file name.
  • Then your initials as writer.
  • When you review a document written by someone else and submit a revised version, add your initials.
  • Then the date the file was last edited, using the "20100925" format (year, month, day).
  • Separate each part of the name by underscores.


Suppose Daniel Carrera writes a chapter called "Introduction to Styles".

  1. Daniel initially names the file IntroStyles_DC_20100104.odt
  2. Jean Weber reviews the file and puts her edited version in the Feedback folder with the name IntroStyles_DC_JHW_20100120.odt (notice the change of date).
  3. Daniel revises the file and uploads the revised file as IntroStyles_DC_20090116.odt

How to update the chapter template from the website

When the chapter template is updated, a note will be sent to the Authors mailing list. It is a good idea to get a copy of the revised template to replace the one on your computer.

If you have been away for awhile or don't check the Authors list very often, you may wish to check whether you have the latest version of the template and update it on your computer.

[more to be written]

How to update a chapter from a changed template

After you have the updated template correctly installed on your computer, the next time you open a document that was created from the template, the following message appears.

Update styles message.

Click Yes to apply the template's changed styles to the document. Click No if you do not want to apply the template's changed styles to the document. Whichever option you choose, the message box closes and the document opens in OOo.

Documentation caution.png If you choose No in the message box shown above, that message will not appear again the next time you open the document after changing the template it is based on. You will not get another chance to update the styles from the template, but you can use the Template Changer extension to reactivate the connection to the template.

Reactivating a template using the Template Changer extension

  1. Be sure the Template Changer extension is installed on your computer. See this section for instructions.
  2. In Writer, open a document that you want to connect to the updated template.
  3. Choose File > Templates > Assign template (current document) from the menu bar.
  4. In the Select Template dialog box, choose the template The dialog box should open to the correct template folder; but if it does not, you can browse to the correct folder.
  5. Click Open. The template is attached to the document. You may not see any change in the document itself.
  6. Save the document.

How to create images for OOo user guides

Images may be screen captures, photographs, or graphics (such as diagrams) created in Draw or another program.

This section describes how to create images that show what the reader needs to know, can be read easily on screen and when printed in black-and-white (good contrast), do not use unnecessarily large amounts of ink or toner when printed, and are unchanged when exported to a variety of file formats.

Screen captures

We on the Documentation team use a variety of operating systems and desktop themes (colour schemes), but we want the images in our user guides to look reasonably consistent. Here are some suggestions for creating consistency.

  • Use a neutral (primarily grey or similar) theme with high contrast. Please do not use bright or operating-system specific colours such as blue, purple, or green.
  • Use the Galaxy icon set (in Tools > Options > > View), not Automatic (which can vary with your operating system). On the same page, set Icon size to Small.
  • Capture only the required dialog box or other area, or crop the image after capturing it. If you include the mouse pointer, be sure it is pointing to a relevant item, not randomly positioned.
  • Read the text carefully to ensure you set up any data that should be shown and have marked any selections (such as checkboxes or radio buttons) that are discussed. If the image is supposed to show the dialog box before you make changes, be sure it does not show the results instead. Here are some examples of images that do not match the text and need to be redone.
  • We rarely need to capture the full OOo window, except for the introductory chapters where the parts of the window are labelled and described. When a full window is required, reduce its size as much as possible (while retaining essential information) and then capture the image. In some cases (such as the dialog box for customising a Table of Contents), the optional Preview section can be deselected.


Some screen captures can be used without further modification. Many, however, benefit from cropping (cutting off parts of the original image). There are two reasons for cropping: to fit an image on the page and still have the relevant parts readable, and to reduce wasted space and focus the readers' attention on a particular portion of the screen.

Some screen capture programs have a feature for choosing an area when you do the capture. You can also crop the images in a graphics package. Do not crop them in OOo itself, because that cropping is not retained when the file is exported to MediaWiki, HTML, and possibly other formats (only PDF retains the cropping).

Here are some suggestions for choosing what to crop:

  • Focus the readers' attention on the part being discussed, especially when the full dialog box has already been shown and the text is referring to one particular part of it. Here is an example.
  • Remove blank space in dialog boxes that are of standard size but use only a small portion of the area for data or selections. In most cases, cutting off the bottom portion (with the standard OK, Cancel, and Next buttons) does not reduce readers' comprehension, especially when the full dialog box has already been shown.
  • Make a wide dialog box (such as the Tools > Options one) fit on a page by cropping the portion that isn't essential to the discussion, for example the navigation tree on the left.

Annotation (labelling)

Use Draw or a graphics package to label screen captures, group and save the result as a single images so the labels are part of the image. Do not use Writer's drawing tools to label an image, because the labels will be lost or become disconnected from the screen capture when a file is exported to MediaWiki, HTML, or other formats.

To assist translators, label images without text (such as toolbars) using numbers, not words. Screen captures with text (such as dialog boxes) need to be recaptured by the translators anyway, so you can label them with text.

When creating labels:

  • Use a line weight and font size and weight that will be compatible with the surrounding text when the image is at its final size in the document (images may be reduced in size when in the document).
  • Use a white background for the area surrounding an image, when labels are outside the image. You can use a light color for the background of labels placed inside an image (to help them be noticeable), but choose a color that will print as pale grey in black-and-white.
  • Ensure all numbers or words in the labels are lined up neatly.
  • When labelling dialog boxes, it's usually best to put the labels above or below the image, not to the sides, to help fit the image on the Writer page. With small images, labels beside the image may work well or better; this is a matter of judgment.

Flowcharts and other diagrams

Do not use Writer's drawing tools to create flowcharts and other diagrams for use in published documents. These tools are fine for creating draft diagrams that will be replaced after review and editing, but they do not export well to some formats.

For diagrams to be published, use Draw or another program of your choice, and then export the diagram to PNG before including it in the Writer document. In addition, save the original as an editable file such as .ODG and upload it to the OOoAuthors website along with the chapter .ODT file.

When diagrams contain text, use a line weight and font size and weight that will be compatible with the surrounding text when the image appears in the document.

If a diagram needs color to improve its usefulness, choose colors that provide good contrast when printed in black-and-white (grayscale). Consider using hatching patterns. Be sure any text has good contrast with its background when printed in grayscale.

How to insert images into ODT files

To prevent images from moving around during editing (especially when you are adding or deleting text), please follow the procedure below.

Documentation note.png These instructions apply mainly to screenshots and other images that are large enough to put between paragraphs of text.
  1. (optional) Have paragraph marks turned on (helps you to see what's happening).
  2. Press Enter at the end of a paragraph to create a new blank paragraph. It will probably have the style OOoTextBody.
  3. Change the paragraph's style to OOoFigure. The paragraph marker should now be centered on the page.
  4. Choose Insert > Picture > From File to insert the image, OR use drag and drop to insert the image.
  5. When the image comes in, it is selected. Immediately right-click on it and choose Anchor > As Character.
  6. With the image still selected, right-click again and choose Caption. Select Figure as the Category (if it shows anything else in that box) and type the caption. If Figure is not one of the choices, type the word Figure to create that category.
  7. Documentation note.png Not all images need Figure numbers and captions.
  8. Click anywhere outside the frame to deselect it, then click in the caption line and change the paragraph style to OOoFigureCaption.

How to cross-reference within a document

Do not type in cross-references to other parts of the document, because those references can easily get out of date if you reword a heading, add or remove figures, or reorganize topics. Instead, use Writer's automatic cross-references; when you update fields, all the references will update automatically to show the current wording or page numbers.

We do not follow the practice that every figure and table must have a numbered caption and must be cross-referenced in the text. This is for practical reasons: x-refs have a tendency to randomly go goofy when chapters are combined into a book. (We believe the problem is related to the convoluted history of many of our chapters, not a bug in OOo.)

When not to cross-reference to a figure: any time that does not cause usability problems for the reader. For example, when the figure immediately follows the paragraph in which it is discussed and it is obvious which figure is being discussed, no cross-reference is needed.

Cross-referencing to figures, tables, headings, other items

The Cross-references tab of the Fields dialog box lists some items, such as headings, numbered paragraphs, and bookmarks. If figure captions, table captions, user-defined number range variables, and some other items have been defined in a document, they also appear in the Type list.

The Cross-references tab of the Fields dialog box

To insert a cross-reference to a heading, figure, or other item shown on the Cross-references tab:

  1. In your document, place the cursor where you want the cross-reference to appear.
  2. If the Fields dialog box is not open, click Insert > Cross Reference. On the Cross-references tab, in the Type list, click the type of item you are referencing (for example, Heading or Figure).
  3. Click on the required item in the Selection list, which shows both automatically created entries (for example Headings) as well as user-defined references (for example bookmarks).
  4. In the Insert reference to list, choose the type of reference required. The choices vary with the item being referenced.
    • For headings, usually you will choose Reference (to insert the full text of the heading) or Page (to insert the number of the page the heading is on).
    • For figures, you will usually choose Category and Number (to insert the word “Figure” and its number), Page (to insert the number of the page the figure is on), or Numbering (to insert only the figure number). We do not normally use Reference (to insert the word “Figure” with its number and the full text of the caption), Above/Below or the other choices.
  5. Click Insert.

You can leave this dialog box open while you insert many cross-references.

Cross-referencing to bookmarks

Occasionally you might want to insert a cross-reference to something that is not automatically shown on the Cross-references page. Before you can do that, you must prepare the item as a target to be referenced. We generally use bookmarks for this purpose.

  1. Select the text you want to bookmark. Click Insert > Bookmark.
  2. On the Insert Bookmark dialog box, the larger box lists any previously defined bookmarks. Type a name for this bookmark in the top box. Click OK.
Inserting a bookmark.

Now you can cross-reference to the bookmark as described in Cross-referencing to figures, tables, headings, other items.

How to cross-reference to another document

Writer provides methods for automatic cross-referencing to other documents (usually chapters in the same or different books), but we do not use them at this time. Instead, follow the instructions below.

  • When refering to a chapter in the same book, use Chapter N (Chapter Title). Do not use italics for the chapter title.
  • When refering to a chapter in another book, use Chapter N (Chapter Title) in the [Component] Guide. Here the book title is in italics.

In both cases, do not refer to a section in the referenced chapter, because section names are more likely to change.

How to index a user guide chapter

An alphabetical index (referred to as an index) is a list of keywords or phrases used throughout a document that, if listed in order, may help the reader find information quickly. Generally an index is found in the back of book or document and lists several keywords or phrases in alphabetical order with page numbers.

We use the tools built into Writer to embed index entries into the chapter ODT files. Writer's tools are fairly easy (though tedious) to use. The difficult part, of course, is deciding what terms to include. Here is a checklist of things to consider when creating, reviewing, or editing an index.

Adding index entries

To create (embed) some index entries in a chapter, follow these instructions:

  1. Either highlight the word or phrase to add to the index or place the cursor at the beginning of the word or phrase. (If you want to add multiple words as one entry it will generally be better to highlight the entire phrase.)
  2. Click Insert > Indexes and Tables > Entry to display a dialog box similar to that shown below. You can accept the word or phrase shown in the Entry box or change it to whatever you want. If you placed the cursor at the beginning of a word, clicking on the Entry text box inserts the word into the text box. See below for an explanation of the fields on this dialog box.
  3. Documentation note.png We do NOT use initial capital letters on all index entries, as some publishers do.
  4. Click Insert to create the entry.
  5. When you are satisfied with the entries, click Close.
Inserting an index entry.

You can create multiple entries without closing the dialog box. For each one:

  1. Click at the location in the document that you want to index.
  2. Click again on the dialog box.
  3. Change the entry if needed, and click Insert.
  4. Repeat steps 1–3 until you have finished with the entries, then click Close.
Documentation note.png If field shading is active, see Tools > Options > > Appearance > Text Document > Field shadings, when a selected word or phrase has been added to the index, it is shown in the text with a gray background. Index entries whose text is different from the text in the document are marked by a small gray rectangle.

Here is a brief explanation of the fields in the Insert Index Entry dialog box and how to use them.

  • Index – The type of index this entry is for. We use Alphabetical Index.
  • Entry – The word or phrase to be added to the selected index. This word or phrase does not need to be in the document itself; you can add synonyms and other terms that you want to appear in the index.
  • 1st key – An index key is an index entry that has no associated page number and has several subentries that do have page numbers. Keys are useful ways of grouping related topics. See below for an example of using an index key.
  • 2nd Key – You can have a three-level index, where some of the first-level keys have level-2 entries that are also keys (without page numbers). Avoid this level; it is not often necessary in our documents.
  • Main entry – When the same term is indexed on several pages, often one of those pages has more important or detailed information on that topic, so it is the main entry. To make the page number for the main, or most important, entry stand out, select this checkbox and then define the character style for the page number of a main index entry to be bold, for example.
  • Apply to all similar texts – Select this option if you want Writer to automatically identify and mark any other word or phrase that matches the current selection. The Match case and Whole words only checkboxes become available if this checkbox is selected. In most cases we avoid using this option because it results in unnecessary index entries that then need to be deleted.

Example of using an index key

An index key is a primary entry under which subentries are grouped. For example, you might want to create a grouping similar to this:
    Writer,  5
    Calc,  10
    Impress,  15

In this example, is the 1st key. The subentries (with the page numbers showing) are the indexed entries. To insert an index entry for the topic Writer, on the Insert Index Entry dialog box, type Writer in the Entry box and in the 1st key box.

Generating a chapter index

We don't publish indexes in chapters, but you should generate an index to check your entries to see if any need editing. This is particularly important if you are updating a chapter that includes existing index entries as well as any new ones you may have added. When a chapter is revised, the existing index entries may become out of date or simply wrong (for example, if a section was copied from another guide, it may contain index entries for a different component of OOo).

  1. Go to the end of the file, click in the last (blank) paragraph, and choose Insert > Indexes and Tables > Indexes and Tables from the menu bar.
  2. In the Type box on the Index/Table tab, select Alphabetical Index.
  3. In the Options section, uncheck Case sensitive (so that capitalized and lower-case words are treated as the same word) and uncheck Combine identical entries with p or pp.
  4. Because we are not publishing this index, it does not matter what it looks like, but you may wish to go to the Columns tab and choose 2.
  5. Click OK to generate the index.
  6. Look at the index and decide what's missing or needs to be changed. Delete, insert, or amend entries as needed in the chapter itself. (Never edit an index directly.)
  7. Writer does not update an index automatically. If you add, delete, or change the text of index entries, you need to update the index. To do this, right-click anywhere in the index and choose Update Index/Table from the pop-up menu. (You can also update the index from the Navigator by right-clicking on Indexes > Table of Contents1 and choosing Index > Update from the pop-up menu.) You may need to go through several iterations before you are done.
  8. When you are done, delete the compiled index from the end of the chapter.

Viewing and editing index entries

To view and edit index entries, use the following steps:

  1. Ensure that field shading is active (Tools > Options >> Appearance > Text Document > Field shadings), so you can locate index entries more easily.
  2. Place the cursor immediately to the left of an existing index entry in the body of your document and select Edit > Index Entry. Alternatively, right-click on the word or phrase and from the context menu select Index Entry.
  3. A dialog box similar to the one below appears. You can move through the various index entries using the forward and back arrow buttons. If there is more than one entry for a single word or phrase, then you can scroll through each of the entries.
  4. Make the necessary modifications or additions to the index entries and, when finished, click OK.
Viewing and editing index entries.

Compiling and editing the index for a book

After the book is compiled (using a master document), the resulting index needs to be edited for consistency and completeness and the entries changed as needed in the chapter files before recompiling the book index. Some (usually sub-)entries that make sense in the context of a book don't make as much sense in a stand-alone chapter.

This work is usually the responsibility of the book's editor, who will publish the book when it has been fully compiled, indexed, and checked.

Tips for indexing chapters

Here is a checklist of things to consider when creating, reviewing, or editing an index.

  • The first word of an index entry (especially a level 1 entry) should be meaningful, something the reader is likely to be looking for.
  • In most cases, do not start an entry with a verb such as using or displaying. The reader is more likely to be looking for the thing being used or displayed. (In some cases, for example printing, such words might be appropriate; in most cases, they are not. You will need to use your judgment.)
  • Do not make a main entry (level 1) for the name of the product (the topic of the book) and then put numerous level 2 entries under it. Turn all those level 2 entries into level 1 entries. (Some topics do appropriately go under the name of the product, but they are the exceptions.)
  • Make sure all important topics have a main entry (level 1), not just appearing as level 2 entries. A common problem is for field names to be listed as subentries under the window or dialog name. Readers must then know what command to look up before they can find the parameter entry. This also often leads to long lists of subentries, all on the same page.
  • Don't start entries with how, what, why, where, or similar words.
  • Try to think of concepts and synonyms that readers might be likely to be looking for, and put them in the index as well.
  • If a main entry has subentries under it, change the main entry so that no page numbers print on the higher level.
  • Avoid third level entries, unless there is a very good reason for them.

After indexing a chapter, generate the index and review it.

  • If two or more topics start with the same word or phrase, in most cases they can be turned into level 2 entries under the common word.
  • Check for non-significant differences in capitalisation or plurals that cause separate index entries to appear, rather than one entry with more than one page number. Either make the entries identical, or make the difference explicit in level 2 entries.
  • Check for not enough detail. In most cases, any one index entry should not have more than two page numbers listed for it. If it has three or more page numbers listed, the entry probably should be split into subentries, to help readers find exactly what they are looking for. Sometimes two or more of the pages contain exactly or essentially the same information; in this case, simply remove the entry for one of the pages (usually you would leave the first one in).
  • Check for too much detail. The most common error here is to have a level 1 entry with several level 2 entries, where all the level 2s are on the same page (or on a series of pages, all identical). Usually the solution is to make the level 2s into level 1s and have the original level 1 entry as a main entry as well, but removing the subentries beneath it.
  • If a main entry has only 1 subentry under it, combine the subentry into the main entry.
  • Remove any irrelevant entries.
  • Do some random lookups in the book, to see whether the term or topic is in the index. If several random selections are not in the index, this suggests that a lot more work needs to be done.

When all the chapters are put together into a book, inevitably some changes will be needed to the index entries in individual chapters, so the book index is consistent.

How to review a chapter

  1. Download the chapter from the OOoAuthors website. You will need to have Author privileges and be logged in. If your browser gives you a choice of Open with or Save File, choose Save File.
  2. In OOo, turn on Record changes (Edit > Changes > Record).
  3. To leave a comment, use Insert > Comment.
  4. Add your name to the Authors section of the chapter's copyright page.
  5. Save the file using the naming conventions for draft documents.
  6. When done, upload the reviewed file to the Feedback folder for the relevant book.

Follow the Style Guide and keep Writing OOo Guides in mind.

What to look for in a review

Chapters must be checked carefully against the latest released version of OOo (or the forthcoming version, when writing or updating in preparation for a new release). Please don't just improve the wording or grammar; that's important, but well-worded wrong instructions are worse than poorly worded correct information. If a chapter has been reviewed and you are copyediting it, please include item 3 below in your list of things to look for.

  1. Go through the instructions in the chapter. Follow the instructions exactly as they are written, so you can see if anything is different between the instructions and the software.
  2. Pay close attention to the screenshots. If anything is different, make a note of it. If you can capture new screenshots that will match the ones in the chapter, then you can replace the out of date ones with up to date ones. If you cannot match the existing screenshots, then leave a comment in the file that "figure x needs to be replaced".
  3. Ensure that the text and the illustrations (such as screenshots) agree with each other. For example, sometimes the name of an option is changed in the program, but the writer fails to change the name in the text. See this page for some more examples.
  4. If the chapter is on the wiki, check the Discussion and History pages for the wiki version of the chapter and bring back into the ODT any changes. If you notice a wiki change that is incorrect or needs editing, please change the wiki info or leave a note about the problem.
  5. Please also suggest other topics that should be included in the chapter, or better ways of explaining things, or any other improvements you can think of. These might include adding topics or examples (or creating stand-alone tutorials or how-tos and referring to them from the user guide), revising topics to make them more useful, or reorganising chapters (either moving topics within a chapter or, in some cases, moving material from one chapter to another).

Be aware that in some cases a topic may be covered in another chapter; in that case a cross-reference would be helpful... or in some cases duplicating some information might be the best solution.

How to publish a chapter

Documentation note.png Chapters are normally published by the editor responsible for the relevant book.

When you have decided that a chapter is ready for publishing, do the following:

  1. Make a final pass to check page breaks and make any necessary changes. (Use the keep-with-next attribute, not manual page breaks, and/or change the sequence of text and figures.)
  2. Verify that the first item in the first numbered list in the chapter is explicitly set to start at 1 (this is to make sure the chapter works properly when it is a subdocument in a master document for a compiled book). To do this:
    1. Right-click on the first list paragraph and choose Paragraph.
    2. Go to the Outline & Numbering tab. In the Numbering section, select the checkbox for Restart at this paragraph and select the checkbox for Start with, making sure the number is 1.
    3. Click OK to save the change.
  3. Update the ToC. Make sure there is no (alphabetic) index at the end of the chapter.
  4. On the copyright page, insert the current date and the software version.
  5. Save the ODT file with the correct file name, using the naming convention for published chapters (see below).
  6. Export the file to PDF, using these settings:
    • On the General tab, select JPEG compression, Quality 90%, and Export bookmarks. Leave the other options unselected.
    • On the Initial View tab, in the Page layout section, select Page only, Default magnification, and Default page layout.
  7. Upload both files to the Published Chapters folder for the relevant book and change their state to "externally visible".
  8. Go to the OOo3.3 User Guides page. Edit that page to show the publication date and file size for the chapter.

Naming convention for published chapters

To ensure that chapters and books are listed correctly on the Documentation Project's website, file names take the following form:
AABBCC3-Name, where
AA=book number, BB=chapter number, CC=book initials, 3=OOoVersion 3, Name=Chapter name. For OOo3.3 files, use 33, not 3, for the version. <p>Book number and initials:
01 = GS = Getting Started
02 = WG = Writer Guide
03 = CG = Calc Guide
04 = DG = Draw Guide
05 = IG = Impress Guide
06 = MG = Migration Guide

07 = BG = Database Guide

The chapter or book name is given in full; each word begins with a capital letter and there are no spaces between words.

For example, the third chapter of the Writer Guide for OOo3.3, Working with Text, has the following file name: 0203WG33-WorkingWithText.pdf

How to compile and publish a book using a master document

Documentation note.png A new or updated book is normally published by the editor responsible for that book.

The user guides being produced by OOoAuthors consist of a set of individual chapter files, plus a master document file that combines the chapter files into a book.

The chapter files have been designed so that the copyright page and the chapter's table of contents pages are in a conditional section which is hidden when the chapter is part of a book.

The master document file contains a copyright page listing all the authors of all the chapters in the book and a table of contents for the full book, a TOC for the entire book, and an index for the entire book.

Compiling the book

When you have published several changed chapters in a completed book, you need to regenerate the full book. To do this:

  1. Be sure the *.odt files for the latest version of all chapters are in the Published Chapters folder for the book.
  2. Download all the *.odt (chapter) files and the *.odm (master document) file and place them in a folder on your computer.
  3. If any new names have been added to the Authors section of the copyright page of any chapter, take a note of them.
  4. Open the *.ODM (master doc) file for the book. When asked "Update all links?" click Yes.
  5. Wait while the file loads and paginates; this may take several minutes. To avoid errors, do not do anything with the file until it finishes paginating; do not even scroll through the file.
  6. If any chapter files do not load, you may need to edit the path for those files in the Navigator for the master document. Problem files are shown in red in the Navigator.
  7. When all the files have loaded and the book has finished paginating, regenerate the table of contents and index by right-clicking on each of them and choosing Update from the pop-up menu.
  8. Check that the Authors section of the master document's copyright page includes all the authors for the changed chapters.
  9. Check that the information in File > Properties is correct.
  10. On the copyright page, change the publication date to the current date, change the OOo version information to the version covered by the book, and check that the email address for OOoAuthors and the URL for the published chapters (given in the footer) are correct.
  11. Check that the footers show the correct information: book title on left-hand (even) pages and chapter title on right-hand (odd) pages.
  12. Check that the first item in the first numbered list in each chapter from Chapter 2 on is numbered "1" as it should be; it may continue the numbering from the last list in the preceeding chapter. If necessary, OPEN EACH PROBLEM CHAPTER and explicitly restart at "1" the number of the first list paragraph in the first numbered list in each chapter. To do this:
    1. Right-click on the first list paragraph and choose Paragraph.
    2. Go to the Outline & Numbering tab. In the Numbering section, select the checkbox for Restart at this paragraph and select the checkbox for Start with, making sure the number is 1.
    3. Click OK to save the change.
  13. Check that the copyright pages and TOCs of the individual chapters do NOT appear in the book, and that the [Component} Guide paragraph does not appear on the individual chapters' title pages. Fix in the problem chapter as needed.
    Note: Do not make changes to chapters within a master document, because they are lost when you close the file.
  14. Review the compiled index. If any entries need to be changed, open the relevant chapter and make the changes in the chapter file, not in the index visible in the master document. See also How to index a user guide chapter.
  15. If you have made any changes to the chapters, reload the master document and wait for it to paginate again. Recheck to ensure all is well. Repeat as needed.
  16. A bug in OOo (or a gremlin in some of our older files) causes some figure and table numbers, and some cross-references to figures and tables, to be incorrect in the master doc, even though they are correct in the subdocs. You really need to go through the entire book, checking and fixing any incorrect figure numbers or references. This is a major PITA, so we do not regenerate the books very often. To fix the x-refs, open the subdoc itself, delete the wrong x-refs, and recreate them—even though they appear to be correct in the subdoc. This will usually cure the problem (for that x-ref) in the master document. After editing the subdocs, reload the chapters into the master document.
  17. When all changes have been done, regenerate the TOC and index in the master document. Save the master document.
  18. Create one ODT file from the master doc and its subdocs, as explained in Chapter 13 (Working with Master Documents) in the Writer Guide. Remove the links to the sections, to embed the text into the ODT file. Then either remove the write protection on the sections or remove the sections completely (the contents remain; only the section markers are removed). Name this ODT file according to the naming convention for published documents (see below).
  19. Check the ODT file you just created again to make sure the cross-references, page breaks, list numbering, and other potential problems are fixed.
  20. Select File > Export as PDF. Choose the following settings:
    • On the General tab, select Export bookmarks.
    • On the Initial View tab, in the Page layout section, select Continuous facing.
  21. Name the PDF according to the naming convention for published documents (see below).

Publishing the book

  1. Upload the changed master doc file, the ODT file containing the full book, and the PDF file to the Published Chapters folder for the book, replacing the previous version of the master doc and the book. Set the state of the master doc (.odm) and the PDF to "externally visible" but set the state of the ODT as "internally published".
  2. If any chapter files have been modified during book production, upload the changed files to the Published Chapters folder for the book, replacing the previous versions. Set the state to "externally visible".
  3. Log in to the wiki and replace the book file (PDF). To do this:
    1. Use an address similar to to get to the File History wiki page for the book.
    2. Choose Upload a new version of this file.
    3. On the Upload File page, browse for the book file, type something in the File Changes box (usually "corrected typos" or "updated for version x.x" or similar is sufficient). Select the Ignore any warnings checkbox and click the Upload file button.
  4. Go to the User Guides page. Edit that page to show the publication date and file size for the revised book.
  5. For the convenience of translators, create a zip file containing the master document (ODM) and all the individual chapters (ODT). Create another zip file containing all the individual PDFs. Upload these zip files to o the Published Chapters folder for the book, replacing the previous versions. Set the state to "externally visible".
  6. Tell the Authors list that you have republished the book.

Naming convention for published books

To ensure that chapters and books are listed correctly on the Documentation Project's website, file names take the following form:
AA00CC3-Name.pdf, where
AA=book number, 00=book (these are zeros), CC=book initials, 3=OOo3, Name=Chapter name.

Book number and initials:
01 = GS = Getting Started
02 = WG = Writer Guide
03 = CG = Calc Guide
04 = DG = Draw Guide
05 = IG = Impress Guide
06 = MG = Migration Guide
07 = BG = Database Guide

The book name is given in full; each word begins with a capital letter and there are no spaces between words. So for example, the file name for the Getting Started with OOo3 book is 0100GS3-GettingStarted.pdf

Content on this page is licensed under the Creative Common Attribution 3.0 license (CC-BY).
Personal tools