Working with Text
In Writer, you can use the toolbars, the sidebar and menus (normal and contextual) to modify text. For example, modify the selected paragraph through Format → Paragraph (choose Character to format text). Alternatively, right click the selection and choose Paragraph or Character.
Formatting tools are available through the Format menu or a right click on the page. But it is important to note that these options only modify the corresponding page style. In Writer there is no direct formatting for pages, page formatting can only be done through styles. For this reason, we will leave the details on how to format pages to the corresponding section for page styles.
- 1 Selecting Text
- 2 Cutting, copying and pasting text
- 3 Numbered and bulleted lists
- 4 AutoText
- 5 Find and replace text
- 6 Inserting special characters
- 7 Formatting Paragraphs
- 8 Formatting characters
- 9 Autoformatting text
- 10 Using footnotes and endnotes
- 11 Checking spelling and grammar
- 12 Using built-in language tools
- 13 Using synonyms and the thesaurus
- 14 Hyphenating words
- 15 Word completion
- 16 Line numbering
- 17 Tracking changes
- 18 Comments
- 19 Word Count
- 20 Changing Case
In Writer, in order to work with text, you need to select it. Selecting a piece of text, or consecutive pieces of text, is relatively simple.
Using the cursor, left click the text, and drag until the desired text is selected. You can also use selection shortcuts by left clicking the text. Single words can be selected with a double left click, a sentence selected with a triple left click, and a paragraph selected with a quadruple left click.
With the keyboard, use the navigation arrows to choose the text, hold down the key and select text area with the arrow keys.
To quickly select content on the entire page, press Edit → Select All.+ , or go to
Selecting items that are not consecutive
- Using the cursor, select the first piece of text.
- Hold down the key (continue holding until all selections are complete), and use the cursor to select the next piece of text.
- Repeat until all selections are made.
Selecting a vertical block of text
Text may be separated by spaces or tabs in a vertical block. To select text in this form, change the selection mode to block by choosing Edit → Selection Mode → Block Area or left click on STD in the status bar until it changes to BLK.
Now you can make your selection as you would with consecutive text selection.
Cutting, copying and pasting text
Text can be moved within a document, or between documents by cutting or copying and subsequently pasting the text.
Cutting text entails removing it entirely and relocating it within the document. Copying text creates a duplicate to be placed within the document.
To cut or copy (with text selected) you can use:
- Keyboard shortcuts: + (cut) or + (copy)
- Menu selections: Edit → Cut or Edit → Copy
- Contextual menus: Right click text selection and choose Cut or Copy
- Icon sources: Cut or Copy
Pasting text places the cut or copied text in the document. When pasting text, the formatting result depends on the source and how you paste it.
To paste and retain original formatting use:
- Keyboard shortcut: +
- Menu selection: Edit → Paste
- Contextual menu: Right click and choose Paste
- Icon source: Paste
To paste and take on formatting of the surrounding text:
- Choose the arrow to the right of the paste icon, and choose Unformatted text
- Select Edit → Paste Special → Unformatted text
For other paste formatting options, choose from the drop down menu of the paste icon or the Paste Special dialog box.
Numbered and bulleted lists
There are several ways to create numbered or bulleted lists:
- Auto-formatting (covered later in this chapter)
- List Styles (covered in the chapter on Styles)
- The Numbering and Bullets icons on the paragraph formatting toolbar. The use of these icons will be described in the section below.
|It is important to note that it is better to avoid the use of numbered list in numbered chapters. In another section of this guide we will see how to number chapters and give an outline to a document.|
To produce a numbered or bulleted list, select the paragraphs in the list and choose the appropriate icon.
Using the Bullets and Numbering Toolbar
With a numbered or bulleted list active, a contextual toolbar will open.
The buttons, numbered on the screenshot, perform the following actions:
- Bullets ON/OFF
- Numbering ON/OFF
- Numbering OFF
- Promote one level
- Demote one level
- Promote one level with sub-points
- Demote one level with sub-points
- Insert an unnumbered entry
- Move line up
- Move line down
- Move line up with sub-points
- Move line down with sub-points
- Restart numbering
- Bullets and Numbering dialog box
The options in the Bullets and Numbering dialog box are the same as when editing a list style, so these properties will be covered in the chapter on List Styles.
As mentioned earlier, list sub-points refer to the levels of a numbered list or bullet, see example below:
- Sub First
- Sub Second
- Sub Sub Second
- Sub Second
Use AutoText to insert text, tables, fields and other items for reuse, by assigning a key combination to the item for retrieval.
For example, by typing dt and Edit → AutoText to see the one appropriate for your language). Typing fn and will produce a table with one row and two columns, with a Math object on the left cell and a variable on the other., a long paragraph with a sample text will insert into the document (note: dt stands for dummy text and different acronyms may apply to non-English versions: use
Both examples show what AutoText does and its use, which is to introduce a document snip previously defined in any place using only an abbreviation and a keyboard shortcut.
Inserting an AutoText
Insert an AutoText by typing the abbreviation followed by.
To view the available abbreviations, you can choose Edit → AutoText ( + ), but an easier method is activating the Insert toolbar. With the toolbar active choose the AutoText icon . You can now view the AutoText categories and their respective abbreviations.
Defining an AutoText
- Select the content you want to use for an AutoText. The content can be anything: text, tables, pictures, frames, sections, etc.
- With the content selected, go to Edit → AutoText.
- The AutoText dialog box will appear. Provide a name for your entry in the Name box. Writer will suggest a shortcut, which you can change.
- In the box to the left, choose a category for the entry, where the AutoText will be classified.
- Select the New (text only) (for the AutoText to take on formatting where it is inserted into the document) or New (for the AutoText to retain its formatting). button to the right, and select either
- Select to return to the document.
|If the AutoText contains a table, it is necessary to select at least one line before and one line after the table, otherwise only the content and not the table itself will go into the AutoText.|
Inside the AutoText dialog box, note the following features:
- With the option Display remainder of the name as suggestion while typing enabled, Writer will suggest an AutoText if you start to type the AutoText name. The suggestion will appear in a pop-up box, and pressing will insert the AutoText.
- The button allows you to create new categories to classify your AutoTexts.
- defines where to save the AutoTexts.
Editing an AutoText
In the AutoText dialog box (Edit → AutoText), you can edit your AutoText entries.
Select an existing AutoText, and choose the AutoText... button to modify or even eliminate the AutoText.
Selecting Edit, a document will open with the AutoText. Simply make the changes and save. The entry will now be available as edited.
|The changes will apply only to AutoTexts inserted after the modification, AutoText already inserted will not be changed|
Print a list of AutoText entries
- Choose Tools → Macros → Organize Macros → OpenOffice Basics.
- In the Macro from list, choose OpenOffice Macros → Gimmicks.
- Select AutoText and click .
- A list of the AutoText entries will be generated in a new document. You can print this document.
Find and replace text
You can find text within a document with the Find toolbar, or the Find & Replace dialog box. In the Find & Replace dialog box, you also have the ability to:
- Find and replace words or phrases
- Find and replace specific formatting
- Find and replace paragraph styles
- Use regular expressions to find and replace text
Display the Find & Replace dialog box by pressing + or choosing Edit → Find & Replace.
- Type the text you want to search for in the Search for box.
- To replace the text, type the new text in the Replace with box.
- To find text, click Find. To replace, click Replace. Choosing Find All will select all instances of the text. Selecting Replace All will replace all matches.
- You can choose from several search options such as matching case, matching whole words, or searching for similar words.
Find and replace specific formatting
To quickly change the format of text from one style to another:
- Choose the More Options button to expand the dialog box and view the formatting options.
- To search for text with specific formatting, enter the text in the Search for box. To only search for formatting leave the Search for box empty.
- With the Search for box selected, choose Format.
- Select the formatting options to include and click OK.
- To replace with different text and/or formatting, perform the same actions for the Replace with box.
- Choose Find, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.
Find and replace paragraph styles
To quickly change paragraph styles from one style to another:
- Choose the More Options button to expand the dialog box.
- Select Search for Styles (if you have attributes specified this option is labeled as Including Styles).
- Select styles from the Search for and Replace with drop down menus.
- Choose Find, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.
Using regular expressions (wildcards)
Regular expressions (also known as wildcards) are combinations of characters that instruct Writer how to search for something.
- Choose the More Options button to expand the dialog box.
- Select the Regular expressions option.
- Type the search text with the regular expression and the replacement text if any.
- Choose Find, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.
Examples of common regular expressions:
|Any single character||.||b.d finds bad, bud, bid, bed|
|One of the specified characters||[xyz]||b[iu]n finds bin and bun|
|Any single character in this range||[x-y]||[r-t]eed finds reed, seed, and teed (range must be in alphabetically ascending order)|
|Any single character except the characters inside the bracket||[^x]||p[^a]t finds post and pest but not past|
|The beginning of a word||\<start||\<log finds logbook and logistics but not catalog|
|The end of a word||end\>||log\> finds catalog but not logistics|
|A paragraph marker||$||Does not work as a replacement character, use \n instead|
|A line break||\n||Finds a line break that was inserted with+ , as a replacement character it inserts a paragraph marker|
To view a full list of regular expressions, select Help → OpenOffice Help and search for regular expressions, choose list of to display the list.
Inserting special characters
A special character is one that is not found on the standard keyboard. For example, ₵ ə Σ ẽ ψ are all special characters.
To insert a special character:
- Place the cursor in the document where you want the character to appear.
- Select Insert → Special Character for the Special Character dialog box.
- Inside the dialog box, choose the character from the available fonts and click OK.
|Note: Different fonts include different special characters. Utilize the font selection to search for specific characters.|
Non-breaking spaces and hyphens
A non-breaking space (NBSP) or non-breaking hyphen tells Writer to never break lines at that spot. A non-breaking space or hyphen can never end or begin an automatically wrapped line. Use non-breaking spaces to prevent periods at the end of lines that do not terminate sentences, or numbers or bullet-like symbols at the beginning of lines that do not initiate list items. Use a non-breaking hyphen to prevent the hyphen from appearing at the end of a line, such as in a phone number.
Insert a non-breaking space
Place the cursor between the two words, and press+ .
Insert a non-breaking hyphen
Place the cursor where the hyphen will appear, and press+ + .
En and em dashes
To use en and em dashes, the Replace dashes option must be checked under Tools → AutoCorrect Options. With this option enabled, Writer will replace two hyphens, under certain conditions, with the corresponding dash.
In the following table, the A and B represent text consisting of letters A to Z or digits 0 to 9. The table describes the different en and em dash options.
|Text that you type:||Result|
|A - B (A, space, minus, space, B)||A – B (A, space, en-dash, space, B)|
|A -- B (A, space, minus, minus, space, B)||A – B (A, space, en-dash, space, B)|
|A--B (A, minus, minus, B)||A—B (A, em-dash, B)|
|A-B (A, minus, B)||A-B (unchanged)|
|A -B (A, space, minus, B)||A -B (unchanged)|
|A --B (A, space, minus, minus, B)||A –B (A, space, en-dash, B)|
En or em dashes can also be inserted manually through Insert → Special Characters, use characters U+2013 or U-2014.
There are also shortcuts available to insert en or em dashes, that vary per operating system.
|Operating System||En dash shortcut||Em dash shortcut|
|Windows||+ 0150||+ 0151|
|Linux||Compose + two hyphens + a period||Compose + three hyphens + a period|
|Mac||+ hyphen||+ + hyphen|
Formatting paragraphs in Writer can be achieved through alignment, justified text, line spacing, numbering or bullets, and indenting. These actions can be performed using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar. The below image shows the Formatting toolbar with the paragraph specific icons displayed.
|Note: You can use paragraph styles rather than manually formatting paragraphs, especially for long documents.|
|1 Open the Styles and||5 Align Right||10 Numbering On/Off|
|Formatting Window||6 Justified||11 Bullets On/Off|
|2 Apply Style||7 Line Spacing: 1||12 Decrease Indent|
|3 Align Left||8 Line Spacing: 1.5||13 Increase Indent|
|4 Centered||9 Line Spacing: 2||14 Paragraph|
Aligned and justified text
Text can be aligned to the left, center, or right of the document. The below image shows how text appears with the different alignment options.
When using justified text, the last line by default is aligned to the left. You can also align the last line to the center, or justify the last line. These options are controlled in the Alignment tab from Format → Paragraph.
Tab stops and indents
The ruler displays the default and defined tab stops. The tab settings affect the indentation of paragraphs. You can manually change the indentation of paragraphs with the Increase Indent or Decrease Indent icons, or by using thekey.
Tab and indent settings are discussed in the Ruler section of Writer's User Interface.
Formatting characters in Writer can be achieved through adjustments to the font family, font weight, font size, or font coloring. These actions can be performed using the buttons on the Formatting toolbar. The below image shows the Formatting toolbar with the character specific icons displayed.
|Note: You can use character styles rather than manually formatting characters, especially for long documents.|
|1 Open the Styles and||6 Italic||12 Font Color|
|Formatting Window||7 Underline||13 Highlighting|
|2 Apply Style||8 Superscript||14 Background color|
|3 Font Name||9 Subscript||15 Open Character Format|
|4 Font Size||10 Increase Font||dialog box|
|5 Bold||11 Reduce Font|
Writer will automatically format parts of your document, according to the options selected in the AutoCorrect dialog box (Tools → AutoCorrect Options).
Inside the AutoCorrect Options dialog box, the Help button will open and describe the selected choice and how to activate the autoformats.
To automatically format your document with the selected options, select or deselect from the submenu in Format → AutoCorrect.
The default option, automatically formats the document while you type.
After choosing this option, Writer will automatically format the document.
Apply and Edit Changes
After choosing this option, Writer will automatically format the document and then open a dialog box where you can accept or reject changes.
Open the AutoCorrect dialog box.
Using footnotes and endnotes
Footnotes and endnotes are a type of note that comment on or cites a reference for a designed part of the text. Footnotes are printed at the bottom of the page for which they are referenced, and endnotes are printed at the end of the document.
Inserting footnotes and endnotes
Place the cursor where you want the footnote or endnote to appear. Select Insert → Footnote/Endnote or click on the Insert Footnote/Endnote Directly icon or the Insert Endnote Directly icon from the Insert toolbar (View → Toolbars → Insert).
If you use Insert → Footnote/Endnote, the Insert Footnote/Endnote dialog box is displayed. From here you can choose the type of numbering sequence and whether to insert a footnote or an endnote.
The footnote or endnote will be inserted into the text, and the cursor relocated to the footnote or endnote area at the end of the page/document. You can then type the footnote/endnote content in this area.
To delete a footnote or endnote, simply delete the appropriate marker. The contents of the footnote/endnote will be automatically deleted and the numbering of the other footnotes and endnotes is adjusted automatically.
Defining the format of footnotes and endnotes
To format footnotes or endnotes, select Tools → Footnotes/Endnotes. Choose from numbering and styles settings and click OK.
Checking spelling and grammar
Writer provides a spelling checker that offers two functions:
- The AutoSpellcheck checks each word as it is typed and displays a wavy red line under misspelled words. When the spelling error is corrected the red wavy line disappears.
- The spelling check performs a separate spelling check on the document when you click on the icon. The spellcheck reviews the document and opens the Spelling and Grammar dialog box if misspelled words are found. The spelling check starts at the current cursor position and advances to the end of the document. You can choose to continue the spellcheck from the beginning of the document.
Additional features of the spelling checker:
- Right click on a word with the wavy underline to open a contextual menu. You can select from suggested words and the selection will replace the misspelled word.
- Within the Spelling and Grammar dialog box you can change the dictionary language by choosing from the drop down menu in the Text Language field. Add a word to a dictionary by selecting a word, click Add and choose the dictionary to add it to.
- For more spelling check options, click Options in the Spelling and Grammar dialog box. You can choose from several options including whether to check uppercase words or words with numbers. You can also manage your dictionaries, add or delete dictionaries and add or delete words in your dictionaries.
Writer does not include a grammar checker but you can install an extension such as the LanguageTool.
Using built-in language tools
The document language determines the dictionary used for spellcheck, thesaurus, and hyphenation, as well as the decimal and thousands delimiter and the default currency format. Within the document you can apply a separate language to any paragraph style. This language has priority over the language for the whole document. You can also assign a language to selected pieces of text in a paragraph, by direct formatting or character style. This language has priority over the paragraph style and document language.
Writer provides some tools that allow you to mix multiple languages within the same document, or easily switch languages for your documents. This can be accomplished through:
- Language settings in Options
- Paragraph and character styles
- Using the Tools → Language menu
- Using the status bar
Using language settings in Options
Using the language settings in Options allows you to set the language of the whole document.
- Select Tools → Options and go to Language Settings → Languages.
- Under Default languages for documents, select the document language (this will be applied to newly created documents).
- If you want to change the language for the current document only, select the For the current document only option.
Using paragraph and character styles
Selecting a language for paragraph style:
- Place the cursor within the paragraph that you want to edit.
- Right click to open the context menu and select Edit Paragraph Style.
- Inside the Paragraph Style dialog box select the Font tab.
- Select the language to use and click OK.
Selecting a language for selected text:
- Place the cursor within the text that you want to edit.
- Choose Format → Character.
- Inside the Character Style dialog box select the Font tab.
- Select the language to use and click OK.
You can set the language for the document, paragraph or characters from Tools → Language on the menu bar.
For Selection: Applies language to the selected text.
For Paragraph: Applies language to the selected paragraph.
For all Text: Applies language to the entire document.
Using the status bar
Change the language of the paragraph or the entire document from the status bar.
- Click on the language in the status bar to pop up a menu of choices.
- Choosing Reset to Default Language will return the paragraph or entire document to the default language set in Tool → Options.
Using synonyms and the thesaurus
To access a list of synonyms from the context menu:
- Select a word, right click to open the contextual menu.
- Under Synonyms will be a submenu of alternative words.
- Click on the word to replace it with the selected word in the document.
To access the thesaurus, which contains a more extensive list of synonyms:
- Select a word or phrase.
- Choose Tools → Language → Thesaurus or + or right click and choose Synonyms → Thesaurus.
- Choose from the words in the dialog box to replace.
You can use hyphenation in Writer automatically (Writer uses hyphenation dictionaries) or manually (inserting conditional hyphens where necessary).
- Open the Styles and Formatting window (click on the Styles and Formatting icon or press + .
- Under the Paragraph Styles page, right click on Default and select Modify.
- In the Paragraph Style dialog box, select the Text Flow tab.
- Under Hyphenation, select or deselect the Automatically option, click OK to save.
You can set hyphenation choices through Tools → Options → Languages → Settings - Writing Aids in Options near the bottom of the box, scroll down to find the hyphenation settings.
To change the minimum number of characters for hyphenation, number of characters before a line break, or the number of characters after a line break, select the item and click the button.
Hyphenation without inquiry specifies that you will not be asked to manually hyphenate words that the hyphenation dictionary does not recognize. If this box is not selected, when a word is not recognized a dialog box will open where you can manually enter hyphens.
Hyphenate special regions specifies that hyphenation will be carried out in footnotes, headers and footers.
It is recommended to not use a normal hyphen, which remains visible at all times, even if the word is no longer at the end of a line when you add or delete text or change formatting.
Instead it is recommended to use a conditional hyphen. To insert a conditional hyphen inside a word, click where you want the hyphen to appear and press+ . The hyphen will only appear when it is at the end of the line, even if automatic hyphenation is turned off.
The word completion feature in writer tries to guess the word you are typing and offers to complete the word for you. If word completion is enabled, you will see the completed word highlighted as you type. To accept the suggestion, press. Otherwise continue typing and the suggestion will disappear.
To enable or disabled word completion, select Tools → AutoCorrect Options → Word Completion → Enable Word Completion.
Additionally, you can customize Writer's word completion settings with the following options:
- Append space: Adds space automatically after an accepted word.
- Show as tip: Shows the suggested word as a tip (hovering over the word in a box) rather than completing the word as you type.
- Collect words: Collects the words used in word completion when working on a document to save for later use in other documents.
- Accept with: Changes the key that accepts a suggested entry.
- Min. word length: Changes the length of the smallest words to be remembered.
- Max. entries: Changes the maximum number of words remembered.
- Delete entry: Deletes specific entries from the word completion list.
Line numbering adds line numbers in the margin of the document.
To enable line numbering, choose Tools → Line Numbering and select the Show Numbering option, click OK.
In the Line Numbering dialog box you can choose the style, format, and position of the numbering, as well as the spacing and numbering intervals of the numbering.
To keep track of changes made in a document you may:
- Make changes to a copy of the document, and use Writer to compare the changes made between the original and the copy.
- Enable change marks, that show where you have added or deleted material or changed formatting. You can review and accept or reject each of the changes.
- Select Edit → Changes → Record. To show or hide the display of changes select Edit → Changes → Show.
- To include a comment with the change, place the cursor in the area of the change, and choose Edit → Changes → Comment. When hovering over the change, a Help Tip will display the type of change, the author, date and time of the change. If you want a comment to also display in the tip, make sure you have Extended Tips enabled (Tools → Options → OpenOffice → General and select Extended tips).
- To stop recording changes, select Edit → Changes → Record to deselect the tracking.
Accepting or rejecting changes
To accept or reject the recorded changes, you can use the right click context menu, or the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box.
The results of accepting or rejecting changes are:
- Accepting an insertion removes the marked change color from the inserted text.
- Rejecting an insertion removes the text from the document.
- Accepting a deletion removes the text from the document.
- Rejecting a deletion removes the change indicator and restores the text to the document.
Right click context menu
- Right click inside a recorded change
- In the context menu, choose Accept Change or Reject Change.
Accept or Reject Changes dialog box
- Select Edit → Changes → Accept or Reject. This will open the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box.
- Changes that have not yet been accepted or rejected are displayed. Selecting a change in the dialog box highlights the change in the document, so you can see what the editor changed.
- Choose Accept or Reject to accept or reject the selected change. You can choose Accept All or Reject All to accept or reject all changes without review.
- To show only the changes made by certain people, or changes made under other restrictions, use the Filter tab. Specify filter criteria and return to the List tab to view changes.
Merging modified documents
Sometimes multiple reviewers will return the edited version of a document at the same time. In this case, you may want to review all changes of the document at once. For this purpose you can merge documents in Writer.
- Open one of the modified copies.
- Choose Edit → Changes → Merge Document. Select another copy of the document to merge.
- The Accept or Reject Changes dialog box will open, showing changes by one than one reviewer. If you want to merge more documents, close the dialog box and repeat step 2.
- All recorded changes are now included in the open copy. To preserve, save this file under another name.
Sometimes reviewers may not track changes they make in a document. In Writer you can find the changes if you compare the documents. You must have the original document and the edited document.
- Open the edited document. Select Edit → Compare Document.
- Select the original document and choose Insert.
- Changes will be marked and the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box will be displayed. You can choose to accept or reject changes as described in the above section.
Writer provides another type of comments, that appear to the side of the document page, and look like "sticky notes". These comments allow authors and reviewers to exchange ideas, ask for suggestions or brainstorm during review.
To insert a comment, place the cursor in the place the comment refers to and select Insert → Comment, or press + + . The comment will be anchored to the reference point by a dotted line, and displayed in a box to the right hand side of the page where you can type the text of the comment.
The comment box will show the author's name and time stamp indicating when the comment was created. If more than one person edits the document, each author is allocated a different comment background color.
Clicking on the menu arrow icon of the comment displays a drop-down menu where you can delete the current comment, all the comments from the same author, or all the comments in the document. Right clicking on the comment gives further options to apply basic formatting changes to the comment.
You can navigate from one comment to another using the Navigator. With the Navigator open, expand the comments section and select the comment text to move to the anchor point of the comment. You can also edit or delete comments from the Navigator by right clicking on the comment text and selecting Comment → Edit or Delete.
Select text and choose Tools → Word Count. The word count dialog box will display the number of words and characters in the selection, as well as the number of words in the document.
To change the case of a selection, choose Format → Change case and choose from the following:
- Sentence case: only the first word is capitalized (and proper nouns)
- lower case: no words are capitalized (except proper nouns)
- UPPER CASE: all letters are capitalized
- Capitalize Every Word: every word is capitalized
- tOGGLE cASE: changes every letter to the opposite case