OpenOffice.org Tips and Tricks Part III

By Eric Geier | Posted August 27, 2008

If you've read through Part I and Part II of this tutorial series, you ought to have plenty of templates and clip art for OpenOffice.org (OOo), be typing grammatically-correct papers, and know a few more tips and tricks to ease your transition from Microsoft (MS) Office. Now this part will help you perform a few tasks in OOo that were available in MS Office, just harder to figure out due to the different interface.

Are you a WordArt fanatic? Can't find an equivalent text effect creator in OOo? Well, you don't have to fret any longer, OOo's Fontwork feature is here to save your day. As Figure 1 shows, Fontwork creates text similar to WordArt.

Fontwork has its own toolbar, which usually isn't visible by default. So to access the Fontwork settings from OOo, click View -- Toolbars -- Fontwork. Then to add Fontwork to your document, click the Fontwork icon (the picture frame with the letter A) to open the Fontwork Galley. Select the style you want to use and click OK. Once it's added to the document you can edit the text by double-clicking the Fontwork object, which in many cases displays the text in a editable format that is hard to see.

Once you have the Fontwork added, you can try out the different styles if you wish. Simply select the Fontwork object and click the Fontwork Shape icon. You can also fiddle with the letter height, character spacing, and alignment settings from the Fontwork toolbar as well. You can customize the colors, sizing, borders, and more by right clicking the Fontwork object and selecting Line, Area, or Position and Size, depending on what you want to do. You should be able to get the text to match your desired color and style scheme.


OpenOffice.org screen shot
Figure 2

Did you use the Diagram tool in MS Office, and trying to find similar functionality in OOo? Though OOo doesn't have a Diagram Gallery (see Figure 2) like in MS Office, you can still manually create comparable diagrams (see Figure 3). You can create an organizational chart for your team at work or an organization you belong to, make visuals of technical processes, or even create your own food pyramid; whatever floats your boat. Some diagram types may take a bit of time and creativity with the basic building blocks, however, some types like organizational charts and radial diagrams you can easily create by throwing a few shapes down and squeezing in a few connector lines.

When you want to start creating a Diagram, you need to make the Drawing toolbar visible by clicking View -- Toolbars -- Drawing. You can do this in Writer, Impress, or Draw; however (for reasons I'm not sure of) the Drawing toolbar in Writer lacks the special line connectors that make it much easier to connect shapes and objects. If you want to make an organizational chart or diagram that contains shapes connected by lines for use in a Writer document, you can create it in either Draw or Impress and then copy the final product into Writer.

Once you have the Drawing toolbar visible, you can start plopping down shapes. You can insert text within the shape by double-clicking it and typing. If want to connect the shapes, choose a line style from the Connectors, hover over a object or shape, click and hold down the mouse button until you're hovering over the other object you want to run the line between, and then release the mouse button. If you want to change the spots the lines connect to, select the line connector, click and hold the mouse button, and drag it to another connector point or a different object, and then release the mouse button. Once you have the basic diagram built, you can make any desired formatting changes; for example, sizes and colors for the lines and shapes.

Making page numbers in MS Office was so easy, a quick click of Insert -- Page Numbers from the toolbar opened up a dialog box to help you add the page numbers to your document. Doing this in OOo, at least in the simplest format, is fairly quick also. However, as you may have found out, it isn't listed on the Insert menu.

  1. Follow these steps to add the page numbering to the footer's of your document:
  2. Create a footer to insert the page number into by clicking Insert -- Footer -- Default.
  3. Click in the new footer area on the bottom of the document
  4. Insert the auto Page Number field by clicking Insert -- Fields -- Page Number.
  5. Format the text in the footer the way you want it. For example, use the center or right-align buttons, type the word Page in front of the page number field, and so on. See Figure 4 for an example. You can even add the Page Count field to show how many pages are in the document; for example, Page 1 of 5.

If you want the page numbering to start on a page other than the first in the document, you can make a simple setting change. You for example may want to do this if the first page(s) are title or table of contents pages. However, this works best if you desire to show just the page number, not if you also want to have the word Page shown or the word of and the total amount of pages in the document. To get the words Page or of from not showing up the first page(s) or to get the Page Count field to show the correct amount of the pages, you have to change the actual page numbering scheme, which is a more complicated process than what's given in this tutorial.

The simple way of changing the page numbering is to double-click the Page Number field (1) in the document footer. On the Edit Fields dialog box, change the Offset field (see Figure 5) into a negative number; -1 if you want to skip one page, -2 for two pages, -3 for three pages, and so on.

Now you'll be able to drop your document on the floor and easily organize your pages into the correct order! Don't you feel lucky?

Eric Geier is an author of many computing and networking books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Windows Vista (Que 2007).

Adapted from LinuxPlanet.com.

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