Lesson 2: Formatting Pages ( Chapter 1)

1.Choosing a layout method

The best layout method varies depending on what the final document should look like and what sort of information will be in the document. Here are some examples.

For a book similar to this user guide, with one column of text, some figures without text beside them, and some other figures with descriptive text, use page styles for basic layout, and tables to place figures beside descriptive text when necessary.

Use page styles (with two columns) for an index or other document with two columns of text where the text continues from the left-hand column to the right-hand column and then to the next page, all in sequence (also known as snaking columns of text). If the title of the document (on the first page) is full-page width, put it in a single-column section.

For a newsletter with complex layout, two or three columns on the page, and some articles that continue from one page to some place several pages later, use page styles for basic layout. Place articles in linked frames and anchor graphics to fixed positions on the page if necessary.

For a document with terms and translations to appear side-by-side in what appear to be columns, use a table to keep items lined up, and so you can type in both “columns".

2. Setting up basic page layout using styles

Introduction: page styles

In Writer, page styles define the basic layout of all pages, including page size, margins, the placement of headers and footers, borders and backgrounds, number of columns, and so on.

Writer comes with several page styles, which you can build on or modify, and you can define new (custom) page styles. You can have one or many page styles in a single document.


All pages in a Writer document are based on styles. If you do not specify a page style, Writer uses the Default page style.

To change the layout of individual pages, either define a new page style or use one of the techniques (sections, frames, or tables) described later in this chapter.

This chapter describes some uses of page styles. Some other uses are discussed in Chapter 6 (Introduction to Styles). The Page Style dialog box is covered in detail in Chapter 7 (Working with Styles).


Any modifications of page styles, including the Default page style, apply only to the document you are working on. If you want the changes to be the default for all documents, you need to put the changes into a template and make that template the default template. See Chapter 10 (Working with Templates) for details.


Inserting a page break without switching the style

In many documents (for example, a multi-page report), you may want the text to flow from one page to the next as you add or delete information. Writer does this automatically, unless you override the text flow using one of the techniques described earlier.

If you do want a page break in a particular place, for example, to put a heading at the top of a new page, here is how to do it:

  1. Position the cursor in the paragraph you want to be at the start of the next page. Right-click and choose Paragraphin the pop-up menu.
  2. On the Text Flowpage of the Paragraph dialog box, in the Breaks section, check Insert. Do not check With Page Style.
  3. Click OKto position the paragraph at the start of the next page.

Inserting a manual page break.

Defining a different first page for a document

Many documents, such as letters and reports, have a first page that is different from the other pages in the document. For example, the first page of a letterhead typically has a different header, as shown below, or the first page of a report might have no header or footer, while the other pages do. With OOo, you can define the style for the first page and specify the style for the following page to be applied automatically.

Letterhead with different page styles for first and following pages.

As an example, we can use the First Page and Default page styles that come with OOo. The diagram below shows what we want to happen: the first page is to be followed by the default page, and all the following pages are to be in the Default page style.

Flow of page styles.

To set up this sequence:

  1. Open the Styles and Formatting window. (You can choose one of the following: click the Styles and Formattingicon  located at the left-hand end of the object bar, choose Format > Styles and Formatting, or press F11.)
  2. On the Styles and Formatting window, click on the Page Stylesicon  (fourth from the left) to display a list of page styles.

Modifying the First Page style.

  1. Right-click on First Pageand select Modify from the pop-up menu.
  2. On the Organizerpage of the Page Style dialog box (Figure 5), look at the Next Style This property defines what the page style for the next page will be. It should be set to Default, but if it is not, you can change the next style by clicking on the drop-down button and choosing Default from the list of page styles.

Setting the Next Style property for a page style.

  1. On the other pages of this dialog box, you can turn on or off the header and footer for the first page and define other characteristics, such as columns, a page border, or a page background. For more information, see Chapter 7(Working with Styles).
  2. Click OKto save the changes.

You can override the Next Style property by manually inserting a page break and specifying a page style or by starting a page with a paragraph or table that has its own page style property defined. These techniques are described in Inserting a landscape page into a portrait document.

Changing page orientation within a document

A document can contain pages in more than one orientation. A common scenario is to have a landscape page in the middle of a document, whereas the other pages are in a portrait orientation. Here are the steps to achieve it.

Setting up a landscape page style

  1. Note the page style that is current and the margin settings. (You can find the margin settings on the Pagepage of the Page Style dialog box, as shown in step 4.)
  2. Create a new style. (Right-click on the current page style in the Styles and Formatting window and choose New.)

Starting a new page style.

  1. On the Organizerpage of the Page Style dialog box, name (by typing in the Name field) this new style Landscape and set the Next Style property to Landscape (to allow for having more than one sequential landscape page).

Naming the new style and setting the next page style to Landscape.

  1. On the Pagepage of the Page Style dialog box, set the Orientation to Landscape. The width and height attributes of the page will automatically change.

Setting orientation and margins for a landscape page.

  1. Change the margins so that they correspond with the margins of the portrait page. That is, the portrait top margin becomes the landscape left margin, and so on.
  2. Click OKto save the changes.

Inserting a landscape page into a portrait document

Now that you have defined the Landscape page style, here is how to apply it.

  1. Position the cursor in the paragraph or table at the start of the page that is to be set to landscape. Right-click and choose Paragraphor Table, respectively, in the pop-up menu.
  2. On the Text Flowpage of the Paragraph dialog box or the Table Format dialog box, select Insert (or Break for a table) and With Page Style. Set the Page Style property to Landscape. ClickOK to close the dialog box and to apply the new page style.

Specifying a page break before a paragraph.

Specifying a page break before a table.

  1. Position the cursor in the paragraph or table where the page is to return to portrait orientation and change the properties of that paragraph or table properties so that With Page Styleis the portrait page style that was used before the Landscape page style.
  2. Click OKto return to the previous portrait page style.

If you need the headers or footers on the landscape pages to be in portrait orientation, see Portrait headers on landscape pages.

 3. Changing page margins

You can change page margins in two ways:

  1. Using the page rulers—quick and easy, but does not have fine control.
  2. Using the Page Style dialog—can specify margins to two (fractional) decimal places.

If you change the margins using the rulers, the new margins affect the page style and will be shown in the Page Style dialog the next time you open it.

To change margins using the rulers:

  1. The shaded sections of the rulers are the margins. Put the mouse cursor over the line between the gray and white sections. The pointer turns into a double-headed arrow.
  2. Hold down the left mouse button and drag the mouse to move the margin.

Moving the margins.


The small arrows on the ruler are used for indenting paragraphs. They are often in the same place as the page margins, so you need to be careful to move the margin marker, not the arrows. Place the mouse pointer between the arrows and, when the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow, you can move the margin (the indent arrows will move with it).


To change margins using the Page Style dialog:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the page and select Pagefrom the pop-up menu.
  2. On the Pagepage of the dialog, type the required distances in the Margins

 4.Using columns to define the page layout