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5 Benefits of LibreOffice Writer

This chapter includes the following four sections:

5.1 Why Libre Office Writer is better than Microsoft Word
5.2 Simplify Libre Writer
5.3 Add Extensions to Libre Writer

5.4 Create Your Own Custom Template
Add Extensions to Libre Writer
Below is an example of how to install a free extension. To reach the Libre Office Extensions directory, go to https://extensions.libreoffice.org/
Then click on Extensions.

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There are currently 198 extensions which are listed by “Highest Rated”, “Most Downloads” “Recently Updated” and “Newest” You can also change the category to just display extensions for Writer, Impress or Calc. To check out the extensions for Writer, select these and then click on Search. Scroll down a the second page and you will find the following Diagram Creation extension:
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Click on the Extension to go to its page. Then click on the latest release to download it. Save the in your Downloads folder. Then open Libre Office:

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Then select Tools, Extension Manager.

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You can also reach the Extension Manager inside of Libre Writer by clicking on Tools, Extension Manager.

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In the Extension Manager screen, click ADD:

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This opens up a browser window. Find the extension in your Downloads folder and select it. Then click OK. Then select All Users. Then Accept the License Agreement. Click on the Close button at the bottom of the screen. You will need to restart Libre Office to access the extension. After installation, the extension will be listed in the Extension Manager which can be reached from the Tools Menu on the Libre Office screen or the Libre Writer screen. After restarting Libre Office, open a Libre Draw document. Then click on Insert Smart Gallery to begin constructing your process diagram.

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You can create either organizational diagrams:

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Or relationship process diagrams:

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Other popular extension
Below are just a few of the extensions you can add to Libre Office.

PDF Import
This extension enables you to make minor modifications to the text of existing PDF files when the original source files do not exist or you are unable to open the source files. (Whenever possible, modify the source and regenerate the PDF to obtain the best results.) When the extension is installed, PDF is listed as a choice in the File Type drop-down list in the File → Open dialog. The best results can be achieved with the PDF/ODF hybrid file format, which this extension also enables. Hybrid PDF/ODF files will be opened in LibreOffice as an ODF file without any layout changes.

Presenter Console
Provides extra control over Impress presentations; for example, the presenter has ability to see the upcoming slide, the slide notes, and a presentation timer—while the audience sees only the current slide.

Professional Template Pack II
Provides more than 120 templates for Writer, Calc, and Impress. Available in several languages. After you have installed this extension, you will find the templates under File → New → Templates and Documents.

Export as Images to export Impress slides as JPEG images.

Parabolic Color Palette for expanding the color selection in LibreOffice.

Template Changer (for Writer)
Adds two new items to the File → Send menu in Writer that allow you to 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. This is extremely useful if you want to create one document using a template for a print book and then create a copy of it for use with another template such as for an Ebook.

It is important to use version 1.7 and not 1.6. Version 1.2.6 loads into the Tools, Extension Manager, Add. But it does not display the menu item even after restarting the computer. Thankfully, version 1.2.7 works very well. The link to downloading the new version is here:

https://numbertext.org/tmp/template-changer-1.2.7b.oxt

Here is what your Libre Writer menu will look like after installing the Template Changer.

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Use History Master to Increase the Number of Recent Documents
When you first open Libre Writer, it is common to look through a list of Recent Documents to find one you recently worked on and would like to use again. This list is found by going to File, Recent Documents. By default, the maximum number of Recent Documents stored in Libre Writer is ten. Thankfully, there is a simple extension that allows you to increase the number of documents in Recent Documents to whatever you want. To get this extension, go to:
https://extensions.services.openoffice.org/project/HistoryMaster.

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Like nearly all Open Office extensions, History Manager also works with Libre Office. Click on Get It to download it. Then save the extension to your Downloads folder. To install this extension, go to Tools, Extension Manager and click on the ADD button. Then browse to the extension to select it.

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Accept the terms. This puts the History Manager in the Active Extensions folder.

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While we are here, we will also add two more extensions from the LibreOffice extensions manager. These are called Open Clip Art and EPC – which is a flow chart creator. Next, close all documents and close LibreOffice. Then restart LibreOffice Writer and go to Tools, Add Ons, History Manager.

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Change the List Size from 10 to 20 so you can have more files in your list of Recent Files. Then click on Apply Changes and wait for one minute. Then close History Manager. It will take a while for your list of recent documents to increase. But each time you open and close a document with LibreOffice, History Manager will add it to the Recent Documents list. History Manager also add a new menu item to the File List called Recent Documents of the same Type.

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What's Next
This completes our customization of LibreOffice Writer.In the next section, we will review how to create your own custom templates for your LibreOffice Writer documents.   
In this section we will review how to create your own custom template – which can then be used as a model for creating all of your future documents.

A Look at the Default Template
Libre Office Writer comes with a predefined template which cannot be easily changed. It can be found by going to Tools, Options, LibreOffice Writer, Basic Fonts.

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The problem with this is that it is not a real template. A real template would allow us to set the page margins, footers, headers, image properties and dozens other formatting decisions. In order to control all of these settings, we need to create our own custom template.

Create your own custom template
A template is a special document which is used as a pattern for creating other documents. To create a new blank template, click on File, New, Text Document to open a new blank page. We can turn any document into a template by clicking on File, Templates, Save as Template.

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This brings up the Template Manager. By default, there are 8 categories of templates. However, three of the categories do not have any templates in them. Click on My Templates to place our new custom template in this category. Then click Save.
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Give your new template a name and click OK. So far, our template is the same as the default template in Tools, Options, Libre Writer Fonts. To further define our new custom template, click on File, Templates, Manage. This brings up the Template Manager again - only now our new template is shown:

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Click on My Template to select it.
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This brings up a series of options. We will edit this template in a minute First, to make it the default template for all of our new documents, click on Set as default. Then click on Edit.

While Libre Writer works better than MS Word even with no changes, there are many steps you can take to improve the appearance and performance of Libre Writer. In this article, we will show you how to get the most out of Libre Writer. Just as we made several changes to improve the appearance and performance of Linux Mint, we will review simple steps you can take to make Libre Writer even easier to use.

Simplify the Libre Office Writer Main Menu
The first step in simplifying Libre Writer is to edit the main menu. Below is the default menu of Libre Writer. It looks very plain and intimidating. Before we begin changing the top menu, we should first outline the four rows in the top menu.

Title Bar, Main Menu, Standard Toolbar and Formatting Toolbar
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The blue top row is the title bar. The second row with words is the menu bar. The third row is the standard tool bar and the fourth row is the formatting tool bar.
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In a previous article, we changed the color of Title bar by clicking on Menu, Control Center, Appearances, Themes.
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Simplify the Main Menu
The second row is the Main Menu. It has nine menu items which work in almost the same way as Word 2003. We can eliminate any of the items in the drop down menus if we feel we do not need them. For example, the File Menu item has a huge submenu.

Microsoft Word tends to treat all documents as if they were simple documents. It is like trying to build a house with only a hammer and a saw. Libre Office also includes the hammer and saw. But it also provides you with a set of blueprints for organizing the construction process and a whole team of specialists for doing the foundation, framing, drywall, plumbing and electrical tasks.

No matter what type of document you are writing, Libre Writer is better than Microsoft Word. Even if MS Office were free, you would still be better off using Libre Office. But the truth is that MS Office is not free. In fact, it is very expensive. The complete version, with Publisher costs nearly $600. In this section, we will first review several different categories of documents and then describe specific benefits of using Libre Writer over Microsoft Word.

LibreOffice Writer is similar to MS Word 2003
On first impression, the Libre Office Writer menu looks very similar to the MS Word 2003 menu. This is in itself a benefit because hundreds of millions of people around the world use the Windows XP operating system with MS Word 2003 to create and edit their documents. You should install and learn Libre Office because, on April 8 2014, Microsoft ended support for both Windows XP and MS Office 2003. Microsoft is hoping that killing the Windows XP computers will force XP users to shell out hundreds of dollars for Windows 8.1 and MS Office – programs that are vastly different from Windows XP and MS Office 2003. Thankfully, there is another option. Just install the free program Linux Mint Mate – which comes with Libre Office already installed. Problem solved!

LibreOffice Writer also has Better Tools for creating complex documents
While LibreOffice Writer looks similar to MS Word 2003, there is much more to it! In fact, LibreOffice Writer offers a whole range of tools to create complex documents that are not present on any version of MS Word. To understand how Libre Writer is better than MS Word, we will first cover four different types of documents and then describe several benefits to show how Libre Writer is much better than Word for creating complex documents like 400 page books.

Four Types of Documents
Microsoft Word treats pretty much all documents the same. But LibreOffice comes with different levels of tools for different kinds of documents. Although there is some overlap, documents can be divided into roughly four categories:

Simple Documents like articles under 10 pages in length.
Complex Documents like chapters under 50 pages in length.
Multilevel Books like Print on Demand books under 400 pages in length.
Websites and Ebooks – which are the same length as a multilevel book but which have several additional characteristics.

Different Types of Documents require Different Kinds of Tools
When writing a complex four hundred page book, one of the biggest problems any prospective author runs into is trying to keep their book organized. It is important to understand that different types of documents require different kinds of organizational strategies and different kinds of tools. Below is a table outlining four different types of documents and strategies for creating and organizing each of them. This is followed by a brief discussion of each type of document.

The good news about changing our operating system from Chrome to Linux Mint is that the amount of free space on our SSD rose from 202 GB to 220 GB. The bad news is that our touchpad might no longer work and some of the function keys on our keyboard might not work. There also might be a problem with the cursor jumping around making it difficult to type. In this article, we will explain how to fix all of these problems.

Take a Screenshot with Linux Mint
To take a screenshot of your entire screen with a Chromebook, press the Ctrl key and the Box key at the same time:

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To take a screen shot of part of the screen with a Chromebook, we need to also press the Shift key.

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The Box function key no longer works after switching to Linux Mint. There is a better alternative to this key that only take a few minutes to set up. Since we want to take screen shots of how to set up Linux Mint, we will begin by adding a free screen capture tool called Shutter. Here is the initial desktop for Linux Mint:

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Click on the Mint Menu in the lower left corner of the Mint desktop. There are two versions of the Mint Menu. The first version is called Favorites:

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Click on All Applications in the upper right corner to see a list of all of the default applications that come with Linux Mint.

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Linux Mint comes with a screen capture tool called Take Screenshot. This is not a very versatile screen capture tool. We will add a much better screen capture tool called Shutter. To add this free tool, click on the Software Manager in the first column of the Mint Menu. Enter your password. Assuming you have Internet access, the following screen will come up:

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There are more than 73,000 free programs in the Mint Software Manager. Type the word shutter into the search box. Then press Enter on your keyboard.

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Click on Shutter to reach the Shutter installation screen:

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It will say that Shutter is not installed. Click install to install it. Then close the Software Manager and open the Mint Menu.

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Right click on Shutter. Then click Add to Panel.

This will add the blue Shutter icon to the bottom panel. Click on Shutter to open it.

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You can use Selection to capture a portion of your desktop, Desktop to capture the whole screen, Window to capture a window or the Menu icon to capture a menu. Click on Edit Preferences to bring up the Shutter Preferences screen:

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Change the Image format to Jpeg. You can also define the folder you want to send the image to and the delay before the screen shot is taken. To capture an area of your desktop, click on the word Preferences. Then drag the cursor from the upper left corner of the area you want to capture to the lower right corner. The image will then be captured after the delay and placed in the clipboard. To capture a complex dropdown menu, click on the Menu Item. Below is an example of shutter capturing a complex menu.

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You can also edit captured images by clicking on Edit. This is what the image looks like after adding some arrows and text to clarify where a person should click to open the Template Manager.

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The one problem of images captured by Shutter is that the image will have a very large file size. After pasting the image in a Libre Writer document, right click on the image and click on Compress, then click Okay to reduce the file size.

Install the Update Manager
In the lower right corner of our Mint desktop bottom panel is an icon for the Update Manager. To install the new update manager, click on this blue shield.

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Click Install Updates. Then enter your password. When done, there will be a screen with more updates:

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Click Install Updates again. It will end by saying your system is up to date.

Fix the Screen Saver

Another nagging problem is that if you stop working on your Chromebook for even 5 minutes, it will log you out and require that you log yourself back in. To fix this problem, click on the Mint Menu, then click on the Control Center, then click on Screensaver.

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Change the theme to Cosmos. Change the idle to 2 hours. Then uncheck Lock Screen
Then click Power Management.

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Change Lid Closed to Shutdown. Change Inactive to Never. Change brightness to 70%.
Then click the Battery Power tab.

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Change lid closed to shutdown. Change battery low to shutdown. Change sleep to 1 hour. Then click Close. Change Desktop Settings.. uncheck computer.

Change your Desktop Theme

To change the “theme” used to display open Windows. Click on the Appearance Preferences Theme tab:

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Click Customize.

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Change Controls tab to Mint X Blue. Change Window border toWin Me and Icons Blue folder.

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Add a Custom Desktop Background Image
Our next task is to install a custom desktop background image. One of the most important ways to personalize your computer is to install your favorite images to see when your computer first turns on. This can be an image of your family or anything else you like. With Windows XP and Windows 7, it was very easy to change the background image. However, with Windows 8, it is very difficult. Luckily, Linux Mint Mate has a wonderful system for adding any of thousands of background images to your desktop – including your own personal images. To install a new background image, click on Control Center in the main menu.

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Click on Appearance. Then click on the Background tab. Wait one minute for the background options to load.

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There are about one dozen background images here. But there are thousands more you can get by clicking on the link: Get more backgrounds online: https://gnome-look.org/

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There are 139 pages of backgrounds or over 1400 choices. You can also create your own images 1920 pixels wide by 1080 high. Be sure to optimize the file size to keep it under 100KB. Then upload it to your Downloads folder. When selecting a new desktop image, make sure that there are not a lot of graphics on the left side of the image as this is where we will be placing our desktop quick link icons. To get an image, click on GO. Then right click on the image and choice Save Image As. This brings up your Mint Mate Downloads folder. Change the name of the image to something more descriptive and click Save.
After downloading all of the images you want to the Mate Downloads folder, exit Firefox browser to go back to the Appearances Preferences Background screen and click Add. By default, Mate looks in your Pictures folder to see if there are any images. Click on Backgrounds in the left column above. This is where the default background images are kept. You can also use one of your own images by clicking on Add. Here is what our desktop looks like after changing the background to a College in the Clouds image.

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Screen brightness control tool
By default, Linux Mint comes with the screen brightness set for 100%. Reducing screen brightness can reduce eye strain and increase battery life. Sadly, the Chrome keyboard screen brightness keys do not work with Mint – and the Mint screen brightness tool in the Mint Control Panel may not work. We will therefore add a screen brightness control tool to the bottom panel. Place your cursor in the bottom panel and right click. Then click Add to Panel. This will bring up a list of tools we can add to the bottom panel.

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Select the Brightness applet. Then click Add. This will add a sun icon to the bottom panel. Click on it to open it. A slider will appear allowing you to set the brightness of the screen for whatever is most comfortable for your eyes.

Fix Keyboard Mouse Cursor Jumping

Turning on the touch pad can cause the mouse to jump unexpectedly while typing. A nagging problem in writing articles with Libre Writer is that the pointer and screen and scroll bar all tend to jump around if you have a sensitive touch pad. This is not the fault of Libre Writer. Instead, it is an issue with how Linux Mint handles the touch pad on your keyboard.We want the touch pad to be completely off to keep the pointer from accidentally jumping. If you use a mouse like I do, you have two options. The easiest way to stabilize your pointer is to open the Control Center in your Mint Menu and click on the Mouses Icon which is in the Hardware section.

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This brings up the Mouse Preferences window.

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Click on the Touchpad tab and then check “Disable touchpad while typing.” This will keep the touch pad off while you are typing and about two seconds after you stop typing.

Add a Free Touch Pad Control Tool
Unfortunately, for many of us, this is not good enough. We need the touch pad to be completely off to keep the pointer from accidentally jumping. To get a better tool to control the touchpad, click on the Software Center which is also in the Mint Menu. Then type in “gpointing-device-settings” in the Search Box. This will bring up two results. The i386 version is for 32 bit computers and the unmarked version is for x64 bit computers.
Select the x64 bit version.

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Click install. This adds a new entry to the Control Center called Pointing Devices. First click on Mouse Preferences and turn off “Disable Touchpad while typing” as the Mouse settings override the Pointer settings.

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Then click on the Pointer icon to bring up the Gpointing Device Settings Window.
Click Elan Touchpad. Then click Disable while other devices are connected.”

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Then click OK. Your touch pad will now stay off for as long as your computer is turned on.

Change the time from 24 hours to 12 hours
In the lower right corner of your Chromebook is a digital clock. Unfortunately, the time is set for 24 hours. To change it to 12 hour (AM/PM), right click on the time. Then click on Preferences. Then change the format to 12 hours.

Set Libre Office as Default Editor
The default text editor for Linux Mint, which is called Pluma, does not have very many editing options. If you open the Mint File manager and right click in the workspace to create a new document, Linux Mint will open a text Editor called Pluma:

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We would rather have the Mint file manager open Libre Writer because this is the world's best text editor.To make this change, go to Control Center, Personal, Preferred Applications, System tab, set Text Editor for Libre Office.

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Now open the file manager and right click on the workspace and select Create Document, Empty File. Then click on the new file to open it. It should now open in Libre Writer.

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Add your printer to Linux Mint
To install your printer on Linux Mint is usually a pretty simple matter. First connect your printer to the USB port on your Chromebook. Then go to Control Center, Printers.
Then click on Printers.

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Then click ADD. Select the printer you want to use.

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Click Forward. Linux Mint will search for a driver for this printer Click Forward again. Then click Apply. Then print a test page. Then click OK. Congratulations! You now have your printer hooked up to your Chromebook thanks to Linux Mint.