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.
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.
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.
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:
Click on My Template to select it.
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.
This will open something which looks just like a blank Writer document. But instead of an ODT extension at the end of the file name, it will have an OTT extension. This ending extension tells us that this is a template and not a normal Writer document. To define the page width and margins on our custom template, go to Format, Page. Then click on the Page tab.
If you are writing a book or an ebook, it is important to set the correct page width at the beginning because this also determines the maximum image size. The default page has very small margins of 0.79 inches. Subtracting twice this amount from the page width of 8.5 inches leaves a text area of about 6.9 inches. Most simple documents have a margins of one inch and a text area of 6.5 inches. We will therefore set this template for 1 inch side margins and .6 inches on the top and bottom. Then click Apply. Then click OK.
Later, we will create a template called My Book Template which has narrower margins. Most ebook readers have a screen width of 6 inches and most books also have a text area of 6 inches. Therefore if we want to use Libre Writer to create books and ebooks, we should create a template withleft and right margins set for 1.25 inches. This will result in a text area of 6 inches. We should also increase the top and bottom page margins to 1.00 inches. This will result in a page height of 9 inches.
Set the Image Style
The default image style when new images are added to a Libre Writer document is to align them to the right. We can just click on each image and change them one at a time to align Centered. But this takes a lot of time and effort. We can change this by changing the template setting for our images. Click on Format, Styles and Formatting.
Then click on the third box, called Frame Styles. Then right click Graphics. Then click Modify. Click on Type and change the Position Horizontal Alignment from Left to Center. Then click the Wrap tab. Increase the left and right spacing to .10 inches. Then click OK. Then close the Styles and Formatting window.
Hide the Right Side Panel
By default, Libre Writer displays a panel on the right side of the document. The only important icon in this group is the Styles and Formatting icon. We have added this icon to the Formatting tool bar. We therefore can hide this side panel by clicking on black box at the top of the panel, then clicking on Close Sidebar.
Add Custom Styles to your Custom Template (versus manual formatting)
With simple documents, a common way to modify any text is by using the manual icons in the Formatting Toolbar at the top of the page. For example, to change the subject title to bold, you would first select it and then click on the bold icon. The problem with manual formatting is that if you ever want to change the font type, font size or color of your subject titles, you would need to go through the entire document and make the changes manually – one at a time. This can be a nightmare if your document is 50 pages long. A better faster and more consistent way to control formatting is by using “Styles” to change any selected text.
We will cover styles in more detail in the next section – because styles are essential for creating complex documents. Here we will simply create a couple of custom styles to add to your custom template as a way to help you get started on using style formatting instead of manual formatting. To create custom styles in our custom template, we first need to open our custom template by going to File, Templates, Manage, then clicking on the template to select it. Then click on Edit. To bring up the Styles Window in the template, click on Format, Styles and Formatting. We will format Heading 2 to use with our template. But first, we want to “dock” the Styles Window to the left side of our template workspace. To do this, grab the top of the window with your pointer and hold down your pointer to drag it to the left side of the screen until your pointer is right at the edge of the screen. When you see the guide shadow turn on, release the pointer and the Style Window will snap in place.
To see the Heading styles, click on the arrow to the left of the word Heading.
In the next chapter we will work more with the various types of styles. But for now, we will customize a “hierarchical” style called Heading 2. We will use Heading 2 to create our Document, Article, and Section Titles. Then we will use a similar process with Heading 1 to create our Chapter Titles. To modify the Heading 2 style, click on it to select it. Then right click and select “Modify.” This brings up the Paragraph Style Heading 2 Edit Window.
We will first change the font. So click on the Font tab.
Heading 2 is currently set for Bold 115%. This means Heading 2 will be 15% bigger than our Default font size which is 12 point. This is not much bigger than 13 point. Change it to Bold, 14 point. Type 14 point into the Size window and the options will magically change from Percent to Font Size. Then click Apply. Next click on the Indents and Spacing tab.
Change Before Text indent to zero and First Line Indent to zero. Also reduce Above Paragraph spacing to Point One inches and increase Below Paragraph Spacing to Point Zero Six inches.
Then click Apply. Then click OK. Next, click on Heading 1, then right click and select Modify. Change Heading 1 to Bold 16 point. Click on the Indent and Spacing tab and change these to match the Heading 2 settings except reduce the Below Paragraph setting to zero. Also change the font color to blue and make it underline. Then click Apply and OK. Then close the Styles and Formatting Sidebar.
Create a File Reminder
Our final task is to create a reminder that the first step in creating a new document is giving the document a title, then giving it a file name by copying and pasting it into a folder. Below this we will type in a first subject title and a brief first sentence and make it Heading 1. We will then select the title paragraph reminder and make it Heading 2. Below this we will have a paragraph set for the Default Paragraph style. We can use the Default Style Window Drop Down arrow to choose the Heading style after selecting the text:
Click File Saveto save these changes to our custom template. Then File Close. Now on any open Writer document, click File, New, Text Document to create a new document. To give this document a file name, select the title text and replace it with your title.
To save this new document, select the title, then copy it. Then click on File, Save. Then select the folder you want to put the document in. Below we have selected the Desktop. But in general, we want to place documents inside of the Documents Folder. We can create category folders inside of the Documents folder if we want and place the document there.
Once the correct folder is chosen, paste the title name into the “Name” box and click Save. As you enter text on your new document, each time you enter a new subject title, just select it and instead of clicking on the Bold icon, click on Heading 2 instead. This way if you ever want to change the font on all of your subject title headings to a different color, all you need to do is change the font color on Heading 2. We now have our first custom template and our first document.
This completes our basic introduction to using Libre Writer. If you are interested in creating your own Print Book or Ebook, you should consider reading our complete book on this topic called Create and Publish Your Own Book... With Libre Writer & IngramSpark In this book, we go into more detail on creating a Master document and Table of Contents as well as creating custom styles for your print book and ebook.
In the next chapter, we will review how to use Libre Office Draw to create a custom diagram and how to use Libre Office Calc to create a custom chart. Then we review how to use Libre Office Impress to create a custom presentation.