[Tutorial] Automatic functions in Writer - enable / disable

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[Tutorial] Automatic functions in Writer - enable / disable

Postby John_Ha » Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:30 pm

Writer has the capability of making automatic changes as you type. This is very useful for the experienced user, but can be VERY confusing to the less experienced user.

They are covered in detail in the Writer Guide:

- Controlling Writer’s AutoCorrect functions (Chapter 2 - Setting up Writer)
- Using AutoCorrect, Using word completion and Using AutoText (Chapter 3 - Working with Text).

Incidentally, it is very useful to view the non-printing characters with View > Non-Printing Characters ..., as you can then see why the document is doing what it is doing. This is virtually essential to see where the "automatic lines" mentioned below are, and reveals the difference between End of paragraph marks ( ¶ or pilcrow - insert by typing ENTER ) and Line breaks or new line or "soft paragraph returns" ( or backwards arrow - insert by typing SHIFT+ENTER ).

There are three main places from where these automatic functions can be controlled.

1 Format > Autocorrect > While typing ...

Just un-tick While typing and all autocorrects stop as if by magic! That's all you need to do (thanks to acknak).

Note: Once an automatic change has been made, it is permanent. Unticking this (or other option below) only prevents future changes being made - it does not "undo past changes" already made.

If you want some autocorrects and not others, then you need to leave While typing ticked, and look in the following places:

2 Tools > AutoCorrect Options ... controls most of them

There are five tabs and clicking Help when a tab is open describes the items fully. Basically:

Replace: If you type anything in the left column, it is replaced by what is shown in the right column. You can add or delete entries.

You can paste things into the boxes. For example, say you want to type %6h and get it changed to 6♥ (♥ is available by Insert > Special character ...). Type %6h in the Replace box and paste 6♥ into the With box. Every time you type %6h, it will automagically get changed to 6♥.

Note that characters are only replaced when you type a following space, tab or return. If the characters are followed by another character, they are not changed.

Exceptions: These exceptions will NOT be corrected

Options: Press the Help button on the pop-up window to get help for these options.

Note that if you tick Replace dashes here, you do not need a following space to convert " -- " to a long dash - see the Help.

If you tick Apply numbering - symbol ● then you get automatic numbering. Untick it to prevent it happening.

Horizontal lines which suddenly appear and cannot seem to be deleted

Probably the most confusing for many is automatic lines which suddenly appear for no apparent reason and cannot seem to be deleted.

If you have automatic lines enabled then typing three " - ", or three " _ ", or three " = " gives a line.

They are enabled by ticking, and disabled by un-ticking Apply border. Note that un-ticking does not remove existing lines - it just prevents new ones.

The description Apply border actually explains what it does because when you tick Apply border, and you type (for example) three dashes at the beginning of a new line, Writer creates a paragraph border below the paragraph in question. This looks like a line and quacks like a line, but it is a border to the paragraph above.

See the file borders.odt below for examples of automatically created borders (below) and manually created borders (above).


The only way to remove a border after it has appeared is to work with the paragraph(s) containing the border(s).

Always remember that while automatic applied borders are below the paragraph, other borders could be a 'border above the paragraph', or a 'border below the paragraph'. Be sure to switch on View > Non printing characters ..., so you can see what you are doing. So either:

- select the paragraph(s) containing the border (the border could be above or below the paragraph mark) and go Format > Paragraph > Borders > None ..., which removes the border; or
- select the paragraph(s) containing the border (the border could be above or below the paragraph mark) and go Format > Default formatting ..., which removes all formatting including the paragraph border.

Another method is to highlight the text before and after, so including the unwanted border line. Cut the text (ctrl+X). Now paste it back unformatted with Edit > Paste Special > Unformatted text. The border will have been removed.

 Edit: Dec 2016: There appears to be a problem with AOO 4.1.3 where you cannot remove borders on a selection of paragraphs. You either have to do just one paragraph at a time, or select all the paragraphs in the document. 

Typing other characters gives different paragraph borders - lines - as shown here: (thanks to Mr Programmer for the image)

lines.png (49.29 KiB) Viewed 7051 times

Localised options: This one converts 1st to 1st where the st is a superscript. It also allows you to type straight quotes "xx" and have them changed automatically to curly quotes “xx”.

Word completion: Writer can collect long words, and when you have typed enough characters so that Writer knows what the word must be, Writer will complete the word for you.

3 Tools > Options ... also controls some of them

For example, Tools > Options > OpenOffice Writer > Table > Input in tables ... controls whether numbers you type in a table cell are recognised as numbers, not characters, and formatted accordingly. Alternatively, if you want to affect only one table, then right-click inside that table, and tick or un-tick Number recognition. Similarly, Tools > Options > Language Settings > Writing Aids > Options ... controls some more. Also, see Help for more information.

The Writer FAQ has a set of answers Writer FAQ - Automatic Functions which give much useful information.

And, of course, the up to date Writer guide and/or the OOo v3.3 Writer Manual have much useful information.

 Edit: With thanks to acknak and Mr Programmer for suggestions 

NB AutoHotKey is a simple, but extremely powerful tool which recognises text the user types and replaces it with pre-defined text or commands. It works in all applications and web pages and you can download a file of common typos and common spelling errors (you can add your own idiosyncratic mistypes and spelling howlers to it) so that words are corrected as they are typed. "My" spelling has improved immensely since I started using it. :super:
A test file with automatic borders added
(9.7 KiB) Downloaded 328 times
Last edited by John_Ha on Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:13 am, edited 17 times in total.
LO, Windows 10 Home 64 bit

See the Writer Guide, the Writer FAQ, the Writer Tutorials and Writer for students.

Remember: Always save your Writer files as .odt files. - see here for the many reasons why.
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Re: [Tutorial] Automatic functions in Writer - enable / disa

Postby wdc » Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:25 am

Wow. Much to read. Thanks. ... wdc
OpenOffice 4.1.1 for Windows in English/ W8.1 (with Firefox)
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:34 pm

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