When to set page size and margins

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When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Thu May 17, 2018 8:43 pm

Hello! This is my first post in the forum!

I'm just getting started with OpenOffice Writer. I'm about halfway
through reading a PDF file that explains how to use Writer, intended
for university students. So far I don't see any indication that the
question I'm about to ask is answered in it.

It seems to me that one of the very first things that needs to be done
when starting a new document is to specify the page size. In some
preliminary testing with text from someone else's Word document, I
thought I had set the page size for the entire document, then found
that the size of pages in chapter 2 and beyond were still the standard
letter size, 8.5" x 11". I imagine that is because I specified where the
chapters begin before specifying the page size.

When taking text from an existing Word document to continue working
on it in OpenOffice Writer, exactly when should I specify the page size
so that it applies to the entire document?

When should I specify the margins?

Can I specify different margins for some pages?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Thu May 17, 2018 8:53 pm

When you set the page sizes in an existing file, the settings of page size do not trickle down from Default page style to the other page styyles. In that case you need to check and adjust the settings for each page style used or to be used.

If, when you open a new, blank, file, you immediately set the page size and margins, the page size will trickle down to the other page styles, but the margins will not. I have not checked the other parameters, but I would suspect they do not trickle down.

As there are only ten predefined page styles, it is not a great burden to verify the page size and margins for each.

You can set different margin and other parameters for every page style. At any time you can change page size, margins and other parameters, but always on a page style by page style basis.

It can be helpful to always use /Format /Styles and Formatting (F11 key) to make changes to the master styles and formatting. The display in that window can be restricted to the styles actually used by selecting "Applied styles" from the dropdown in its bottom bar and switched also to other selection choices.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby John_Ha » Thu May 17, 2018 11:21 pm

If only others would also read some documentation before jumping in and trying to guess how AOO works!

The page size can be set or changed at any time. You have your text, tables, bullets, images etc, which is the document content. AOO fits it to whatever page size you specify. That being said it is probably simplest to set the page size first because that helps you to see what any individual page will look like. See Chapter 4 in the manual. See the tutorial because MS Word and AOO use different conventions for page margins and headers and footers.

As a new poster you will find much useful information in the Writer FAQ, the Writer Tutorials, the up to date Writer guide and the Writer Manual. May I suggest you bookmark the pages.

Press F1 to access the Help screen and search for your problem

The chapter headings in the manual are:

1 - Introducing Writer
2 - Setting up Writer
3 - Working with Text
4 - Formatting Pages
5 - Printing, Exporting, Faxing and E-Mailing
6 - Introduction to Styles
7 - Working with Styles
8 - Working with Graphics
9 - Working with Tables
10 - Working with Templates
11 - Using Mail Merge
12 - Tables of Contents, Indexes and Bibliographies
13 - Working with Master Documents
14 - Working with Fields
15 - Using Forms in Writer
16 - Customizing Writer – Keyboard shortcuts.

When a pop-up window opens, click the Help button for extensive help on that function - it is often more comprehensive than the manual.

See [Tutorial] Differences between Writer and MS Word files for why you should always work in and save files as .odt.

See [Tutorial] Some useful hints on using images for a discussion on how best to handle images in Writer.

See [Tutorial] Automatic functions in Writer - enable / disable
Last edited by John_Ha on Mon May 21, 2018 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Fri May 18, 2018 4:37 am

Thanks to you both!

> It can be helpful to always use /Format /Styles and Formatting (F11 key)
> to make changes to the master styles and formatting.

Could you explain this just a little bit, to give an overall idea of why this
is the way to do it? Maybe starting with what you mean by "master styles
and formatting". What is included in or excluded from that category?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby robleyd » Fri May 18, 2018 5:57 am

Follow the link John_Ha gave above for the Writer Manual; on that page you will find links to Ch6 - Introduction to Styles and Ch7 - Working with Styles
Cheers
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Fri May 18, 2018 9:04 am

Jeff Root wrote:Could you explain this just a little bit, to give an overall idea of why this
is the way to do it? Maybe starting with what you mean by "master styles
and formatting". What is included in or excluded from that category?


What I mean by "master styles" are the basic styles of a document which define how it is formatted. If these are modified by using the facilities offered by the /Format menu or the Sidebar you are applying "Direct formatting", which changes only the text selected at the time of that application. The direct formatting overrides the formatting applied by the underlying style, so that if you change the style definitions, say to use a larger font, that may not echo through to the directly formatted text. It is best to use style formatting and avoid direct formatting as much as possible. A number of ways exist to change the main styles - I always advise /Format /Styles and formatting rather than any of the others.

An example of why one should use styles: writing a book: you may be content to write so that it prints using 12 pt type on standard paper (Letter/A4). You want to give a copy to your grandmother to read so she can check family facts. Granny is elderly and her sight is not too good, so you want to change the size of the type used. You also wish to double space the lines so that she can enter corrections. Using Styles, this is simple: an adjustment to the paragraph style used (larger font, double spaced lines) and you can print out a copy for her. Direct formatting may require you to make these changes to every paragraph of the document.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Fri May 18, 2018 3:39 pm

Thanks! That actually helps.

I am indeed beginning to work on the layout of a book. Written by my
neighbor who is 87 years old. His wife fact-checked and spell-checked it
in both English and Norwegian. She just had cataract surgery this week.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby jrkrideau » Fri May 18, 2018 4:21 pm

Jeff Root wrote:Thanks! That actually helps.

I am indeed beginning to work on the layout of a book.
-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


I recommend sketching out how you want the book to appear and "carefully" construct a book template with all the various styles defined before you even load the text. Never hard-format anything!

Since it is a bilingual book I would suggest that you have matching paragraph and character Styles for English and Norwegian to allow for spellchecking or any formatting differences you may want. It can also help for editing as you can colour code the paragraphs / words while working.

Don't forget to check if your neigbour is writing in Bokmäl or Nynorsk.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Fri May 18, 2018 8:29 pm

Are you formatting a parallel text?
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Sat May 19, 2018 6:55 pm

The book only has a few short quotes in Norwegian. Otherwise the
Norwegian is pretty much limited to names of people, places, things,
events, and ideas. My neighbor mentions "Norsk" in the preface, so
I'll have to find out if he misspelled the word and his wife missed it.
My guess is that the "y" you included is optional. But he also says
he has a Norwegian dictionary which he considers authoritative --
maybe gospel -- so that will probably decide it.

By the way, I hope the hard returns in my posts don't annoy anyone.
They're intended to be helpful, but I imagine they might not help on
a smart phone with a narrow screen, and I recognize how ironic they
may seem in a forum about a word processor!

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Sat May 19, 2018 7:12 pm

Ah! You said "Nynorsk". I saw the "y" but missed the second "n".
New Norsk. Not to be confused with New York.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Sat May 19, 2018 8:29 pm

If you are using small quotes in Norwegian, you should define Character Styles and possibly Paragraph Styles for these, whose language is set to the variety of Norwegian you are using. That way they will spellcheck correctly if you select/install a Norwegian dictionary.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby jrkrideau » Sun May 20, 2018 1:12 am

Jeff Root wrote:Ah! You said "Nynorsk". I saw the "y" but missed the second "n".
New Norsk. Not to be confused with New York.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


Ah yes, Nynorsk.

I suspect your author's Norsk is the same thing but my knowing that there are Bokmäl or Nynorsk varients of the language just about exhausts my knowledge of Norwegian. I do know that there are Bokmäl or Nynorsk dictionaries available for AOO.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Sun May 20, 2018 11:59 am

I'll pass on installing a Norwegian dictionary, but that could be
helpful for someone else. I'll trust the author and his wife to get
the Norwegian right far more than I would trust myself with a
spelling checker for a language I can't read.

No way I can know what the book should look like until I actually
lay it out and see the results. Egg lays chicken.

I'm now about 1/4 of the way through reading the Writer manual.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Sun May 20, 2018 1:38 pm

You may find
Writer for students (several languages)

Informative: it is a distillation of the essential content of the manual.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Mon May 21, 2018 12:00 pm

Thanks, Rory. That online guide for students is the same as the PDF
I mentioned near the start of my original post. Very helpful, but I have
yet to comprehend the big picture that the user guides and you are
advocating. It would help if I had two full-size screens side-by-side to
use the program while reading the user guide.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Mon May 21, 2018 4:17 pm

If you read the PDF version of the guide, you can easily have two windows open at once, one on top of the other, and switch between them - there used be (is?) a windows key to do this - possibly Ctrl Tab, but as I haven't used Windows for years I'm not certain.

If you are working on a laptop, most laptops have a connector for a second monitor, as have many later desktop computers and earler desktops with added in video cards.

Almost any old monitor will do; plug it in, power it on, and then start computer; it should be autodetected. You may have to tweak settings a little. Once you have worked with two monitors you'll never go back to one (I use three).
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby John_Ha » Mon May 21, 2018 4:25 pm

Jeff Root wrote:It would help if I had two full-size screens side-by-side to use the program while reading the user guide.

It's why I have a 24" screen.

1. Open the PDF.
2. Drag the Title_bar at the top of window sideways Left until you hit the screen edge - the window resizes to half the screen width
3. Open Writer
4. Drag the Title_bar at the top of window sideways Right until you hit the screen edge - the window resizes to half the screen width

You now have both windows side by side.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Tue May 22, 2018 8:02 am

> Once you have worked with two monitors you'll never go back to one

I've gone from two monitors back to one several times. They died.

> It's why I have a 24" screen.

I used to have a 24" monitor. It was stolen. My current screen is more
than big enough for the Writer window, or the PDF window, but not both
side-by-side. I plan to get a 4K TV. If I can figure out where it will fit.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Tue May 22, 2018 9:43 pm

If you have an old CRT monitor, there is no reason not to use that as a second monitor - often one can find one in a dumpster or be given one by a friend upgrading. The extra screen real estate, even on a small extra monitor, can hold things like the sidebar and allow better use of the main screen.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby keme » Wed May 23, 2018 4:34 am

A bit late, perhaps, but my two bits:
Bit 1: Norwegian.
The Norwegian "Nynorsk" is used by a large minority (estimates range from 15% to 40%). Bokmål is more common. Anyway, short quotes may have some literature (or other) reference, dictating a spelling which is non-standard or obsolete and therefore marked as a mistake by spellcheck. Leaving the Norwegian proofreading to the author couple is probably a good idea.

Differences between Bokmål and Nynorsk are greater than those between US and British English, but not vastly different. Some words have different spelling. Slight variation in grammar. Still largely "mutually intelligible".

Bit 2: Formatting and formats.
You mention some trouble formatting a Word document. This is no surprise. Microsoft Word does not handle the concept of page styles. AOo Writer depends on it. Whenever there is a change in page-level formatting in a Word document, Writer will create one or two new page styles to handle this. Writer's storage format cannot handle Word's way to format pages, and vice versa. Fine tuning a document layout while going back and forth between platforms is a recipe for insanity. At the very least, hairs will be torn from out of your scalp. Do not go there!

As long as you are working on a document which has only been in the "openoffice realm", you won't run into those problems.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Wed May 23, 2018 4:26 pm

Thanks for the helpful info.

I'm not switching back and forth between different word processors. I can
imagine what that would be like! But the text was originally composed in
Word, so I have two options: Either try to convert all the Word formatting
to OpenOffice format, or remove all the existing formatting and start from
scratch, copying the author's formatting by eye. Over 80 pages of text, in
which I will insert about 80 pictures.

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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Villeroy » Wed May 23, 2018 5:06 pm

Save as odt
Remove all the formatting: Ctrl+A, Ctrl+M
Apply the right paragraph styles, manual page breaks and page styles, may be some character style here and there.
Now you may open the new and the old document side by side and modify the applied styles.
Less than an hour if you are familiar with the product you are using. If not, this is almost impossible to do.

You can not add 80 pictures to a document just like that. The document becomes unusable if only 10 of them exceed a certain size and resolution. So you need an image editor which allows you to mass edit pictures. A document can have hundreds of reasonably sized pictures with no problem.
Please, edit this topic's initial post and add "[Solved]" to the subject line if your problem has been solved.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Jeff Root » Wed May 23, 2018 7:44 pm

Villeroy wrote:Save as odt

Naturally.

Villeroy wrote:Remove all the formatting: Ctrl+A, Ctrl+M

Undoing all the author's work, of course, and making a lot more work for me...

Villeroy wrote:Apply the right paragraph styles, manual page breaks and page styles,

It isn't obvious that there needs to be more than one page style. Besides
the main body of the text, there will be the title page, copyright page,
dedication page, acknowledgements, table of contents, bibliography, and
a few other odd pages, but it isn't apparent that any of those would be
improved or made easier by having a different style. Can you explain?

Villeroy wrote:Now you may open the new and the old document side by side and modify
the applied styles. Less than an hour ...

Oh, wow!

Villeroy wrote:... if you are familiar with the product you are using. If not, this is almost
impossible to do.

Oh. Wow. That sounds much closer to reality.

Villeroy wrote:You can not add 80 pictures to a document just like that. The document
becomes unusable if only 10 of them exceed a certain size and resolution.

What??? Huh???

Villeroy wrote:So you need an image editor which allows you to mass edit pictures.

What????? Size the pictures to accommodate limitations of the word
processing program???!!! Hardly!

And what do you mean by "mass edit"? I'm editing the pictures as
needed, one at a time. Some need to be cropped, some cleaned up
to remove speckles and splotches. To limit the cost, the interior will
be black and white, so I'm converting the color images to grayscale,
though I'll have the color versions available in case the printer has
different ideas about how it should be done.

I think I'm safe. I know that five exclamation points in a row is a
sure sign of insanity, but I only used five question marks. Close one!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby John_Ha » Wed May 23, 2018 8:53 pm

See [Tutorial] Some useful hints on using images for a discussion on how best to handle images in Writer.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Wed May 23, 2018 8:59 pm

Jeff Root wrote:It isn't obvious that there needs to be more than one page style. Besides
the main body of the text, there will be the title page, copyright page,
dedication page, acknowledgements, table of contents, bibliography, and
a few other odd pages, but it isn't apparent that any of those would be
improved or made easier by having a different style. Can you explain?


Everytime the header or footer presence or absence changes, or the content of a header/footer changes (other than by use of a built-in field) in OO), you _must_ use a different page style in OO. There is no way out of this. Ignoring Page Styles is perhaps the most common problem for new users of OO.
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby Villeroy » Wed May 23, 2018 9:11 pm

You can not use Writer productively without using styles. This is a restriction and a feature at the same time which makes Writer superior to MS Word if you happen to be a professional writer. For all the other writers without off-the-job training: Use MS Word and perform a thousand of mouse clicks to format 100 pages. I have a collection of hundreds of Word documents, mostly letters and job applications, sent to us during the past 10 years. There is not a single document that is based on a template. Spacing by white space, formatting by select and click. Nobody needs any kind of Word processor to produce formatted text. You need a word processor when you want to merge arbitrary text snippets (e.g. from your keyboard, from web sites or sent by users of MS Word) into a professional document layout and apply your own formattings in a consisten manner.
Professional word processing means that hundreds of office workers are able to produce thousands of documents every day with the same layout, the same style of headings, footnotes, numbering etc. etc.

Right now I'm in the process of doing that with a conglomeration of 90 Word files piling up to a single documentation of approx. 1000 pages. It is a nighmare but not because of OpenOffice. It is a nightmare because there seems to be not a single user of MS Word who knows how to use that software properly.

Nowadays there is even more about using MS Word: https://twitter.com/frank_rieger/status ... 3917957121
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Re: When to set page size and margins

Postby RoryOF » Wed May 23, 2018 9:32 pm

I've just checked a book I have formatted for print. I use Five Page Styles:
My text is set on Default Page Style (with header: on left page number, book title, on right chapter name, page number Arabic numbering)
My Chapters start on a Right Page, so I have defined a Chapter Page style using footer, to carry page number
First Page used for half title and Title page, epigraph, dedication
Obverse page, used for edition details and copyright assertion, no header or footer; also used on the back of dedication page
Preliminaries numbered in lower case Roman, holding Table of Content
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