Authored by Dave Mallisk in Computer Software
Published on 09-23-2009
You can use OOo (OpenOffice.org) Writer (a word-processor application) to write useful, well-formatted manuals and other documents. Although OOo is not as powerful as Microsoft Office, it is a free productivity suite that includes several other excellent applications. For more information, see OpenOffice.org
After downloading and installing OOo, you can use the procedures below to write a sample manual that serves as a basis for other manuals. While writing your sample manual, you need use only some OOo Writer features. For details about all OOo Writer features, see OOo Writer Help.
Making Initial OOo Writer Settings
To make initial OOo Writer settings, do the following:
- Use “Programs -> OpenOffice.org” to display the list of OOo applications.
- Click on the Writer icon to start OOo Writer and display a blank page (New OpenDocument Text.odt).
- Click on “View” to display its drop-down menu, and then click on various View menu settings to select (checkmark) them exactly as shown below.
- Use “Format -> Page” to display the Page Style Default window, click on the “Page” tab, and then make settings exactly as shown below.
- Click on the Footer tab, select (checkmark) “Footer on,” and then click “OK” to close the Page Style Default window.
- Place your cursor on the footer, and then use “Insert -> Fields -> Page Number” to number all pages automatically.
- Click on the Center icon to center the page number field.
- Use “File -> Save As” to change your document file name to SampleManual.odt.
Note: While writing any document, frequently click on the Save icon to save your work.
Formatting Paragraphs and Text
You can format text by either applying a style to its paragraph, or by selecting text and then formatting it directly.
Formatting Body Text – To format body text, do the following:
- Place your cursor at the top of the page, and then press the “Enter” key several times to display multiple paragraph marks for empty default (Default-style) paragraphs.
- Select all empty paragraphs, click on “Format,” and then click on “Styles and Formatting” to display its menu.
- Double-click on “Text body” to reformat all selected paragraphs from default to body text as shown below.
- Place your cursor at the last body-text paragraph, and then Press the “Enter” key multiple times to add more body-text paragraphs.
Adding and Formatting Title Text – To add and format a title, do the following:
- Place your cursor at the first body-text paragraph.
- Type “Sample Manual Title,” and then select (highlight) that text.
- On the Formatting tool bar as shown below, change the font size to 28 points, make the text bold, and then center it.
- Place your cursor several paragraphs below the title, and then use “Insert -> Manual Break – > Page Break” to start a new page after the tile page (cover page).
Leaving several empty paragraphs below the title lets you later insert other items, such as a logo and a Table of Contents.
Formatting Headings – To format headings, format their paragraphs as follows:
- Place your cursor at the topmost paragraph marker on the new page, and then type “First Level-1 Heading (Introduction).”
- Click on “Format,” and then click on “Styles and Formatting” to display its menu.
- Double-click on “Heading 1″ to format your first level-1 heading as shown below.
- Type at least one sentence into the paragraph immediately below your first level-1 heading.
- Use Heading 1 through 3 paragraph styles to format your other level-1 through -3 headings.
As detailed in the completed sample manual:
- Type at least one paragraph after each heading.
- If you use subheadings, you must use at least two subheadings.
- If you have only one subheading you must either eliminate it or promote it one level higher level.
Reformatting a Paragraph Style
If you do not like any particular paragraph style, you can change it by reformatting it. For example, if you think the Heading 3 style is too similar to the Heading 1 style, you can change it as follows:
- Right-click on any level-3 heading to display its drop-down menu.
- Click on “Edit Paragraph Style” to display its window.
- Change the font from Ariel to Times New Roman, and then click “OK” to reformat all level-3 headings and close the Paragraph Style window.
Adding a Picture
To add a picture, do the following:
- Place your cursor at the end of the paragraph that is immediately above where you wish to add a picture, and then press “Enter” to create a new paragraph.
- Click on the Center icon to center the paragraph.
- Click on “Insert” to display its drop-down menu.
- Use “Picture -> From File” to display the Insert Picture window.
- Navigate to the file name of the picture you wish to add, select it, and then click on “Open” to add the picture and close the Insert Picture window. As shown below, you can type text directly below the picture.
Note: You can also use the above procedure to add a logo to the title page.
Adding a Table
To add a table, do the following:
- Place your cursor at the end of the paragraph that is immediately above where you wish to add a table, and then press “Enter” to create a new paragraph.
- Click on “Table” to display its drop-down menu, click on “Insert,” and then click on “Table” to display the Insert Table window.
- Select how many Columns and Rows you want, and then click “OK” to create the table and close the Insert Table window.
- Place your cursor within the table, and then use “Table -> Table Properties” to format it.
Adding a Table of Contents
To add a table of contents, do the following:
- On the title page, below the title or logo, place your cursor at the paragraph where you wish to add your table of contents.
- Click on “Insert” to display its drop-down menu, and then click on “Indexes and Tables” (twice) to display the Insert Index/Table window.
- Click “OK” to create the table of contents and close the Insert Index/Table window.