OpenOffice Writer in 5 Minutes
Desktop Apps Training - Writer

The purpose of this section is to provide the reader with a 5 minute review of Writer's most used aspects to get you going as quickly as possible. The Writer area is simply where you will perform most of the real work in creating a document. Writer provides help for the user in intuitive icons on the toolbars.


This is the first aspect of using Writer quickly, view the icons and consider what the image conveys as a means of getting to needed resources and changes fast. For example in the above image you see that one of the ABC icons has a box around it, which means that it is currently in use. In addition, ABC suggests spelling. What this icon is trying to tell you is that the automatic spell checker is running. Use the icons for quick reference. An interesting note is that the objection of some users to converting to OpenOffice is that it is like learning a new program all over again. However, though OpenOffice does have differences from other word processors the icons are almost universal and most users can convert to OpenOffice do perform basic tasks with little or no help.


There are three bars that you will notice quickly, the Menu Bar (text links), the Tool Bar (icons to do things) and the Object Bar (ways to change objects, like fonts, colors, etc.). The second part of the Object Bar is the formatting that you may use on the text that is under construction. The Object Bar covers bold, italic, underlining, justification, numbering, bullets and indentation. The small arrow at the end allows you to configure which icons are visible.



Modify your toolbar to add and subtract icons that you will use. Choose View-Toolbars-Customize and you then will be able to select the icons which represent most used features for you. Start with the Standard toolbar and modify it first. Uncheck those features you do not use and check the ones you do use. This makes changes much quicker.


The Menu Bar (the bar that is just text) shows you the commands that are available for each document. Each command has a number of options located within it. For example you see below the options that come when you select “Format”.


The most used feature on Writer is the Format Option. Spend a few minutes practicing with this option as most of the things you will want to do to a document will be found here. Format characters, paragraphs, bullets, pages etc.



Understand Toolbars, Menu Bars, Title Bars

The Title Bar lists the current document that is open.


Untitled means that it has not been saved yet. When OpenOffice 3 saves a document it will be given a .odt extension. One common extension of documents is the “.doc” extension which comes from Microsoft Word documents. Because this is a Writer document and not a Word document, it will have a different extension. However, even with a different extension the documents are compatible.


Just above the text portion of a page is the Ruler which is a Bar that you may view page dimensions and set the tabs. The first example is in inches. Often users will prefer a different system of measurement. This is easy to change by right clicking on the Ruler and choosing from the options.



The Toolbar is a bar that you will use every time you edit or create a document. Be sure to understand its use and configuration as it will enhance your experiences with Writer considerably. Icons have been enhanced to provide a more intuitive selection. A glance is all that is needed to determine what the icon represents. Try each icon on to become very familiar to what each will do.


Notice that at the start of each of these bars there is a series of dots. Click on these dots with the cursor and you will be able to move these bars to become floating or to move anywhere around your document.



The Status Bar, found at the bottom of the page, provides information concerning which page you are modifying out of how many available pages, the viewing percentage and text selection mode. The Status Bar can be changed by right clicking on the appropriate section; for example the viewing percentage can be changed by right clicking where the 100% is and choosing a percentage.

status bar


The Writer interface provides work space for entering text and inserting images into the document. Formatting and editing are easily accomplished to enable you to create the document that you need. Writer has many similarities to other word processors and text editors. If you have ever typed a document you will feel right at home with Writer. Now Writer provides Wizards to get you going quickly. Choose New- Wizards and you will find Wizards for Letters, Faxes, Agendas, Presentations, Web Pages, Document Converters, Euro Converters, Address Data Source, Installing New Dictionaries and Installing Fonts from the Web.