Tuesday, May 28, 2024

OpenOffice.org Tips and Tricks: Harmonizing With MS Office, Managing Large Complex Documents

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We’ve covered many tips and tricks about working between
OpenOffice.org (OOo) and Microsoft (MS) Office, however now we’ll
address the formatting issues experienced when converting between the
two formats. We’ll give you a few ways to make your documents
convert better, so you can share your work with those who only use MS
Office. You’ll also discover the Navigator in this tutorial.
This window in OOo can help you jump from here to there in your
document and gives you a quick way to modify the structure. Lets get

Converting OOo Documents to Microsoft

When converting between the OOo and MS Office formats, you
shouldn’t see any majors problems with basic formatting and
features. Bolding, fonts, most custom styles and tabs, hyperlinks,
bulleted and numbered lists, tables, and columns, for example, should
stay intact through the conversion process. However, the conversion
of some items, such as headers, footers, and mail merges, are less
than desirable. Headers and footers disappear and mail merges lose
their database connections during the conversion.

If you’ve already converted documents to MS Office format
and are disappointed in the results, don’t throw in the towel
yet. There are a few things you can do within your OOo documents that
makes for a better conversion. Consider these tips before giving up
on OOo:

  • Think about exporting to PDF: If you are sending a
    document to someone that’s OOo-less, but they just need to
    read or print it, you can simply export to PDF and forget all the
    formatting issues. Your documents should export to PDF with no
    problems and look just as you designed them. Simply click File,
    Export to PDF, and adjust the settings to your liking.

  • Change anchoring of objects: If objects such as
    images, graphs, and frames are left with using the default anchor
    setting, to paragraph, they can’t be moved in the resulting MS
    Office document. You can however anchor these items as characters,
    which will let you move them around within the document. Right-click
    on the object, select Anchor – As Characters.

  • Edit objects before exporting: Before exporting to the
    MS Office counterpart, you should finalize any text and formatting
    of objects such as graphs, images, frames, and shapes. These items
    will become static images in the MS Office format. Thus, you won’t
    be able to edit any text in frames, change color of shapes, change
    graph settings, and so on.

  • Use frames to make headers/footers: Though content in
    the official headers and footers disappear when converting to MS
    Office format, you can make your own. One way is to insert frames
    over the same space of the header or footer and type in your desired
    text and content. You won’t though have the convenience of the
    real thing; you’ll need to copy and paste it on all the pages.

  • Keep OOo up-to-date: It’s not a secret that the
    OOo to MS Office conversion utilities need improvement. Thus, you
    might see better results in OOo updates in the near future or better
    third-party converters that may arise. Keep your fingers crossed.

OOo Writer includes a feature or window called the Navigator, which is useful in larger documents such as
books, chapters, manuals, and long reports. This window lists
categories of varying elements that can be present within the
document, such as headings, tables, text frames, and hyperlinks.
Under each category is a list, by name, of the related elements, such
as Header 1, Table 1, and Frame 1. The window also contains buttons
and fields to navigate through the document.

The Navigator can come in handy when you want to visit each
element or object of a particular category. Say you want to make sure
you’ve added a caption to all your figures or graphics. Instead
of scrolling through the document and taking the chance of missing a
figure, just select the first graphic listed in the navigator and
keep hitting the Next Graphic button. You can also double-click
objects to move around.

In addition to being able to navigate the document easily, you can
manipulate the document with Navigator. For example, if you feel
Chapter 5 should now come after Chapter 6 and want to swap the two,
simply select the Chapter 5 heading from Navigator and click the
Demote Chapter button; it’s done, no copying and pasting
necessary. You can also change heading levels. For instance, say you
ramble too long in a section within Chapter 6 and now it should
become its own chapter. Instead of copying and pasting the content
into the right place and then changing the heading style or level,
you can use the promote/demote level and chapter buttons to move
everything around.

The Navigator also provides a way to insert hyperlinks in the
document that are linked to objects within. For example, say you
introduce the topics in the first paragraph or section and want to
link to where you discuss the specifics for each topic. Instead of
inserting bookmarks in the detailing sections and manually creating
hyperlinks in the introduction, you can click and drag an object from
the Navigator into the document, which will create a hyperlink to
that object. Before dragging, you would just need to make sure you’ve
selected Insert as Hyperlink from the Drag Mode drop-down list.

To change to the controls for a category, click the Navigation
button, the second button on the top left of the Navigator window.
You can change the amount of objects shown by adjusting how many
levels you want to work with in the Navigator window. For example, if
you only want to work with items on the main or first level, like
items in Heading 1 and Heading 2, but not sublevels, select 1 from
the Heading Levels Shown drop-down list.

To skip to a certain page in the document, you can type a page
number into the text box to the left of the Drag Mode drop-down list
and hit the Enter key. You can also use the up and down arrows of the
field to navigate the pages. We’ll leave you with one last tip:
right-clicking on objects in the Navigator window gives you a few
more options to explore.

This part wraps up our OpenOffice.org tips and tricks series, at
least for now. If you haven’t yet, make sure you check out the
previous parts. In Part
we discussed adding templates, clipart, and a grammar checker
to OOo. Plus we figured out how to spilt windows, to mimic the Spilt
Window feature available in Microsoft to show two different views or
windows of the same document. Part
discussed importing the custom dictionary and document
templates of MS Office into OOo. It also discussed where to set OOo
to automatically save in MS Office format. In Part
we discovered OOo’s equivalent to WordArt, called
Fontwork. We also had fun drawing organizational charts and diagrams
and found out how to insert page numbers. In Part
we fumbled through the options and preferences in OOo,
exported documents to PDF format and discovered tips to help when
working with images. Finally, this tutorial showed you ways to make
your documents more suitable for the conversion to MS Office format
and introduced you to the Navigator.

Eric Geier is an author of
many computing and networking books, including Home
Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley
2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft®
Windows Vista (Que 2007).

This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.

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