Tag Archives: formatting

Using Styles in Open Office Writer

Advantages of styles

Using styles is a handy way to help you ensure your formatting is consistent throughout your document. Styles can also help you to navigate through your file and see the structure easily, and if you intend to convert your Word file to ebook format, styles will enable you to generate an automatic table of contents.


I have covered styles in more detail in the Word version of this article, so here I will only give you where to find the various features in Open Office Writer:

Applying styles

formatting toolbarYou will access the styles option in Open Office Writer by selecting Format/Styles and Formatting, or by clicking the Styles and Formatting button on the toolbar (on the left). Apply the style by highlighting text in your document and double-clicking the style you want.


Use a page break to force a new chapter onto a new page – under Insert/Manual break… page break, or by typing CTRL+Enter.


Modifying styles

update styleTo modify a style, change one of the sections of text that uses it. Then, with that section highlighted, on the formatting window use the dropdown button to choose Update Style.

Using styles to navigate

navigatorUse the Navigator pane, under View/Navigator, to move around the document and see the structure. Expand the heading section if necessary by clicking on the plus sign to its left.

Table of contents

table of contentsUse Insert/Indexes and Tables/Indexes and Tables to insert a table of contents.





Using Styles in MS Word 2010

Advantages of styles

Using styles is a handy way to help you ensure your formatting is consistent throughout your document. Styles can also help you to navigate through your file and see the structure easily, and if you intend to convert your Word file to ebook format, styles will enable you to generate an automatic table of contents.


Applying styles

The styles options appear on the Home ribbon. You will see several different styles listed, including Normal, Heading 1 and Heading 2. You may also have a Title style.


style bar

Each of these styles may be applied to your document by highlighting the text and then choosing the style you want.


It is important that you use the right style for the right section; it is less important what the style currently looks like, as it is easily modified.


Most of your document will be created in the Normal style, and you should use Heading 1 for chapter headings. Highlight the chapter name and then click on the style named Heading 1. If you have subheadings, you can use Heading 2, etc.


section breakAt the end of the chapter, in order to make the next chapter start on a new page, use a Section Break (Next Page) or Section Break (Odd Page). Both are found on the Page Layout ribbon, under Breaks. Using Odd Page will ensure that the next section starts on the right-hand page of your book. All odd pages should be on the right-hand page – please note that the Word two-page preview does not always display this properly.


pilcrowUsing the Show/Hide button (on the Home ribbon) to see the invisible characters will help you with your formatting. This button lets you see the characters that are normally invisible, but that control the layout of your document.

formatting example

Here you can see:

  • the section break used rather than leaving blank lines manually
  • the chapter heading formatted using Heading 1
  • the pilcrow mark used to show paragraph marks
  • dots instead of spaces.

Modifying styles

modify style

If you want to change the appearance of either of the styles used, choose one heading or one paragraph to change. When you have that one exactly as you want it, then highlight it, right-click and choose Styles/Update Heading 1 to Match Selection or Styles/Update Normal to Match Selection. This will automatically make your changes to every section of text where that style is applied.


More about modifying styles in my next post, on using paragraph formatting.

Using styles to navigate

navigation pane

If you turn on the Navigation Pane (found under the View ribbon) you will see a list of the headings you have used. Clicking on these is a quick way to jump around your document, and if you have subheadings, for example in a non-fiction book, you can see the structure very clearly.


table of contentsMoving to the top of your document and choosing Table of Contents on the Reference ribbon will give options for an automatic table of contents, with or without page numbers. These will be hyperlinked to each heading, so that Ctrl+clicking on a heading will take you to that point in the document, and this will translate to the ebook file as well. If you generate the Table of Contents before your text is finished, then you can right-click the generated table later and choose Update Field, choosing the option Update entire table, to ensure that the table is up to date. Alternatively, make the Table of Contents the last job you do when finished.





Typing your manuscript

Here are a few tips to remember when typing up your manuscript:


  1. Use single spaces only, even at the end of a sentence. If you are an old-school typist, as I am, you were probably taught to use two spaces after a full-stop, but this is inadvisable on a computer. Some eBook converters will complain if they find two spaces together, and there is always the risk that one space will be put on the next line, forcing that line out of alignment with the rest.
  2. Avoid using blank lines in your document. It is best to put a visual marker instead. If you really want blank lines in a finished printed manuscript, you can adjust them once the page sizes are known, but in eBooks you can never guarantee where the page breaks will fall, and it is very easy to miss a blank line at the top or bottom of a page. For this reason, ebook converters will complain if you upload a document with blank lines.
  3. Indent the first line of each paragraph using the automatic settings in your word processing software. The usual style these days is to have no blank lines between paragraphs in fiction, and so the way to signal a new paragraph visually is to indent the first line a little. However, using the tab key or space bar to do this is a bad idea, as it makes it fiddly to adjust at a later date.
  4. Use section breaks or page breaks at the end of the chapter, to push the next chapter to the top of a new page. Section breaks also give you the option to choose whether you want next page or odd page starts, and allow you to change the header and footer between sections.
  5. Make use of the style system. Marking your headings using styles is not only a handy short-cut to keeping your formatting consistent, but it is the key to generating a Table of Contents for the front of the book, and if your book is non-fiction, then the navigation pane will help you check that your content is organised appropriately. 
  6. Avoid using the space bar to align content on the page. Instead, use the left-align, right-align and centre buttons. For anything more complicated, you can always set and use the tabs, or use a table and hide the borders.

If you follow these simple rules when typing up your manuscript, the final formatting should be smooth and easy.

More information on using the style system and section breaks.