Fields, mail merge, master documents, and forms
Fields are extremely useful features of Writer. They are used for data that changes in a document (such as the current date or the total number of pages) and for inserting document properties such as name, author, and date of last update. Fields are the basis of cross-referencing; automatic numbering of figures, tables, headings, and other elements; and a wide range of other functions—far too many to describe here. See Chapter 14 (Working with Fields) in the Writer Guide for details.
Using mail merge
Writer provides very useful features to create and print:
- Multiple copies of a document to send to a list of different recipients (form letters)
- Mailing labels
All these facilities, though different in application, are based around the concept of a registered data source (a spreadsheet or database containing the name and address records and other information), from which is derived the variable information necessary to their function.
Chapter 11 (Using Mail Merge) in the Writer Guide describes the process.
Using master documents
Master documents are typically used for producing long documents such as a book, a thesis, or a long report; or when different people are writing different chapters or other parts of the full document, so you don’t need to share files. A master document joins separate text documents into one larger document, and unifies the formatting, table of contents (ToC), bibliography, index, and other tables or lists.
Yes, master documents do work in Writer. However, until you become familiar with them, you may think that master documents are unreliable or difficult to use. See Chapter 13 (Working with Master Documents) in the Writer Guide.
Creating fill-in forms
A standard text document displays information: a letter, report, or brochure, for example. Typically the reader may edit everything or nothing in any way. A form has sections that are not to be edited, and other sections that are designed for the reader to make changes. For example, a questionnaire has an introduction and questions (which do not change) and spaces for the reader to enter answers.
Forms are used in three ways:
- To create a simple document for the recipient to complete, such as a questionnaire sent out to a group of people who fill it in and return it.
- To link into a database or data source and allow the user to enter information. Someone taking orders might enter the information for each order into a database using a form.
- To view information held in a database or data source. A librarian might call up information about books.
Writer offers several ways to fill information into a form, including check boxes, option buttons, text boxes, pull-down lists and spinners. See Chapter 15 (Using Forms in Writer) in the Writer Guide.
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