Creating a master document
The three most common scenarios for creating a master document depend on the current state of your document:
- You have one existing document (a book) that you want to split into several subdocuments (chapters) that will be controlled by the master document.
- You have several existing documents (chapters) by one or more authors that you want to combine into one book, controlled by the master document.
- You have no existing documents but intend to write a long book containing several chapters, possibly by multiple authors.
We will look at each of these scenarios in turn.
Splitting one document into a master document and subdocuments
When you have one existing document that you want to split into several subdocuments that will be controlled by the master document, you can split the document automatically.
Use this method if the original document uses only the Default page style, is numbered sequentially from the first page, and uses the Heading 1 style to identify the start of each chapter. In these conditions, this method will work well.
Advantages: This method is quick and easy, and any existing cross-references between chapters are preserved. Although cleanup work may be necessary, once you have done the cleanup, the document will behave itself.
Disadvantages: If the original document was complex, you may have major cleanup work to do because some formatting will be lost—for example, page styles, page breaks, restarted page numbering.
How to do it: Open the document and click File > Send > Create Master Document to split the document. You will find that each of the subdocuments begins with a Heading 1 and the file names are all maindocnameX.odt, where X is 1, 2, 3, and so on. If you have a Preface or other “chapter” starting with a Heading 1 before Chapter 1, the file names will not directly correspond to the chapter numbers.
Combining several documents into a master document
This method works best when all of the documents were created from the same template, but you can also use it when the documents were created from different templates.
Use one of the techniques described in Starting with no existing documents to create a blank master document and insert the other documents as subdocuments of the master document.
This method is especially useful if the subdocuments are created or maintained by multiple writers. All writers on the project can work on their subdocuments without fear of version control issues that can occur when multiple people work on the same document.
Starting with no existing documents
The ideal situation is to start with no existing documents, because you can do everything the way you want from the beginning. Writer provides three ways to create a master document:
In each case, you need to have a disciplined approach to make sure the master document works correctly and reliably. Each method below describes the steps to take. Be sure to do the steps in the order given.
Method 1. Quick and easy, but not recommended
Writer provides a quick and easy way to create a master document, but the master document is not associated with a template, so changes to styles and formatting are more difficult to apply reliably.
How to do it:
- Click File > New > Master Document.
- Use the Navigator to insert new documents or existing files into the master document, as described in Step 5. Insert the subdocuments into the master document.
Method 2. Not too complicated, but with restrictions
This technique works well if you want to use sequential page numbering throughout the final document (not restarting at 1 at any point), and each chapter starts with a Heading 1 on a new page. If you want to restart page numbering anywhere in the document, use Method 3.
How to do it: Follow the instructions in Recommended method for creating master documents but do not put in the text sections between the subdocuments or try to change the page numbering.
Method 3. Complete control
This method gives you complete control over complex documents with several page styles or restarted page numbering. It is a bit more work to set up, but works reliably. However, the method does not work in some situations. See Problem solving for details.
This method is explained in detail in Recommended method for creating master documents.
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