The Writer interface

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The main Writer workspace is shown below.

The main Writer workspace in Print Layout view


The Menu bar is located across the top of the Writer window, just below the Title bar. When you choose one of the menus, a submenu drops down to show commands.

  • File contains commands that apply to the entire document such as Open..., Save, and Export as PDF....
  • Edit contains commands for editing the document such as Undo: xxx (where xxx is the command to undo) and Find & Replace.... It also contains commands to cut, copy, and paste selected parts of your document.
  • View contains commands for controlling the display of the document such as Zoom... and Web Layout.
  • Insert contains commands for inserting elements into your document such as headers, footers, and pictures.
  • Format contains commands for formatting the layout of your document, such as Styles and Formatting, Paragraph, and Bullets and Numbering.
  • Table shows all commands to insert and edit a table in a text document.
  • Tools contains functions such as Spelling and Grammar, Customize..., and Options....
  • Window contains commands for the display window.
  • Help contains links to the Help file, What’s This?, and information about the program. See Getting help.


Writer has several types of toolbars: docked, floating, and tear-off. Docked toolbars can be moved to different locations or made to float, and floating toolbars can be docked.

The top docked toolbar (default position) is called the Standard toolbar. The Standard toolbar is consistent across the applications(Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base).

The second toolbar across the top (default location) is the Formatting toolbar. It is a context-sensitive bar that shows the relevant tools in response to the cursor’s current position or selection. For example, when the cursor is on a graphic, the Formatting bar provides tools for formatting graphics; when the cursor is in text, the tools are for formatting text.

Displaying or hiding toolbars

To display or hide toolbars, choose View > Toolbars, then click on the name of a toolbar in the list. An active toolbar shows a check mark beside its name. Tear-off toolbars are not listed in the View menu.

Submenus and tear-off toolbars

Toolbar icons with a small triangle to the right will display submenus, tear-off toolbars, and other ways of selecting things, depending on the icon. The image below shows a tear-off toolbar from the Drawing toolbar.

Example of a tear-off toolbar

The tear-off toolbars can be floating or docked along an edge of the screen or in one of the existing toolbar areas. To move a floating tear-off toolbar, drag it by the title bar. See Moving toolbars.

Moving toolbars

To move a docked toolbar, place the mouse pointer over the toolbar handle, hold down the left mouse button, drag the toolbar to the new location, and then release the mouse button.

Moving a docked toolbar

To move a floating toolbar, click on its title bar and drag it to a new location.

Moving a floating toolbar

Floating toolbars

Writer includes several additional context-sensitive toolbars, whose defaults appear as floating toolbars in response to the cursor’s current position or selection. For example, when the cursor is in a table, a floating Table toolbar appears, and when the cursor is in a numbered or bullet list, the Bullets and Numbering toolbar appears. You can dock these toolbars to the top, bottom, or side of the window, if you wish (see Moving toolbars).

Docking/floating windows and toolbars

Toolbars and some windows, such as the Navigator and the Styles and Formatting window, are dockable. You can move, resize, or dock them to an edge.

To dock a window, do one of the following:

  • Click on the title bar of the floating window and drag it to the side until you see the outline of a box appear in the main window and then release the window. This method depends on your system’s window manager settings, so it may not work for you.
  • Hold down the Control key and double-click on a vacant part of the floating window to dock it in its last position. If that does not work, try double-clicking without using the Control key.
Docking a window

To undock a window, hold down the Control key and double-click on a vacant part of the docked window.

Documentation note.png The Styles and Formatting window can also be docked or undocked by using Control+double-click on the gray area next to the icons at the top of the window.

Customizing toolbars

You can customize toolbars in several ways, including choosing which icons are visible and locking the position of a docked toolbar. You can also add icons and create new toolbars, as described in Chapter 17.

To access a toolbar’s customization options, use the down-arrow at the end of the toolbar or on its title bar.

Customizing toolbars

To show or hide icons defined for the selected toolbar, choose Visible Buttons from the drop-down menu. Visible icons have a checkmark next to them. Click on icons to select or deselect them.

Right-click (context) menus

You can quickly access many menu functions by right-clicking on a paragraph, graphic, or other object. A context menu will pop up. Often the context menu is the fastest and easiest way to reach a function. If you’re not sure where in the menus or toolbars a function is located, you can often find it by right-clicking.


To show or hide rulers, choose View > Ruler. To enable the vertical ruler, choose Tools > Options > Writer > View and select Vertical ruler.

Turning on the vertical ruler

Status bar

The Writer status bar provides information about the document and convenient ways to quickly change some document features. From left to right, the fields are as follows.

Left end of status bar in Writer
Right end of status bar in Writer

Page number

Shows the current page number, the sequence number of the current page (if different), and the total number of pages in the document. For example, if you restarted page numbering at 1 on the third page, its page number is 1 and its sequence number is 3.

If any bookmarks have been defined in the document, a right-click on this field pops up a list of bookmarks; click on the required one.

To jump to a specific page in the document, double-click in this field. The Navigator opens. Click in the Page Number field and type the required page number.

Page style

Shows the style of the current page. To change the page style, right-click on this field. A list of page styles pops up; choose a different style by clicking on it.

To edit the page style, double-click on this field. The Page Style dialog box opens.


Shows the language for the selected text.

Click to open a menu where you can choose another language for the selected text or for the paragraph where the cursor is located. You can also choose None to exclude the text from spellchecking or choose More... to open the Character dialog box.

Insert mode

Click to toggle between Insert and Overwrite modes when typing.

Selection mode

Click to toggle between STD (Standard), EXT (Extend), ADD (Add) and BLK (Block) selection. EXT is an alternative to Shift+click when selecting text. See Chapter 3 (Working with Text) for more information about ADD and BLK.

Unsaved changes

An asterisk (*) appears here if changes to the document have not been saved.

Digital signature

If the document has been digitally signed, an icon SecurePDFicon.png shows in this part of the Status bar. You can double-click the icon to view the certificate.

Section or object information

When the cursor is on a section or object (such as a picture), information about that item appears in this field. Double-clicking in this area opens a relevant dialog box.

Object Information shown Dialog box opened
Picture Size and position Format Picture
List item     Level and list style Bullets and Numbering (Note 1)
Heading Outline numbering level Bullets and Numbering (Note 1)
Table Name or number and cell reference of cursor Table Format
Section Name of section Edit Sections
Other (Blank) Fields (Cross References page)

Note 1: If a list style was used with a list item or heading, no dialog box appears.

View layout

Click an icon to change between single page, side-by-side, and book layout views. You can edit the document in any view.

View layouts: single, side-by-side, book


To change the view magnification, drag the Zoom slider, or click on the + and – signs, or right-click on the zoom level percent to pop up a list of magnification values from which to choose. Zoom interacts with the selected view layout to determine how many pages are visible in the document window.


Changing document views

Writer has several ways to view a document: Print Layout, Web Layout, and Full Screen. To access these and other choices, go to the View menu and click on the required view. (When in Full Screen view, press the Esc key to return to either Print or Web Layout view.)

When in Print Layout, you can use both the Zoom slider and the View Layout icons on the Status bar. In Web Layout, you can use the Zoom slider.

You can also choose View > Zoom from the menu bar to display the Zoom & View Layout dialog box, where you can set the same options as on the Status bar. In Web Layout view, most of the choices are not available.

Choosing Zoom and View Layout options

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