Page Styles in OpenOffice

"Why do I need Page Styles, can't I just start writing?"

Sure, you can just write away. But eventually, you need to typeset that text. Books have many types of pages:

  • Front matter (copyright, dedication, title page, etc)
  • Left Page, perhaps with author's name as a header, page number on left
  • Right page, perhaps with book title as header, page number on right
  • First page of a chapter, starting on left page (no header)
  • First page of a chapter, starting on right page (no header)

What page styles do is make it easy for you to adjust the format of each page. The reason for different "left" and "right" pages is simple: your inside margin (towards the spine) probably needs to be larger than the outside margin, to prevent text from being hard to read where the page bends into the spine.

Here are the commands: Format / Styles and Formatting (or F11) to bring up the overall menu. Click the fourth button over to get page styles.

OpenOffice.org Page Styles Menu

Right-click in the list window to create a new style, or just modify an existing one. You'll see the Page Style dialog, where you can select margins, header, footer, and so on for that page type.

"This looks so simple. Why do I even need a tutorial?"

Here is why! Page styles are a simple thing, but one that OpenOffice does in a completely non-intuitive way - which no one can ever seem to properly explain. But I hope that I can.

There are only two things you need to know:

  1. Every page style chooses the style of the following page (see "Next Style" in above screenshot).
  2. The only way to get a different following page than the one specified is to use a Manual Page Break: Insert / Manual Break... / Page Break (set the new style with the dropdown).

There you have it! Now how to implement this?

  • Use the right view settings so you'll see the wider margin in the middle (toward the spine). View / Print Layout [should be checked,] and then View / Zoom... / [Set Columns to 2, and Book Mode should be checked].
  • Start with "Default Left" and "Default Right" styles for your front matter.
  • Next style for "Default Left" should be "Default Right", and consequently, next style for "Default Right" should be "Default Left".
  • At the end of the front matter, create a Manual Page Break. Here, I set my next style to be "Chapter Start Right" (because the left page before this was blank). For Chapter Start pages I have no header.
  • Next style for "Chapter Start Right" is "Left Page" where I have the page number to the left and author's name centered.
  • Next style for "Left Page" is, of course, "Right Page" (where I have the page number to the right and book title centered), and consequently, next style for "Right Page" is "Left Page".
  • This will follow smoothly until you reach a new chapter, where you'll need another Manual Page Break. Then, depending on whether the new chapter starts on a left or right page, choose the appropriate "Chapter Start Left" or "Chapter Start Right" (with their respective margins).
  • Next style from "Chapter Start Left" should be "Right Page".
  • Once this is all set up, you can easily change a whole chapter with just a few clicks. For example, if you edit a chapter and it pushes the next Chapter Start from a left to right page: F11 will bring up the Styles dialog, click on the Page section, and change that Chapter start from left to right. Subsequent pages will automatically rearrange (until the next Manual Page Break is reached).
  • If you have done something wrong, you'll see a blank page. For example, if you have a "Left Page" and then the following page is "Chapter Start Left", OpenOffice should insert a blank page in the middle. But you'll see this and then change that "Chapter Start Left" to a "Chapter Start Right".

"I think I get it now!"

I hope I've clarified things here, and that this helps a lot of OpenOffice users. I spent half a day searching help threads before I figured this out. If you find it's not clear enough, please tell me, and I'll do what I can to improve the explanation.

Head back to the typesetting article: << Typesetting the interior

Return to Self-Publishing Overview Page