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4.2. Working with Styles

Many people manually format paragraphs, words, tables, page layouts, and other parts of their documents without paying any attention to templates or styles. Other people use styles, but manually change (override) the styles for some paragraphs. When several people are working on the same document, this can result in a mess. Cleaning up the mess can be time-consuming; avoiding it is a better strategy.

A style is a set of formats that you can apply to selected pages, text, frames, and other elements in your document to quickly change their appearance. When you apply a style, you apply a whole group of formats at the same time.

Writer supports the following types of styles:

  • Page styles include margins, headers and footers, borders and backgrounds. An example of creating page styles is given in Chapter 3.

  • Paragraph styles control all aspects of a paragraph's appearance, such as text alignment, tab stops, line spacing, and borders, and can include character formatting.

  • Character styles affect selected text within a paragraph, such as the font and size of text, and bold and italic formats.

  • Frame styles are used to format graphic and text frames, including wrapping type, borders, backgrounds, and columns.

  • Numbering styles apply similar alignment, numbering or bullet characters, and fonts to numbered or bulleted lists.

4.2.1. Apply a Style to Text

Writer provides three ways for you to select styles to apply. When you first start a document and have not applied any styles to anything, the third method is very limited. Method 1: Select from the Stylist

This is the most commonly used method.

  1. Click the Stylist icon , click Format > Stylist, or press F11. Move the Stylist (Figure 4-7) to a convenient position on the screen.

  2. Click on one of the icons at the top left of the Stylist to display a list of styles in a particular category (paragraph, character, page, frame, or numbering).

  3. To apply an existing style (except for character styles), position the insertion point in the paragraph, frame, or page, and then double-click on the name of the style in one of these lists. To apply a character style, select the characters first.

Figure 4-7. The Stylist, showing paragraph styles Method 2: Use the Fill Format mode from the Stylist

This method is quite useful when you need to format many scattered paragraphs with the same style.

  1. Open the Stylist (Figure 4-7) and select the style you want to apply.

  2. Click the Fill Format Mode icon.

  3. Position the icon on the paragraph to be styled and click the mouse button.

    If you are applying a character style, hold down the mouse button while selecting the characters.

  4. To quit the Fill Format mode, click the button again or press the Esc key.

    When this mode is active, a right-click anywhere in the document undoes the last Fill Format action. Be careful not to accidentally right-click and thus undo actions you want to keep. Method 3: Use the Apply Style list on the object bar

After you have used a style at least once in a document, the style name appears on the Apply Style list (Figure 4-8) at the left-hand end of the object bar.

You can open this list and click once on the style you want, or you can use the up and down arrow keys to move through the list, then press Enter to apply the highlighted style.

Figure 4-8. The Apply Style list on the Object Bar

4.2.2. Change a Style Definition

Writer comes with many predefined styles. You can redefine existing styles (keeping the same style name), alter an existing style and give the altered style a new name, or create brand new styles.

One good reason to redefine the existing styles, keeping the original names, is that changing templates is easier and more effective if the same style names are used in each template.


Any changes you make to a style are effective only in the document you're working on. The changes do not go into any associated template.

If you want to change the styles in a template, you must edit the template. See "Change the Information in an Existing Template" in section 4.1.5.

To change an existing style:

  1. Do one of the following:

    • In the Stylist (Figure 4-7), right-click on the required style and select Modify from the pop-up menu.

    • Click Format > Styles > Catalog. In the Style Catalog dialog (Figure 4-9), select the required style and click Modify.

  2. In this example we're modifying a paragraph style. On the Organizer tab of the Paragraph Style dialog (Figure 4-10), you can change the style on which this style is based, and the default style for the paragraph following this one.

    Figure 4-9. The Style Catalog

    Do not select the AutoUpdate checkbox. If you do, whenever you manually change any paragraph with this style, all of the paragraphs will change. This will cause havoc. If you want to deliberately update a paragraph style based on your manual changes, use one of the methods described in "Update a Style from a Selection" in section 4.2.9.

Figure 4-10. The Organizer tab of the Paragraph Style dialog

  1. Use the other tabs to change any characteristics you wish. Most of them will be familiar to you or are self-explanatory, so I won't discuss them here.

    One set of choices that are a bit different are the page break options on the Text Flow tab. If you want a mandatory page break before every paragraph with this style (as you might with a Heading 1, which is often used for chapter titles), then in the Breaks section select the Enable checkbox, select Page in the Type list and select Before in the Position list. See Figure 4-11.

    Figure 4-11. Specifying a mandatory page break to a specific page style

    If you have defined page styles (as we did in Chapter 3), you might want to specify that this style always starts on a First Page, so you would select the With Page Style checkbox and First Page in the drop-down list. Leave the Page number as 0 so the new page will pick up the next page number automatically.

    However, if you do want a page break but you don't want to specify the page style (for example, for a Heading 2, which you always want on a new page, but it could be either a left- or right-hand page), then you would not select With Page Style.

  2. Click OK to save your changes. You can now apply this new style as needed.


If spacing between paragraphs seems wrong, see if Register-true is activated on the Indents & Spacings tab of the Paragraph Style dialog (Figure 4-12). If it is selected, deselect it.

Register-true is a typography term used in printing. It refers to techniques used to line up lines of type on the front and back of pages, or in adjacent columns, so they are at the same height on the page. This may cause spacing between some paragraphs to be different from the spacing you have defined.

Figure 4-12. Checking the Register-true setting for a paragraph style

4.2.3. Define a New Style

After you have defined your template and modified existing styles, you may want to add some new styles. To do this, click New from the Stylist or the Style Catalog.

  • If you want your new style to be linked with an existing style, first select that style, and then click New.

  • If you link styles, then when you change the base style (for example, by changing the font from Times to Helvetica), all the linked fonts will change as well. Sometimes this is exactly what you want; other times you don't want the changes to apply to all the linked styles. It pays to plan ahead.

The dialogs and choices are the same for defining new styles and for modifying existing styles.

4.2.4. Use Numbering Styles

You can define the appearance of your lists by using numbering styles, which include styles for bullet lists as well as numbered lists.

After you set up a numbering style, you associate it with one or more paragraph styles. You can use a series of numbering styles to create a hierarchy of numbered paragraphs, and you can define other (unnumbered) paragraphs to fit the indentation or spacing patterns of the numbered paragraphs.

As an example, suppose you want Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3) with no following punctuation, lined up as shown in the illustration below:

  1. Click Format > Styles > Catalog. On the Style Catalog (Figure 4-13), choose Numbering Styles in the top box, and either All or Hierarchical in the bottom box.

    Figure 4-13. Selecting a list numbering style to modify

    You'll see a list of styles in the large central box. If you need more styles, or want ones with different (perhaps more descriptive) names, you can click New and define your own. We'll use one of the supplied style names, List 1.

  2. Select List 1 and click Modify. On the Numbering Style dialog, you can either choose a predefined style on the Numbering Style tab or design your own on the Options tab. We'll use the Options tab (Figure 4-14).

  3. Choose 1, 2, 3 in the Numbering box and delete anything in the Before and After boxes. In the Level box, leave 1-10 (the default) highlighted.

Figure 4-14. Designing a list-numbering style

  1. On the Position tab (Figure 4-15), increase Spacing to text from the default, and change Numbering alignment to Right. You might also need to increase the Minimum spacing numbering <-> Text value. I'm not suggesting specific values because they depend on the typeface, type size, and your personal preference. Try a few combinations to see what works for you. Click OK.

Figure 4-15. Setting spacing and alignment in a list-numbering style

You can apply this numbering style directly to any paragraph, or you can define a paragraph style to use this numbering style.

To define a paragraph style, follow the instructions in "Change a Style Definition" in section 4.2.2 or "Define a New Style" in section 4.2.3. In addition, go to the Numbering tab (Figure 4-16) and choose the numbering style you just defined. (The name of the paragraph style does not have to match the name of the numbering style, even though I have done it that way in this example.)

Figure 4-16. Choosing a numbering style for a paragraph style

4.2.5. Use Outline-Numbering Styles

If you require your numbered lists to follow an outline-numbering sequence, you can set up the numbering system using styles assigned to paragraph styles, as you did for ordinary numbered lists, but by using the Outline tab.


You may find that the selections under Tools > Outline Numbering (described in section 4.2.8) are sufficient for your requirements, and you may not need to use outline-numbering styles.

You can modify the predefined styles, or you can define your own. We'll use one of the supplied styles, Numbering 1.

Suppose you want an outline-numbering system to use letters and indents like this:

I. Level-1 list item
 A. Level-2 list item
  i. Level-3 list item
   a) Level-4 list item

  1. Click Format > Style > Catalog. On the Style Catalog (Figure 4-13), choose Numbering Styles and select a style such as Numbering 1. Click Modify.

  2. On the Numbering Style dialog, go to the Outline tab (Figure 4-17), where you'll find that one style matches your requirements. Click once on that style.

Figure 4-17. Choosing a predefined outline-numbering style

  1. If you want to modify the layout of the list, you can use the Options tab (Figures 4-18 and 4-19). Notice that the preview on the right shows the outline you selected. In the Level box on the left, select 1, then 2, 3, and 4, and see how the information in the Numbering and After boxes changes.

    If you want different punctuation (for example, a period after "a" on level 4 instead of a parenthesis), you can change it here.

Figure 4-18. Checking the outline numbering, and changing it if necessary, for level-1 list items

Figure 4-19. Numbering style for level-2 list items

  1. If you want the indentation at each level to be greater or less than the default, you can change it on the Position tab (Figure 4-15). Select the heading level, then make any changes in the indentation, spacing, or numbering alignment.

    Repeat for each heading level as required, then click OK to save the style.


You can use outline numbering to define different bullet styles for the different levels of a bullet list. Use the Bullets tab of the Numbering Style dialog (not shown). Applying this numbering style to a paragraph style

To apply this numbering style to a paragraph style:

  1. Click Format > Style > Catalog, select Paragraph Styles and the paragraph style you want to use for an outline-numbered list (in this example, List 1). Click Modify.

  2. Follow the instructions in "Change a Style Definition" in section 4.2.2 to set up the font and other required attributes.

    In addition, go to the Numbering tab (Figure 4-16) and choose the numbering style you just defined (Numbering 1, in this example). Click OK to save the style. Applying the different levels of a list-numbered paragraph style

To apply the different levels of a list-numbered paragraph style:

  1. Type the first paragraph and apply the List 1 style. Notice that the level-1 list number is added automatically

  2. Look at the right-hand end of the Formatting object bar. A left-facing arrow icon has appeared. Click on this icon to display the Numbering object bar (Figure 4-20).

  3. Press Enter to start the next paragraph. If you want it to be a level-2 list item, click the Down One Level icon on the object bar. You'll see that the number applied to this paragraph has changed to a level-2 number, and the paragraph is indented (if you are using an indented outline style).

  4. Continue typing list items, moving each paragraph up or down levels as needed.

    Figure 4-20. The Numbering object bar


You can enter all the list paragraphs and apply the levels afterward.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to move paragraphs up or down the outline levels. Place the cursor at the beginning of the numbered paragraph and press:

Tab     Down a level
Shift+Tab   Up a level

If you need to insert a tab stop at the beginning of a numbered paragraph (that is, after the number but before the text), press Ctrl+Tab.

4.2.6. Use Frame Styles

You can use frames as containers for text or graphics for a variety of purposes. To provide consistency in the appearance of frames used for similar purposes, you can define styles for frames. For example, you might want photographs to be enclosed in a frame with a drop-shadowed border, line drawings in a frame with a plain border, marginal notes in a frame without a border but with a shaded background, and so on.

Writer provides several predefined frame styles, which you can modify as needed; and you can define other frame styles. The technique for defining and applying frame styles is similar to that for other styles.

4.2.7. Use Character Styles

Use character styles when you want a character, word, or phrase to be consistent, but different from the rest of a paragraph. For example, you might want page numbers in a larger font than the rest of the text in a header or footer; or you might want Internet links underlined and in a particular color (as they appear on many websites). You can also define a style for drop caps (large first letters at the beginning of a paragraph), and many other effects for special purposes.

Character styles can also help you manage change. Suppose your company style uses bold for menu items, commands, and dialog titles. Just before you finish a book, someone decides to change the styles so dialog titles are no longer in bold. If you have defined a character style for dialog titles, you only need to change bold to not-bold in one place and then apply the change to the document.

Writer provides several predefined character styles, which you can modify as needed; and you can define other character styles. The technique for defining and applying character styles is similar to that for other styles.

See "Changing the Default Bullet Character" in section 9.5 for instructions on how to change the bullet character used for lists.

4.2.8. Number Chapters and Appendixes Separately

If your document contains several chapters and some appendixes, you may want to use automatic chapter numbering. Suppose you want the chapters numbered 1, 2, 3, and the appendixes numbered A, B, C. Here is one way to do this.

Before you take this approach, read "Other things you may need to do" in section You won't be able to bookmark or set a reference to the chapter or appendix number part of the paragraph, so if you plan to use cross-references to specific chapters (for example, "See Chapter 12, Walking your dog"), you'll need to use a different method of numbering chapters and appendixes. See "Using Fields Instead of Outline Numbering for Chapter Numbers" in section 5.7.


You must have in your document at least one heading or other paragraph tagged with the style associated with each level of your outline, or these settings will be lost when you close your document. To prevent this problem when developing a new template or document, include a page at the end of the document with sample headings. Delete this final page when the document is complete.


Writer 1.1.1 has a bug that does not occur in earlier versions, including 1.1.0. This bug is in the default template provided with the program. Documents based on the default template do not display outline numbers on paragraphs after you close and reopen a document, even though the outline numbering dialog retains the settings you have specified. If you open the document in an earlier version of Writer, the outline numbers are displayed, and if you create a document based on a template from an earlier version of Writer, the outline numbers display correctly in Writer 1.1.1. Set up chapter numbering
  1. Click Tools > Outline Numbering.

  2. On the Numbering tab of the Outline Numbering dialog (Figure 4-21):

    1. Select Level 1.

    2. Choose Heading 1 from the Paragraph Style list.

    3. Choose 1, 2, 3 from the Number list.

    4. Type Chapter (followed by a space) in the Separator Before box.

    5. Choose a character style for the number if you want it to be different from the rest of the paragraph (you'll also need to define the character style).

    6. Type any punctuation you want to appear after the chapter number in the Separator After box (you'll probably want at least a space or two there).

    7. Leave the Start at number as 1.

Figure 4-21. Set up automatic chapter numbering

  1. Go to the Position tab (Figure 4-22) and make any required changes to the position and spacing. For example, if you expect some of your chapter titles to be long and you want them to wrap to line up in a particular way, you can define the Space to Text to suit your requirements.

  2. If you want other headings to be numbered (for example, 1.1 for Heading 2 and 1.1.1 for Heading 3), you can select the relevant level and set the paragraph style, number type, punctuation, and so on as you did for Heading 1. For Heading 2, set the number of sublevels to 2; for Heading 3, set it to 3.

Figure 4-22. Setting up the position and spacing for outline numbers Set up appendix numbering

To put appendix numbers into your outline-numbering scheme:

  1. Define an Appendix 1 paragraph style. Define its characteristics (font, spacing) to match the Heading 1 style, but do not make it "linked with" Heading 1. I suggest linking it to -None-.

  2. On the Outline Numbering dialog, choose an outline level that you won't need for another purpose, such as level 6 or 7.

  3. Define the numbering as for chapter numbering, but choose Appendix 1 in the paragraph style list; choose A, B, C in the Number list; and type Appendix in the Separator Before box. Other things you may need to do

When you set up a table of contents, you'll need to specify that the Appendix paragraph style is to be treated at the same table of contents level as Heading 1, as described in "Assign paragraph styles to table of contents levels" in section

If you include the chapter number in the header or footer using a document field, as described in "Using Fields in Headers and Footers" in section 5.6, you'll need to follow these steps:

  1. Define different page styles for pages in chapters and pages in appendixes.

  2. When inserting the document field in the header or footer of chapter pages, set the "Layer" field to 1.

  3. When inserting the document field in the header or footer of appendix pages, set the "Layer" field to the outline level you've assigned to Appendix 1 style (6 in our example).

  4. Just before the first appendix page, insert a manual page break and specify the page style for the first page of an appendix.

4.2.9. Update a Style from a Selection

You can update a style from a selection. Any changes to a style apply only to this document; they will not be saved in the template.

  1. Open the Stylist.

  2. In the document, select formatted text or a paragraph that has the format you want to adopt as a style.

  3. In the Stylist, select the style you want to update (single-click, not double-click), and then click on the Update Style icon.

4.2.10. Create a New Style from a Selection

You can create a new style by copying an existing style. This new style applies only to this document; it will not be saved in the template.

  1. Open the Stylist. From the drop-down list, choose the type of style you want to create.

  2. In the document, select a page, formatted frame, some text, or a paragraph you want to save as a style.

  3. In the Stylist, click the New Style from Selection icon . In the Create Style dialog (Figure 4-23), type a name for the new style. The list shows the names of existing styles of the selected type. Click OK to save the new style.

    Figure 4-23. Creating a new style from a selection

4.2.11. Remove Unwanted and Unused Styles from a Document

You cannot remove (delete) any of Writer's predefined styles from a template, even if you are not using them.

You can remove any user-defined styles; but before you do, you should make sure the styles are not in use. If an unwanted style is in use, you'll want to replace it with a substitute style. See "Find and Replace Paragraph Styles" in section 2.4.3 for instructions.

Replacing styles (and then deleting the unwanted ones) can be very useful if you are dealing with a document that has been worked on by several writers or has been formed by combining several documents from different sources.

To delete unwanted styles, right-click on them (one at a time) in the Stylist and click Delete on the pop-up menu.

4.2.12. Remove Unwanted Character Styles from Selected Text

If some of your text has picked up unwanted character (not paragraph) styles, you can remove those styles. Select the characters, then click Default on the Character Styles page of the Stylist.

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