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LibreOffice Writer – The First Steps

Monday, March 30th, 2015 by | Filed Under: App Reviews, Free Downloads, OpenOffice, Software Reviews

In a previous article I described the benefits of LibreOffice, a free, complete office suite that not only works with Windows and Mac OS, but also in a Linux-based environment.

This article will  teach you how to use LibreOffice Writer (the Microsoft Word equivalent) and to perform some basic, everyday tasks.

By default, Writer has two well-structured toolbars that you will see when you open a saved document or create a new one: the Standard toolbar and the Formatting toolbar.

The Standard toolbar


With just one click, this toolbar allows you to create a new document, open an existing one, save the current document, export it as a .pdf, print, preview, undo/redo actions, check spelling find words, and much more.

You can also save steps using the same keyboard shortcuts as  Microsoft Word:

– Ctrl + N creates a new document

– Ctrl + O opens an existing one

– Ctrl + S saves your current document

– Ctrl + P opens the printing dialog box

– Ctrl + Z undo the last action

I personally recommend learning these shortcuts.

The Formatting toolbar.


Here you can choose the writing style, font style, font dimension, alignment, indentation, and more. Try using these keyboard shortcuts:

– Ctrl + B – write with bold text

Ctrl + I – write with italic text

– Ctrl + U – write with underlined text

But Writer is not limited to these toolbars. Using the View Toolbars menu, you are able to reveal all the toolbars that Writer has to offer. You can even customize or create your own toolbar.


As a complete, serious office application, Writer lets you create and modify your documents in any way you want. You can quickly insert tables, shapes, charts, text boxes, fields, special characters, hyperlinks, comments. and pictures. But there’s more – The built-in editors allow you to modify anything you need in the inserted objects.

The Edit menu


The Edit menu shows you useful sub-menus that allow you to copy/paste text, images, tables and shapes, find words inside your text, track changes, edit notes, and more.

The Insert menu


The Insert menu has options to insert images, shapes, objects, frames, fields, sections, bookmarks, and so on. Once inserted, you can perform some basic editing using the built-in editors. Just right-click an inserted image or shape.


Right-clicking an inserted object, shape or image lets you quickly edit its position and size, alignment, caption or copy/paste it. The content of the floating menu depends on the item you right click.

The Format menu


You’ve probably already guessed that this is where you will find options to format the document. A quick look over the drop-down menu shows options for: paragraph, bullets and numbering, page formatting etc., images, shapes and objects arrangement, rotate, flip, group and so on.

The Table menu


As with Microsoft Word, here you can choose to insert a new table or edit an existing one by adding rows and/or columns, deleting them them, merging or splitting cells or tables. The thing I like the most to Writer is that I’m able to easily insert formulas in  thetable’s cells and I can give it instructions to recognize the cells containing numbers.

The Tools menu


It’s a less used menu, although it has some very useful options. Here you are able to check spelling and grammar, setup the automatic spell- checking, and perform other tasks if you are an advanced user.

The most important sub menu within Tools menu is “Options.” Clicking it will open a dialog box that allows you to change various settings like: user data, printing options, security, appearance, and more.


The Window menu lets you navigate between simultaneously opened documents, while the Help menu… well, helps you with detailed information about the application and teaches you how to work with it.

Hopefully you now have the information you need to take the first steps with Writer.

~ Adrian

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14 Responses to “LibreOffice Writer – The First Steps”

  1. rob says:

    I switched to libreoffice recently from ms office an love it

  2. Carline Bakelaar says:

    make an address list that can be used to make labels and be able to select different addresses from the list.

  3. warren says:

    can this program print envelopes……..I can never get an answer to this question. can you print envelopes.

  4. Thomas Weybrew says:

    Terrific article. As a senior, unskilled Word user I have resorted to WordPad and such to do simple notes. This will give me a chance to learn and work with a complete word processing program…and one I can afford (!). Please continue a “LibreOffice” series.

    • calinmusceleanu says:

      Thomas, it’s exactly what I intend to do – continue with LibreOffice series. Actually, I recently submited two articles covering LibreOffice Calc. I’m sure you will see them in the future.

  5. Bill Leach says:

    Adrian, as usual, excellent article! I use LibreOffice exclusively at home but am forced to use MS Word at work (we used to be allowed to have OpenOffice/LibreOffice but no longer).

    I would like to add that not only can you edit object that you insert into a document in LibreOffice but the editors for that purpose are vastly superior and more powerful than there equivalents in MS Word.

    For example, Draw is usually envoked within LibreOffice when editing structured objects and the full power of Draw is then available. This can be much more useful that just being able to crop, resize, etc.


    • calinmusceleanu says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Bill. Indeed, Draw is far more complex and complete than Paint, for example, and is seamlessly encapsulated within LibreOffice apps, like Writer, Calc and Impress.
      Thank you for your appreciation, it means a lot to me.

  6. Shiv Rana says:

    I just began to use Libre Office. While using Write I found difficulty to set up page which I wanted. I was looking for a “Landscape” to do some tables but I could not. I checked and googled and was taken to Format toolbar. But there also I only found option for only Landscape while printing.

    Will it be possible to put this simple tool to be made easily accessible so that page can be setup for paper orientation, margins etc. etc.. It will be great help.

    • calinmusceleanu says:

      It’s quite simple. On the right side of your window is a navigation panel, like a vertical toolbar. Click the wrench button and a quick format menu will pop-up. In the bottom you will find options to format page layout: size, orientation, margins etc.

  7. john leipprandt says:

    Can it do Avery labels? What free program will?

  8. JJM says:

    Does LibreOffice provide more than Word Processing? I sampled Open Office and like the compatibility with Word, Excel, etc.
    So far my Office 2007 is more than adequate for my needs.

  9. […] has a question about an Office Suite for his tablet. He writes:   “Will LibreOffice Writer that you have in today’s edition of Tech Tips run on a Polaroid Tablet with […]

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