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Selecting Blocks of Text in OpenOffice Writer

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 by | Filed Under: OpenOffice
Loading... Writer: Not Your Usual Selection Shape

When we select text in Writer, we’re used to the selection starting at one point and then proceeding down (or up, depending upon the way you drag your mouse) across entire lines… like this:

But what if you need a rectangular or square shape section – one that doesn’t include entire lines of text? Something that looks like this:

At this point, I’d ask if it was possible but, as you can see, of course it is… the question becomes, do you want to know how to accomplish it?

I’d have to ask, why wouldn’t you?

It’s always good to tuck little tidbits of information like this into your brain since you never know when it might come in handy.

With that in mind, I’d say it’s time to get to business.

There are a couple of ways to accomplish this type of text selection.

The first way I’d like to suggest is temporary – that is it selects in the rectangular shape once and then returns to the usual selection method.

  • Hold down the Alt key while you drag your mouse pointer to the shape you need

To use the rectangular shape repeatedly we’d want to change the setting of Selection Mode via the Edit menu.

  • Choose Block Area from the Selection Mode sub-menu

It is also worth noting that you can use Alt + Shift + F8 to turn on the Block Area text selection. In fact, this key combination acts a toggle and it will not only turn the Block Area selection mode on but when used again it will change the selection mode back to Standard.

That’s all there is to it… give it a try, I’m sure you’ll find that it is just what you need when you least expect it.

~ April

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One Response to “Selecting Blocks of Text in OpenOffice Writer”

  1. Bill Beschman says:

    Great tip. Temporary alt+drag as described here also works in Microsoft Word 2007. I don’t know a way to make Word’s alt+drag permanent.

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