Two OpenOffice.org Writer Tricks

Trick #1: Stop AutoText from switching to Times New Roman

I often edit files in fonts other than Times New Roman, just because that font is so ubiquitous. And I sometimes use AutoText to insert frequently used phrases, or Romanian words in an English text (so that I don’t have to switch languages constantly). One thing that has always annoyed me is that after invoking an AutoText completion (F3), the next characters will always be in Times New Roman (even if the AutoText itself is in another font).

As it turns out, this happens because Times New Roman is the font of the Default paragraph style. So hit F11 and modify your style to use the desired font. In fact (and this is a topic for another day), styles should be used in most cases and formatting a selection of text (bold, italic, font, font size, paragraph indentation) should rarely be done by hand. This is very unintuitive to people who have been using text editors before the GUI era.

Trick #2: Insert Formula without switching into formula-edit mode

Assume you have a shortcut such as F2 for the menu entry Insert > Object > Formula. When editing text, this allows you to hit F2 to enter the formula editor, edit your formula, and then press Esc to go back to normal text editing*. Once you’ve been doing this a lot**, you’ll notice that typing

{ 1 + sqrt 5 } over 2

into the formula editor is much faster than hunting for the “square root” and “over” symbols. Everything has a textual notation (%pi%, drarrow, ~).

To take this one step further, you can type your formula as plain text into your actual document, and then select it and press F2. This will transform the selection into a formula, without taking you into the formula editor. Saves a lot of time!

* When exiting the formula editor with the Esc key, the formula box is still “active” and you have to press Esc again to go back to editing text. This is very annoying and I wish there were a way around this. (But the current behavior does make sense as far as keyboard-only editing goes… perhaps.)

** Learn LaTeX.

One Response to Two OpenOffice.org Writer Tricks

  1. Richard says:

    THANK YOU! Your math editor tips were really useful.

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