10 Easy LibreOffice Writer Tips To Speed Your Work

A woman writing on a laptop using LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice is free, open-source office software that can easily compete with Microsoft Word. It is a great alternative to other office packages and is becoming increasingly popular among Linux users. If you have just switched from Word to LibreOffice, in this article, you will find the essential tips on using LibreOffice Writer. Make the writing process easier and save some valuable time. Here are our 10 easy LibreOffice Writer tips and tricks.

1. Set XML as the preferred format

LibreOffice supports a good number of document formats. By default, LibreOffice saves files using the OpenDocument file format (ODT for text documents). Another open specification for documents is Microsoft’s Office Open XML format. It is an ISO standard, well supported by all well-known office solutions.

If the people you exchange documents with are MS Office users, they are probably used to the DOCX format. However, you can easily avoid any setbacks in collaboration. Set LibreOffice to save documents to XML by default.

How to set XML as your preferred format

  1. Click on the Tools menu and select Options at the bottom of the menu.
  2. In the Options window, click on the Load/Save category in the left panel and select General.
  3. Navigate to the Default File Format and ODF Settings section.
  4. Choose Text document for the Document type and choose Open XML (Transitional) (*.docx) from the ‘Always save as’ drop-down list.
  5. Click Apply and then click on OK.
  6. Deselect the “Warn when not saving in ODF or default format” to avoid confirmation dialogue boxes.

TIP: You can always go to document.online-convert.com and convert your ODT or Word document to various formats, (e.g. convert to PDF, TXT, HTML, PPTX, and more). Just upload a document file and click on “Start”. After a short time you will be able to download your converted document.

2. Learn LibreOffice Keyboard Shortcuts

The best way to speed up the workflow and boost your productivity is to use – keyboard shortcuts. Click on Tools > Customize, and then on the Keyboard tab. There, you can scroll through the complete list of pre-configured keyboard shortcuts.

Here are some LibreOffice Writer shortcut keys you will need the most:

  • Home – Takes you to the beginning of the current line
  • End – Takes you to the end of a line
  • Ctrl+Home – Takes the cursor to the start of the document
  • Ctrl+End – Takes the cursor to the end of the document
  • Ctrl+A – Select All
  • Ctrl+D – Double Underline
  • Ctrl+E – Centered
  • Ctrl+H – Find and Replace
  • Ctrl+L – Align Left
  • Ctrl+R – Align Right

Plus, the most common shortcuts for all LibreOffice applications:

  • Ctrl+N – Create a new document
  • Ctrl+O – Open a document
  • Ctrl+S – Save a document
  • Ctrl+Shift+S – Save as
  • Ctrl+P – Print a document

Good-to-know function keys:

  • F2 – Opens the formula bar
  • F3 – Completes auto-text
  • F5 – Opens the navigator
  • F7 – Opens spelling and grammar
  • F11 – Opens styles and formatting
  • Shift+F11 – Creates a new style

3. Use the AutoCorrect option

One of the smartest things you can do is to enable AutoCorrect in LibreOffice Writer. With the help of this feature, LibreOffice will complete your words as you type them. Do the following:

  1. Click on Tools, and then on AutoCorrect Options.
  2. In the Word Completion tab, make sure the Enable Word Completion option is checked.
  3. In that same tab, the check box for Collect Words needs to be selected.

LibreOffice will now record every word you type, and auto-complete will have a database of words from which to pick. All you have to do is click on the Enter key to accept the suggestion.

4. Create instant hyperlinks

If you tend to insert many hyperlinks into your writing, use the Hyperlink bar.

Here is how to enable it:

  1. Click on View, then on Toolbars, and select Hyperlink Bar.
  2. A new toolbar will open that has two simple text areas. The first (to the far left) is where you enter the text for the hyperlink, and the second area is where you enter the URL.
  3. Once you have entered the URL, press Enter and the link will appear to the right of the current cursor position.

5. Create a table of contents

When working on large documents, you should definitely consider creating a table of contents. The process is simple, and it will be of great help to you while writing.

Here is how to add a table of contents:

  1. Click on the document where you want to create the table of contents.
  2. Click Insert > Indexes And Tables > Indexes and Tables
  3. Hit the Index/Table tab.
  4. Select Table of Contents in the Type box.
  5. Select any options you want and then click OK.

Note: After you make a change in the document, you must update it by clicking Tools > Update > All Indexes And Tables. This way, all changes are reflected in the table of contents.

6. Use the Navigator

Another great suggestion when working with complex documents is to use the LibreOffice Writer Navigator.

The Navigator is a tool that tracks the entire outline of your document. It provides a quick way to jump between sections, headings, images, tables, bookmarks, hyperlinks, and all other elements. How to open the Navigator? Click on View > Navigator or press F5.

7. Move text in the document

Did you know that LibreOffice Writer offers a great way to copy a section of text to a new location within a document? And without having to do it the usual way – by copying/pasting it.

You can highlight the text, press and hold the Ctrl key, and then drag the text to wherever you want it. Try it out! It is a very effective method, and you will surely use it often in your writing.

8. Dock and undock Toolbars

Another great feature in LibreOffice is the ability to dock and undock your toolbars. There is the possibility to position them exactly where you want and to customize your workspace.

If you have ever used Microsoft Office, you are well aware that in Word, there is not much flexibility in this matter. While in LibreOffice, you can dock most windows into toolbars and undock most toolbars into free-floating windows.

Here is how to do it:

  1. First, find a toolbar you want to serve as an undocked window.
  2. Hold down the Ctrl key and double-click an empty spot on the toolbar. This will undock the bar, and you can move it around like a standard window.
  3. Repeat the action to re-dock the bar.

Note: In the View menu under Toolbars, you can toggle any toolbars you do not use.

9. Create and protect LibreOffice templates

Creating templates helps to define the common layout and appearance of the document. Of course, it also saves you a lot of time.

To change the default document template to the following:

  1. Create a new empty document.
  2. Set the content and formatting styles.
  3. In the File menu, under Templates, select Save As Template.
  4. Double-click the My Templates folder, then click Save. Give it a name, and click OK.
  5. In the File menu, under New, select Templates.
  6. Select the template you created, click on Set as Default and then on Close.

Protect your LibreOffice templates

After you have put all the effort into making the templates, we suggest you mark them as read-only and protect them with a password.

  1. Open the template and click on File > Properties.
  2. Click on the Security tab and select Read Only.
  3. Click the Protect button and enter (and re-enter) the wanted password.

10. The last of the LibreOffice Writer Tips: Use the Thesaurus

Do you need help finding the best words to express an idea? Then, you will be glad to hear that LibreOffice comes complete with a handy Thesaurus! Just highlight the word you need help with and then press Ctrl + F7 (Command + F7). The LibreOffice Thesaurus will open with suggestions for the word.