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Understanding automatic blank pages in OpenOffice.org Writer

© January 2009 Anthony Lawrence

OpenOffice.org is a registered trade mark used with permission of the OpenOffice.org Community, https://www.openoffice.org

When you are writing a book, you want the first page of every chapter to print on a right hand page. With an e-book, that may be less important but it's still best to do it in case someone wants to print it out.

One way to accomplish that is to manually insert blank pages when you need them. That's annoying, and easy to screw up when you go back to add or edit chapters. Openoffice.org Writer can do this for you automatically, but the instructions they provide are incomplete and confusing.

How to make OpenOffice.org Writer insert automatic blank pages

Styles and Formatting

This first part is covered in the OpenOffice.org instructions. Call up the floating "Styles and Formattng" menus (Fn-Ctrl-F11 on OS X or in the "Format" menu), choose "Page Styles" from the icons at the top, and Control Click on "Left Page" to choose "Modify". Don't double click on that; you want to modify it, not apply it.

Here's how OpenOffice.org Help describes it:

1.Choose Format - Styles and Formatting, and then click the Page Styles icon.
2.In the list of page styles, right-click "Left Page" and choose Modify.
3.Click the Organizer tab.
4.Select "Right Page" in the Next Style box, and then click OK.
5.In the list of page styles, right-click "Right Page" and choose Modify.
6.Select "Left Page" in the Next Style box, and then click OK.
7.Go to the first page in your document, and double-click "Right Page" in the list of page styles in the Styles and Formatting window.
If you do not want to have a header or a footer on the title page of your document, apply the "First Page" style to the title page.

Here's what it should look like:

Page Style

The next thing is to assign a "Text Flow" to whatever style you used or are going to use for Chapter headings. When I first tried this, I made the mistake of using "Content 1" - don't do that or you'll screw up your table of contents. I used "Heading" (not "Header"!). You'll find that in the first icon of "Styles and Formatting" which is "Paragraph Styles". Right click on that to modify it.

As long as you are in there, you may as well set up anything else you want for your chapter headings: bolding, fonts. font sizes, centering. It's a good idea to make these visually distinct from anything else so that you can easily see if you have applied this style where you want it. The most important part is setting the "Text Flow":

text flow

That's a very confusing section and the "Help" doesn't explain it. I would have interpreted that as "Insert a page before this page IF this page is a 'Right' page" but apparently it means "Insert a page before this page IF this page is a 'Left' page". No matter: the point is that you want an extra blank page inserted to force this to be a "Right" page.

Now you just need to click on your chapter headings, call up the "Styles and Formatting" menu and double click on "Heading". You should see the style apply. Notice I said "Click on", not highlight: this is a Paragraph style so you do not need to select text.

You'd think that would do it, right? Nope. You also need to update your page formatting and of course any indexes and Tables of Contents need to reflect where the pages actually will be, so you may as well just do Tools->Update->Update All.

NOW everything should be in order. If you are using a table of contents, you should see your chapter headings all on odd numbered pages. If you choose "Preview", you'll see the inserted blank pages. If you export to PDF and remember to check "Export automatically inserted blank pages", the blanks will be in your PDF file and of course that will print as you wanted it.

I hope that helps you. It drove me crazy for a few weeks as I tried to understand all the ins and outs.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Understanding automatic blank pages in Open Office


Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of iCloud

Take Control of Preview

Photos: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of Upgrading to El Capitan

More Articles by © Anthony Lawrence

Tue Jan 13 17:04:28 2009: 5170   TonyLawrence

By the way:

If you crash and OO says it can only open Read Only, look for a .~lock.filename file in the directory. Remove it.

Tue Jun 9 17:20:16 2009: 6481   Maximilian

THANKS!!!! This is great!!! It took me almost one afternoon until I found your page! The openoffice people should absolutely change this dialog! It's completely un-understandle....

Wed May 23 18:04:35 2012: 11003   Vivian


It's not working for me. :(

Wed May 23 18:49:57 2012: 11004   Vivian


I figured out why it wasn't working for me. I had page layout for Right Page set to "right and left", which made sense, I thought, since I had right and left pages. When I changed it to "only right", then it started inserting blank pages. Wow. I was driving myself mental over that.

Thu May 24 18:18:52 2012: 11013   TonyLawrence


Ayup - it's confusing, isn't it?


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