Mastering LibreOffice Headings

Problem

LibreOffice and Microsoft Word are very similar products. However, the default settings are different for both products, especially for Heading Styles. Worse yet, the LibreOffice keyboard shortcut defaults are overridden by other Ubuntu keyboard shortcuts. This article helps redefine the settings and offers a template for better Heading Styles.

What is a Heading Style?

A Heading Style is a way to partition a large document into smaller chapters and sub-chapters. The Heading Styles take care of automatic numbering and can use numbers, letters, or roman numerals. Heading Styles are also used for building a Table Of Contents as well as cross references to other locations on the document.

Fixing the Keyboard Mapping

By default, Microsoft Word uses Alt-Shift-Left and Alt-Shift-Right to promote or demote a paragraph into a Heading Style. LibreOffice does not have this keyboard mapping. Instead, they use Ctrl-Alt-Up and Ctrl-Alt-Down. Unfortunately, these keys are also used to change the current desktop on Ubuntu.

On LibreOffice 3.5 (default version on Ubuntu 12.4), to set the keyboard mapping to Alt-Shift-Left and Alt-Shift-Right choose one of two methods:

Method 1: Load a configuration file

This method involves downloading a cfg file to the system and using it to replace the default keyboard mappings. This method will remove any other keyboard customizations you have made. Use at your own risk.

  1. Download this file.
  2. In LibreOffice, click Tools|Customize...
  3. Click the Keyboard tab.
  4. Click the Load button.
  5. Select the file from step 1.
  6. Click Ok.

Method 2: Manual Fix

This method is a bit more involved but you will retain any other keyboard mappings.

  1. Click Tools|Customize...
  2. Click the Keyboard tab.
  3. Under Shortcut Keys, be sure the Writer radio button is selected.
  4. Select the Shortcut Key: Alt+Shift+Left.
  5. Under Functions, select the Numbering Category.
  6. Select the Promote One Level With Subpoints Function.
  7. Click Modify.
  8. Select the Shortcut Key: Alt+Shift+Right.
  9. Select the Demote One Level With Subpoints Function.
  10. Click Modify.
  11. Click Ok.

Customize...

Outline Numbering Required

The above fixes will not work until Outline Numbering is activated on the current document. Also, the paragraph must be set to one of the Heading styles. Simply, press Ctrl-1 to make the current paragraph a Heading 1 style (this is a default keyboard shortcut for LibreOffice).

Using a Template

The default Heading styles are very ugly. There is no default numbering scheme and there not good visual queues to help the reader understand the depth of the next section break. Here's the default template:

Original Headings

And here is an improved template:

Improved Headings

To import the improved template:

  1. Download this file.
  2. Click File|Templates|Organize....
  3. Right-click My Templates.
  4. Click Import Template....
  5. Find the file from step 1.
  6. Click Close.

Now the template is available for use. To create a document based on this template:

  1. Click New|Templates and Documents.
  2. Click the template that was imported.

At this point, you should have a blank document ready to be used.

No votes yet