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November 25, 2003

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Create a Newsletter with OpenOffice/StarOffice Writer

Writer is a free, word processor for GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, MAC, MS-Windows, Unix, and more

Mike Angelo -- 25 November 2003 (C) -- Page 2

Article Index
Microsoft Office & OpenOffice Licensing Note

The applicable Microsoft greedy, end-user agreements (EULAs) taken together with Microsoft's horrible Product Activation system mean that With MS Office 2003 and its product family including MS Word, you are restricted to installing Office 2003 on only one desktop computer and one laptop computer for each copy or license for MS Office 2003 that you buy from Microsoft.

OpenOffice, including Writer, is Open Source Software and thus not only free, but you may install it on as many machines as you like.

Please see the Microsoft Product Activation Note in the right-hand sidebar in our article, OpenOffice 1.1 -- A Complete Office/Productivity Software Suite.

For more about why Linux is so much a better choice, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

The Hands-On OpenOffice Writer Tutorial

  • Creating a Simple Masthead

To create your newsletter, first please launch OpenOffice or StarOffice Writer. Then change the font to Nimbus Roman.

To change fonts, go to the second drop-down box from the left in the Object Bar. That's the bottom toolbar at the top of the Writer desktop in Figure 2, below.

Alternatively you can go to the Menu bar and click on Format > Character > Font to open the Font tab. Then in the Font selection pane, scroll down until you see Nimbus Roman. Then click on Nimbus Roman and then on OK.

Next click on View > Online Layout. Then place the I-beam cursor at the top-left of the document and click to place the insertion point at the beginning of the document.

Now please type The OpenOffice Demo Newsletter or whatever you would like to call your newsletter. Then click on the center, text-alignment icon on the Object Bar.

Next highlight the newsletter title and click the down arrow on the Font Size box on the Object Bar. It's just to the right of the Font Selection box. Or, you can go to the Font Tab under the Format Menu as we did above. Then select 32-pt. type.

To finish the newsletter title, with the title still highlighted, simply click the B button on the Object Bar or on Bold in the Typeface selection box in the Format Menu > Character > Font Tab. You now should have the title of your newsletter centered at the top of the document set in 32-pt. bold Nimbus Roman type.

You should periodically save your work in case your program or computer crashes or in case you make a mistake that you cannot back out of easily. That way you do not lose everything. This would be a good place to save what you have already accomplished.

Incidentally, you can compare your work as you do each task with Figure 2 in order to see how you are doing. When you are finished, your newsletter should look the same as Figure 2, except where you typed different content (text) or inserted a different graphic.

Now, let's add the publication information for the Masthead. Let's use a table to do that. A table is used here because tables are simple yet they allow very tight control over the placement of text, images, objects, and other elements on the page.

Hit the Enter button to move the insertion point to the line under the newsletter title line. Next, change the type size to 12-pt.

Then click on Insert > Table and reset the table size to one row and three columns.

Type Published by and your name or organization in the leftmost cell of the table. In the center cell, type the (C) symbol to indicate your newsletter is copyrighted and no one can copy it without your permission. In the right-most cell, type the publication date of your newsletter. To finish the publication-information table, center the text in each cell just the way you centered your newsletter title.

If you look at the cell boundaries in that table in Figure 2, you will notice the cells are not all the same size. The leftmost cell is larger than the other two cells.

Using table cells for the different elements of the publication-information table allowed the Published by element to be justified to the left edge of the table, the publication date to be justified to the right edge of the table, and the copyright mark to be centered between those other two elements.

  • Adding a Main Headline

Let's write a main headline next. Place the mouse-cursor I-beam under the publication information table you just created and click to place the insertion point there. Then hit the Enter key to move the insertion point down one more line.

Now, please change the text attributes to 22-pt, regular. To do that, use the text-size drop-down box on the Object Bar to change the text size. Then click the B icon on the Object Bar to turn the bold attribute off. Here we are turning the boldface off so that the main headline does not clash with the newsletter title.

Next type OpenOffice 1.1 Now Available Free for the Linux, MAC, Unix, and Windows Platforms or whatever you like for your main headline. Then Enter twice to move the insertion point down two lines.

If you have not already done so, click on View and then check-mark Text boundaries and Fields by clicking on them. That will let you see the column borders and other layout organization borders of your newsletter.

  • Setting Up a Two-Column Section for Articles

Now, we are ready to start a two-column section for the articles. This is a little tricky. So please be very careful. This is a good place to save your work so far.

First, insert a Section by clicking on Insert > Section > Section and then click Insert.

Next, let's make that a two-column section. To do that make sure the insertion point is in the new section that you just created and click Format > Columns. Set the Columns box to 2 and un-check the Evenly distribute contents to all columns. Then click OK.

Place the insertion point in the first line of the leftmost column. Then set the text attributes to 16-pt. boldface and center alignment. Next type About OpenOffice or whatever you would like for the headline of the first column. Then hit Enter twice.

Now set the text alignment to left justification. Next change the text attributes to Nimbus San L, boldface off, and 12-pt. You are all set to start typing the content for your left-column article.

It's a good typesetting practice to use different typefaces for headlines and story text. However, you still want the two typefaces to be harmonious. That's why Nimbus Roman and Nimbus Sans L are the two typefaces used for our demo newsletter.

Nimbus Roman is a nice serif typeface that comes with OpenOffice. Nimbus San L is the Nimbus compatible sans-serif typeface that comes with OpenOffice. Serifs are the fine lines at the ends of typeface strokes.

Then repeat this procedure for your right-column article. We are almost done with this tutorial exercise. All we need to do is add a picture and save the completed newsletter. But first, this another good place to save your work so far.

  • Inserting a Picture

In our example newsletter shown in Figure 1, there is some extra space at the bottom of the left-column article a perfect spot to place a picture.

For the demo newsletter, we grabbed the OpenOffice.org 1.1 graphic from the OpenOffice.org Web site and placed it in the directory on the HP OmniBook 6000 in which the newsletter file had been placed.

Next, place the insertion point one line below the last line of text in the left-column. Then click on Insert > Graphics > From file. That opens a file-manger panel. Navigate to the directory where you placed the picture that you want to insert into your newsletter.

When you get to the correct directory, click on the Title of the file that you want to insert. That should place the file in the File name window. If so, click on Open to insert the picture.

Viola'! If the picture is where you wanted it, you have finished your OpenOffice Writer newsletter.

  • Tweaking the Masthead

Actually, you are not quite finished. If you look carefully at your work so far, there are vertical cell-boundary lines in the publication information table in the Masthead. Let's lose them so your publication information table in the Masthead looks like the one in Figure 1.

Place the insertion point in the publication information table. Then click Format > Table > Borders. Next click on the middle vertical line in the User-defined pane to make that line vanish. Next click OK.

  • Finished

That should do it. Nice work.

Figure 2. A simple newsletter created with OpenOffice Writer used as a DTP application. Please see above text for an explanation.

Resources


Article Index
There is a #OpenOffice channel on EFNet IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network. If you want to discuss OpenOffice or Writer with other OpenOffice users, need some help with OpenOffice, or want to help others better use OpenOffice, hang out there. Simply connect your IRC client to an EFNet IRC server and /join #OpenOffice.


To let the OpenOffice.org people know how you think they can make OpenOffice even better, Louis Suarez-Potts asks that you let them know at usersATopenoffice.org. (Substitute @ for AT)


Comparison of OpenOffice 1.1 and StarOffice 6.1

Comparison of ways to do things using Microsoft Word and OooWriter (Jean Hollis Weber)


KDE


OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org CDs

OpenOffice.org Downloads

OpenOffice.org Spport Information


StarOffice 7 Office Suite


SUSE Linux Professional 9.0

Mandrake Linux 9.2


Books


The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, Martin Fink, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-047677-3. $27


OpenOffice.org 1.0 Resource Kit, Solveig Haughland and Floyd Jones, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-140745-7. $40

Special Edition Using StarOffice 6.0, Michael Koch, Que. ISBN: 0789728338. $36

StarOffice 6.0 Office Suite Companion, Solveig Haughland and Floyd Jones, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-038473-9. $40

Taming OpenOffice.org Writer 1.1, Jean Hollis Weber, ISBN 0957841981. PDF Download $10. Printed $25


Using Microsoft Office 2003 (Special Edition), Bott and Leonhard, Que, ISBN: 0-7897-29955-5. $40


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