How to Layout a Book with Part 3

In this final part of our series on laying out a book with, you will learn how to position illustrations in your book, how to use paragraph styles, and how to export in different formats. What you will take away from this is one method that has worked for me and many other people. At the end of this post, I will provide links for further study on the subject.


To insert an image in OpenOffice Writer, simply click “Insert->Picture->From File“.  Then, select the image that you want, and click OK.

By default, the text will wrap around  your picture. If you do not want this or want a different type of wrapping, right click on the picture and choose the appropriate wrap method from the wrap menu.

The next thing to consider is anchoring. By default, your image will be anchored to the paragraph.  That means that if text is inserted or delete above or below your paragraph, that picture will stay with the paragraph as it moves, even to another page. If your image is page-specific, you should right click, move your arrow to “Anchor” and click “To Page”.  You can also do all of this from the Graphics toolbar, if you have it enabled.

One final point to note is that your printing company may have specific requirements for images. Many will require an image to be 300ppi (pixels per inch). It is beyond the scope of this article to teach you about photo management, but you can read more about this issue.

Styles and Formatting

openoffice styles and formatting

For most books, you will want the same font and font size throughout the entire book. You will also want the same indentation, margins, and other formatting. To begin, do the following:

1. Click on the Styles and Formatting button in the toolbar.

2. Right click on “First line indent” and click “New“. (That will create a style with indentation already set).

3. Give your style a name.

4. Click the Indents & Spacing tab. You can change the amount of indentation and line spacing (most books are single-spaced).

5. Click the Alignment tab. Most books have justified alignment.

6. Click the Text Flow tab.  Because your book will be justified, you will want hyphenation at the end to make the words flow nicely. Orphan and Widow control will keep single lines from ending up by themselves.

7. Click the “Font” tab and select the font, typeface, and size that you prefer. You can also select your language here.

8. Click the “Drop Caps” tab. If you want to display drop caps at the beginning of a paragraph, you can set that here.

Once you have your style the way you want it, click OK.  You will now have a style that you can apply to any text in your document.  By default, each paragraph will start with the previous style that you were using. You can even tweak that setting in the Organizer tab.



Most professional printers will not accept Open Document Text (.odt) format. While that might change in the future, for now you will have to rely on other formats.  While some printers allow you to export to Microsoft Word document format, you should avoid this if you can.  Chances are, your styles and formatting will be altered in the conversion. The safest bet is to export in PDF or PS format. has built-in support for PDF exporting.  Just follow these easy steps:

1. Click “File”

2. Click “Export as PDF”

3. Keep it on “Lossless compression”. You should leave the other settings as they are unless you have been specifically told to change something.

4. Click “Export”.

5. Choose a file name and location and click OK.

If you need to export a PostScript (PS) file, use this method:

1. Click “File” and “Print”

2. Check the “Print to file” box.

3. Click “Print”

4. Choose the location and file name.

5. Click OK.

With the skills you have learned in this series, you now have a basic understanding of book layout using  There are other typsetting features, such as frames, that you may want to consider.  There are also typesetting applications like Scribus for more layout-intensive projects (such as magazines).  Depending on what you want to accomplish, there are free software tools available for your needs.  In the end you will have quality work at an affordable cost.

Further reading:

Positioning graphics within the text

Using frames for page layout

Tavis J. Hampton

Tavis J. Hampton is a freelance writer from Indianapolis. He is an avid user of free and open source software and strongly believes that software and knowledge should be free and accessible to all people. He enjoys reading, writing, teaching, spending time with his family, and playing with gadgets.

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