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How to Replace Hanging Indents with Actual Tabs?

asked 2019-06-30 18:34:20 +0100

jakfish gravatar image

I'm helping a friend who has a 272-page, one-file manuscript written with LibreOffice.

Somehow, the majority of his indentations are hanging indents, and I cannot figure a way to search and replace them with true tabs.

LibreOffice does not appear to list them as hanging indents, so they can't be highlighted, copied, then pasted into LibreOffice's search box. But they seem to be hanging indents, if only because hitting return automatically indents the next line.

It's a mess and can someone help with this problem? Or does he have replace everything by hand, one-by-one?

Many thanks for any assistance.

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answered 2019-06-30 19:00:03 +0100

ajlittoz gravatar image

updated 2019-07-01 08:08:00 +0100

Replacing indents by "true" tabs is a sin against good use of document processors. Whether indents are hanging or "normal", or even if there is no indent, setting the desired indent spacing is just a matter of customising the paragraph style.

When you open a paragraph style definition, tab Indents & spacing allows you to set the horizontal limits of the paragraphs within the paper sheet margins. Left limit is called Before text, right limit After text. The "mysterious" First line is where you set indent: a positive value results in the usual indent and a negative value results in a hanging indent.

All you have to do is set First line to the desired value.

Of course, if your friend use LO as a mechanical dumb typewriter, i.e. typing all text in the default paragraph style Default Style, not making any difference in various paragraphs, achieving vertical spacing with empty paragraphs, the situation is hopeless. Text should be typed as Body Text. Otherwise adjusting Default Style will modify all other paragraphs, including headings, because they all inherit its properties.

To clean the mess, your friend will have to properly style his/her document. After that, playing with style definitions formats the document in a snap.

Read the freely downloadable guide or, at least, use the built-in help.

To show the community your question has been answered, click the ✓ next to the correct answer, and "upvote" by clicking on the ^ arrow of any helpful answers. These are the mechanisms for communicating the quality of the Q&A on this site. Thanks!

EDIT 2019-07-01

Search-and-replace operates on individual paragraphs (more precisely on text between excluded paragraph marks). Consequently, you can't search for paragraph marks. Eventually you can search for line feeds which are "ordinary" control characters which don't break paragraphs.

Since you need to detect start of paragraph (which is a "virtual" character), you need to enable Regular expressions in Edit>Search & Replace. Search for ^(.), i.e. any character at beginning of paragraph. Replace with \t$1, i.e. a HT (tab) character followed by what was captured between the parentheses.

Press Replace or Replace All.

Note that empty paragraphs are not affected.

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I very much appreciate your fast, thorough response.

I am not a LibreOffice user, but can handle myself in MS Word, and my friend--just look at his indenting--is not versed in any word processor.

I understand your instruction about Indents & Spacing and I realize that replacing indents with tabs is a no-no, but he is going to send this out to agents/publishers in .docx format and these folks will be vexed when they search for tabs and find only .odt-generated syntax. The publishing racket is tough enough without frustrating potential buyers.

I can convert the .odt into .docx but the hanging indents (or perhaps they're called something else) remain and that will bite him sooner or later. If I convert to .doc, I lose all indentation.

I know you disapprove but could you break your tenet and show me how to search and replace these indentations?

You ...(more)

jakfish gravatar imagejakfish ( 2019-06-30 21:02:28 +0100 )edit

Converting to .doc(x) will not lose indentation set in the paragraph style because M$ Word has a similar feature in its paragraph styles.

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2019-07-01 07:57:44 +0100 )edit

answered 2019-07-01 00:03:43 +0100

jakfish gravatar image

Figured it out, sort of.

Highlight the entire document, remove anything to do with "first line." This blows away all indentation.

From there, in search-and-replace, search for a paragraph mark, replace with a paragraph mark/tab.

It's clumsy but it worked.

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Asked: 2019-06-30 18:34:20 +0100

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Last updated: Jul 01 '19