Consistent tab stops and paragraph spacing


I am re-formatting an existing glossary page where the longest entry and a few spaces dictated the “tab point” or point to to begin the the “explanation paragraph” for that particular entry, in this case the tab point is at 1.25-inches from the left margin.

I’m aware that the recommended method to adopt for this is Styles, which I’m learning with the help of the 6.4 Writer manual, but I had problems, I think as a neophyte, applying a Paragraph Style to an existing document ( originally a LibreOffice doc.). Here I hope is a brief journey of what happened before I abandoned that. From the limited knowledge I have now, it seemed the glossary might best conform to what is described as a “List” Style in that there is a left hand margin item and following a set-tabbed paragraph. I started to follow a dialog for this by first selecting the initial “explanation” only portion as my paragraph to construct my Style. Things got scary for me pretty quick. Upon opening a List dialog, the first thing that happened was an automatic font and larger point size change that displaced the rest of the entire page. I corrected the font and point size okay and tried again – same thing. I gathered that I was in advanced-land because I was trying to apply Paragraph Styles to an existing document and abandoned the effort before I made a big mess of things. By the way OS-X 10.11.6 and 10.13.

I decided to just use a specified tab stop for each entry’s explanation paragraph for that page, I think you call it direct formatting. It gave me fits. I found no useful dialog box to set a standard tab for my width and ended up just dragging the top tab marker visually to 1.25-inches (+/-) in most cases for every line. The first entry came out as a single paragraph somehow – fine – but thereafter each line, at its end, became its own paragraph. I use the formatting markups so I can see the blue tab arrows and paragraph symbols, but I note I can’t send you an image illustrating that. There are no blue paragraph symbols at the beginning of each new line, only the end, also there are no blue paragraph symbols to start each new entry. How do I take these individual (tabbed in) “line-paragraphs” and combine them into a single paragraph for each entry? Or can I ?

My concern about this, and I haven’t experimented too much with it yet, is I have two blue paragraph symbols at the bottom of the page above the margin that I want to divide up between each entry for visual separation. I tried doing this once between paragraphs and instead of adjusting the line spacing between paragraphs, it applied it to every line in the paragraph, even though it was applied as between paragraphs using that dialog box.

Thanks, and I hope the issues are coming clear in this loner post,


We very much prefer that you describe what you want to achieve instead of telling by what means you tried to achieve something, and didn’t succeed. The result is, we don’t know what you want, so we can’t help you. Don’t worry, lots of people do that.

Please edit your question and attach a sample file with two or three items, certainly not more than one page, formatted by whatever means so that it looks like what you want, then we may be able to tell you the best way to get that. If you can’t get the formatting right, just tell us what you want.

Thanks on both counts. There isn’t a file attachment option on this page. I wanted to send you a screen shot of, as you noted, what I had done showing the blue formatting marks, but as you also noted, it was only a record of what I did and might not be all that helpful to you. I was asked one time to use something called Drop Box to send a Scribus file, is that what I should use to attach a file? For clunky me it was a pain in the rear.

Also let me report that I was able to adjust the paragraph spacing by the minute amounts by just measuring by hand a print of the page’s earlier line spacing and dividing it up by the two blue paragraph symbols remaining to fill the page (as instructed in in Format>Paragraph>Spacing). And it turned out fine. I did learn one thing about that sequence that might be helpful to others: the spacing box already assumes the line spacing width built into document and thus when you use the above and below spacing boxes, fill in only the amount to add.

When you click the Edit button below your question, you will see a toolbar at the top of the Edit window with a paperclip. That’s the Attach file button. You can then upload the file.

Here are some ideas. First, paragraph styles are the way to go. Forget about list styles, they serve an entirely different purpose. You probably want the terms to stand out by applying boldface or italics or both. You can use a character style for that. Using tabs to separate the term from the definition may be awkward, as you have found, when the terms vary a lot in length. In that case, consider entering a line break Shift+Enter after the term, and using the Hanging indent paragraph style (the reverse of the paragraph with the first line indented), then the definition will be indented.