How to set default column spacing

Libre Office
This question is an easy one, I suspect, but I cannot find how to set a default column spacing of .10 in. instead of .20 in. in Writer. (That’s default for the program, not a document.)

Whether I create columns in a page or a section, the default column spacing appears to be .20 in no matter how many columns I specify. I thought I should be able to modify this behavior in templates, but there’s no option for styles in paragraphs, and sections (which have options for columns) do not appear to save in templates, unless I’m missing something.

To be clear, I know I can create a template with the desired spacing of columns, but that would also mean that the document would be set to use columns from the start.

I should think there would be a way to modify the default behavior of Writer, so any time I set columns in a Writer document, the column spacing would be something other than .20 in. just as I can modify various paragraph styles in a template without using them at the beginning of the document. But I cannot seem to find a way to specify the default behavior of columns that works each time I use Writer.

Help appreciated.

Help is also appreciated to be able to understand your question context.

Edit your question to tell us where you create columns: in a page, in a section, in a table, elsewhere ? Describe what you’re trying to achieve, remembering we are not by your side to see your screen and your hands.

Don’t forget to mention your OS and LO version.

Don’t use “Add answer”. On this site, answers are reserved for solutions.

The key to the solution of your question is to clearly understand the document model implied by Writer.

The application by itself has no defaults, apart from a very small number of them set in Tools>Options in various “sections” of the dialog.

When you open a document, its initial state is copied from the designated template. If you didn’t explicitly choose a template, the “default template”, whether “factory-made” or user-designated as such, is used.

The template brings in a collection of styles: paragraph, character, frame, page and “list”. The “geometry” of the document is defined in the page styles. Page styles have provision to define columns and their relationship.

To create your default, start with a blank document, modify its styles and save it as a template. Make it the default template and your done.

The initial page style is Default Page Style, but if you routinely use others, customise them as well.

  • In the toolbar of the side style pane (F11 if not already visible), click on the fourth icon from left to list the page styles
  • Right-click on Default Page Style and Modify
  • In the Columns tab, set the number of columns, their width if relevant and the spacing between columns
  • Tune the other parameters if needed: margins, header or footer occurrence, …
  • Press OK

Do the same for all other styles you’d like to configure to your taste (paragraph, character, …)

Next time you create a document, your preferences will be applied.

EDIT 2021-02-04

Columns are attributes of page styles. Note the plural form. In case your document has parts with different number of columns, create one page style per part kind (or part if these parts do not share common attributes such as header). You then Insert>Break>Manual Breaks (not the traditional Ctrl+Enter) to be able to choose the page style to apply after the break.

This changes the number of columns on a page boundary. If you want to change it in the middle of a page, you must Insert>Section. Unfortunately, a section is always manually formatted because there is no “section style”. This means the properties of future sections can’t be saved in a template or anywhere. But remember that a section is supposed to introduce a temporary change. At end of the section, you revert to the page style “geometry”.

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Again, thank you for this detailed comment which is useful even if it does not address my current concerns.
It seems you are describing setting the Page Style, which includes columns, in a template.
That works fine for a document that is all in the same column style. But I’d like to set a default column style that would show up any time I wanted to use columns in a document that is mainly one column - i.e. a program default that could be overridden by a Page Style default.

I think you addressed the problem when you wrote:
The application by itself has no defaults, apart from a very small number of them set in Tools>Options in various “sections” of the dialog.
That’s one place expected to be able to set some defaults that are found in “Page Style,” except that I wanted that to be default Writer styles.

The bottom line appears to be that there is no way to set default column spacing in the Writer. :frowning:

I wonder whether others would see this as a useful addition to the program

What you call a default is only one of the attributes of a style. Only one of the page styles is named Default Page Style and it bears this name for the sole reason it is activated at the beginning of a blank document. You can define/customise any number to fit your needs and choose to switch to one of them where required.

The column spacing is saved in your page styles.

Trying to use Writer without styles on sophisticated documents is the surest way to be unable to manage formatting.