Importing Section Outline

Hiya, so I’m trying to migrate completely from using Google Docs and edit my existing documents in LibreOffice, however I’m having trouble with LO’s section formatting features & migrating section outlines existing documents. I’m working on a really long research paper right now (40+ pages), & GDocs has a handy feature where formatting text using the “Title”, “Subtitle”, and “Heading” style presets automatically populates the section outline in the sidebar with links you can navigate directly to. It also nests headings using the preset style hierarchy (photo attached below with sensitive info redacted). I spent a significant amount of time setting this up because I literally can’t navigate a document of this length without an interactive outline, which it’s why I rely so heavily on GDocs.

The issue is that if I download my paper as a .docx file and open it in LO, it recognizes the style formatting of the section headings but otherwise interprets them as bookmarks like a PDF. This is useless for navigation because in the sidebar view they show up with auto-generated names organized alphabetically, so they’re technically in the “wrong” order & the drop-down menu options don’t let me edit or organize them myself. I tried to create sections from the sidebar myself but discovered that they don’t link back to the text & I couldn’t figure out how to nest them, so it’s a waste of time manually re-entering 20+ section headings if they’ll only be a static overview. Does LO have tools I can use to recreate the functionality & control I have in GDocs, or is there anything I can do to my GDoc formatting-wise before I download it so that LO can convert them into sections the same way? As a sidenote, is it possible to generate a table of contents from section outlines the way you can in GDocs? This is also important because having to do that manually would be a painful process. Huge caveat: this can’t involve putting the section headings into the actual header of each page because I have to abide by empirical paper style guidelines that don’t permit this.

Software specs: I just upgraded to Version (x64) on Windows 10 Pro, this first occurred when I was using Version though.

The issue is that if I download my paper as a .docx file and open it in LO…

Try ODT download.

I don’t know Gdoc, but just signed up for the screenshot.
The main focus for compatibility with LibreOffice is, i think, currently M$-Office-Word.
I’m not sure, but the focus is not on Gdoc at the moment.
If you don’t get good results with an ODF file in LibreOffice, you should try exporting your file as plain text and start adding styles to your file in LibreOffice. I think all the text formatting you listed can be achieved in LibreOffice with styles.

There is a big flaw in your process: your intermediate format is .docx. You then incur two conversions: one from GDoc to DOCX, the second from DOCX to ODF. Each one brings in its load of anomalies. You should try to export directly to ODF. But, as shown by many questions on this site, Google Docs tends to damage ODF documents.

So @Hrbrgr’s suggestion to export as plain text is in my opinion the best solution. Restyling the document may look user-unfriendly and troublesome but it avoids leaving detrimental formatting “fossils” and badly translated structures in the file.

Regarding your question about outline, this is handled in Writer through styles. If you have no or little idea about styles in Writer (they are much more developed than in Word and are present in more areas, like page, character or frame), read the Writer Guide. Title and Subtitle are built-in paragraph styles intended for the title and subtitle of the document. The “outline” of the document is styled with Heading n where n (from 1 to 10) is the level of the heading (1 for chapter, 2 for sub-chapter, …). When paragraphs are tagged with Heading n, they are listed in the sidepane in document order (and indented according to level). Double-clicking on one scrolls you to the heading. You can also automatically number the headings.

All paragraphs styled Heading n are collected in a TOC. You just tell Writer where to put the TOC.

Important vocabulary remark: you talk about sections. I translate this word as “chapter” because a section in Writer is a subpart of a page (it may extend across page breaks) with a different geometric layout, principally number of columns. A section therefore is not related at all to headings or document outline. It allows to temporarily override some attributes of a page style without leaving the style (thus keeping the same header and footer).

1 Like

Just attempted that and it didn’t work either, the .odt doc behaved in exactly the same way. I’m starting to wonder if I have to resorting to deleting all the bookmarks and re-creating them manually, which would be horribly labor-intensive but I really need to get this back somehow so I can keep editing.

There remains only one export as pure text.
You enter this in Writer.
Most styles are already available in Writer and you only have to assign them.
It may seem like a lot of work at first, but once you get started, it should be easy.
For detailed questions, open a new topic here.

For all paragraphs, use the Text body paragraph style.
For text indentations use e.g. a paragraph styles which exist hirarchically below text body.
The headings are available as special paragraph styles and only need to be assigned in their gradation 1-10 (as described by @ajlittoz .

Professional text composition with Writer

Creating a Table of Contents (TOC) in Writer

yeah I think you and @Hrbrgr are right, I’ll try exporting as plain text tomorrow and see how that goes, having to restyle the whole thing is a small price to pay at this point because i’m just glad it’s possible.

also your description of styles in Writer sounds almost exactly like what GDoc does when i styled all my headings, which is reassuring because i’m already used to working with those! i think i just wasn’t very good at explaining what i was doing before.

lastly thank you for catching the section/chapter distinction, i did mean “chapters” when i said “sections”, i’m just exhausted and mixed up my wording.

thank you both so much for your advice, this has cleared up a lot of things for me! I will update this thread if i run into anything else but for now i think my problem is resolved, again I appreciate the help a great deal as this was a really pressing issue for me!