line spacing is inconsistent: can I somehow reset it?

Hi –

I’ve been working on a long paper this semester and have been frustrated trying to get the line spacing consistent in my LibreOffice documents. Of course I am cutting and pasting between documents so am sure I am picking up formatting cruft somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to a) SEE that formatting, b) null it out c) uh, there’s no (c).

Perhaps this example will illustrate. It’s part of a reference list:

image description

Now, I have selected all you see there and set spacing to single a NUMBER of times. And it stays just like you see it here. What do I have to do to tell that block of text “No. No. I really MEANT single spacing?”

I’ve backspaced the wider-spaced entries into one another to see whether a fresh press of the RETURN key would fix it, but no.

I’m sure this is an ignorant question, but … I’d like to not have to export to plaintext and redo, or anything like that. There has to be a way to make this right within the program, no? I’m damned if I can find it.



Would adding a period (full stop) at the end of every entry make a difference? That would tell the reader, if not also the program, that the entry would not be continued on the next line.

1 Like

Use View>Nonprinting Characters or Ctrl+F10 to display formatting marks. This will make sure you have (or not) empty paragraphs between your references.

Display the style side-pane with F10, then navigate your cursor through the refs and see which paragraph style is highlighted. Is it the same for all?

Also remove all direct formatting as suggested by @LibreTraining. Direct formatting is the root of all evil. Instead, use appropriate character styles.

First remove all manual formatting.
Highlight all the text and then press Ctrl+M
That may fix it.
If not, then apply the same style to all lines.
This is going to remove all your italics, etc., but you will have a clean slate to work from.

Finally, you can clean-up copy/pasted text by pasting it into a plain text editor.
Such as Notepad, Notepad++, or any other code editor. I use UltraEdit.
Pasting it into a plain text editor leaves all the formatting behind.
Then just paste it back into Writer as un-formatted text.
It will take on the style of where you paste it.

In the future, you can make sure you always paste as plain text by using Ctrl+Shift+V instead of just Ctrl+V.

This is way late to the party, and most likely does not apply to this specific issue, but I would like to add something that others searching under “inconsistent paragraph spacing” might find useful. I had a similar problem, and found the solution here: Adjust paragraph spacing

A thing to do is check to see if, under any of your nearby paragraph styles, you have any that have Register True checked in the Indents & Spacing tab of your style definitions dialog box. (Put your cursor in a paragraph of your document, go Menu>Styles>Edit Style, and choose the said tab). Register True can force extra space between lines, because it tries to line up lines of text on one page with those on an adjacent page.
I have solved a number of paragraph vertical spacing inconsistencies by making sure that NONE of my styles use this feature.
Along that line, I also make sure that ALL my styles have Inherit From under the Organizer tab set to None. This prevents all kinds of styles headaches, whereby a change in an underlying style gets translated into other styles you create from a previous one, without you having a clue as to why – until you learn the hard way. (You can certainly use Inherit From to import into a new style the properties from a previously defined and similar style, and that will save you a little time, because all you have to do now is make a little modification to what is already defined rather that defining everything from scratch, but beware of leaving the Inherit From set to that previous style AFTER you have defined your new one. Better to set Inherit From to None once you’ve got your new style set up).
No doubt these features have their advantages for power users, but as far as I am concerned, all “automaticism” is from the devil.
I was a millimeter away from just giving up on LibreOffice Writer, so far as using it as a real publishing tool was concerned, because of these features that caused problems that took many hours to figure out.
LOW is great…so much better than M$oft Word in so many ways. But these are the kinds of things you won’t find in the Manual.
BTW, I’m using LOW

Version is considered obsolete these days. Things have changed in 7.x. Since “register true” is specialised typographical wording, meaning was not understood immediately by most people. The label has been changed to page line-spacing.

Register true or page line-spacing requires several settings to be defined before being enabled. It is attached to a page style where you have an “activation checkbox”. This checkbox is associated with a paragraph style whose properties will define a grid in the page.

You can then choose which other paragraph styles will be aligned on the grid by ticking the Activate line-spacing checkbox in their style configuration.

By default, page line-spacing is not enabled. Therefore, you have activated it some time and forgotten about it.

You recommend to disabled the style inheritance feature as a quick solution to your problem. I’d rather urge you to learn what you can gain from the feature. It is an invaluable tool with sophisticated documents (IMHO a document is “sophisticated” as soon as it references more than 5 paragraph styles). It is related to document formatting maintenance but requires intellectual planning for your styles, necessitating to rigorously anticipate the use of the styles in an orderly way. Above all, you need to consider styles not as instructions how to “paint” your text (bold, italic, colour, size, …) but as a way to annotate it with author’s intent (main discourse, comment, citation, irony, caveat, …). I call it semantic styling. It gives you tremendous tuning power on your document by clearly separating contents from appearance.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply.

I will be upgrading soon, but did not want to do so until my present project is finished, in order to avoid possible problems with my project getting modified in some way by being pulled into a later version.

I was aware of what “Register True” does, and that I had it set for some styles, but unaware of HOW it worked; I assumed it would adjust vertical spacing evenly throughout the page, and did not know that it could force a single space in a noticeable way.

Your advice on style inheritance is well taken. It certainly is more trouble to build every style from the ground up, and there are ways that one could use the interdependence of styles to one’s advantage. I suppose it just depends on how much and in how sophisticated ways one wishes to use Writer. Another problem is how to know exactly WHAT gets passed from a “grandfather” to a “father” style to a “son” style.

Your advice on planning styles is also well taken. This is my first time trying to use LOW as a real DTP program, and after wasting a lot of time having to modify and remodify styles, my own experience makes what you say perfectly clear to me. At present, I am simply adding styles in so as to take care of imperfections caused by “winging it” the first time around. The next level will be to think everything out beforehand, so as to use the minimum amount of styles to achieve all the necessary effects.

Thank you again for going to this trouble.

Apr 12, 2023, 00:35 by

What I found useful in learning about styles was to open a new blank document and look at the the styles there.

Open the sidebar to Styles > Paragraph styles and make sure the view is set to Hierarchical in the field at the bottom. You can see that everything is derived from Default Paragraph style which has 18 direct descendants. Heading inherits from Default Paragraph Style but like it, it is not intended for use in a document and is there to make global changes to the levels below it.

If you right click on any of those inheritor styles, select Modify and open the Organiser tab it will show you what style it is inherited from, what next style will follow it and underneath the list of attributes that have been changed from its parent style.

Any change you make breaks that particular link from the parent style and a subsequent change to the parent style will not change those attributes set in Text Body. Even if you set the attribute back to match the parent style it will not be updated from the parent style; to re-establish the link you need to press the button Reset to Parent and then redo only those changes you want.

If you aren’t a play and discover type of person then the chapter on Styles in the Writer guide is helpful, or the book Designing with LibreOffice is particularly strong on styles. Both can be downloaded at English documentation | LibreOffice Documentation - LibreOffice User Guides

A very interesting post.

This part was especially helpful:

“Any change you make breaks that particular link from the parent style and a subsequent change to the parent style will not change those attributes set in Text Body. Even if you set the attribute back to match the parent style it will not be updated from the parent style; to re-establish the link you need to press the button Reset to Parent and then redo only those changes you want.”

I am definitely NOT a play-and-discover type of person. I just want to get things done as fast and as well as possible. Of course, there is some tension between these two goals.

I have a suspicion that, in the software-design world, there are two extremes of praxis. One is to make a program as efficient as possible. The other is to make it as easy to use as possible. The former design philosophy results in programs that achieve the goal, and are very functional, but by dint of requiring the user to be a REGULAR and dedicated (i.e. power) user. The latter results in programs that have limitations in functionality, and are clunky for “power users”, but are intuitive, and functional, for occasional users.

Clearly, what I need to decide is whether I am going to be using LOW for all of my publishing projects going forward. If so, digging deep will be worthwhile. If not, not. (I will certainly use it for personal and unprofessional writing projects – WAY better than Word – HATE Word).

From what I have seen in my own experience so far, LOW will do as a Desktop Publishing Program, as long as you don’t need to tweak every little detail of your project.

My problem is that I AM a tweaker.

I do have the ebook Designing With LibreOffice, and have referred to it to some extent. Extremely well written, and practical, but has little to say about LOW design philosophy.

“What I found useful in learning about styles was to open a new blank document and look at the styles there.”

That is something I would never have thought of, but a thing that will certainly give some insight into the design philosophy. I will definitely give this a go.

Thank you!

Apr 12, 2023, 17:14 by

This is definitely a wrong assumption and leads subsequently to “surprise disappointment” caused by failed expectations.

From my point of view, a DTP program is page-oriented. You decide on the number of pages (which will remain fixed until you manually add or remove some). Then you design a layout in each page. In the end you add text blocks which may be or not chained. Text will be constrained to these chains and clipped if overflow occurs.

A document processor manages a text flow and automatically allocates pages to cope with text size. The number of pages is unknown from the beginning and depends on text size of course but also on the various spacing (vertical and horizontal). You don’t add pages (because they don’t exist as user-controlled objects) but you can have some influence on the result by inserting or removing page breaks.

As far as layout is concerned, with DTP you have full freedom as layout is based on free position of blocks. With LOW, layout is more limited. It is based primarily on page styles for the main text flow. Therefore you must switch to another page style to change the layout. Layout for secondary text flows, such as marginal notes, side remarks, … is done with frames which create “embedded sub-documents” but their size is rather limited as a frame can’t be larger than a page. To a limited extent, you can simulate DTP and chain text frames. But LOW is not really intended for that as it is rather tedious to allocate pages manually.

LOW is a very good tool for text flow-oriented documents. For page-oriented ones, you’ll be better off with a real DTP program. There is Scribus in the free software domain.

I have a suspicion, there is more than two extremes. Try to find portable solutions working across several OS. Neither efficient nor easy, but usable in several languages (try to read on locales and sorting with icu-libs), and different directions of writing. Following wishes of users (“need black mode”) leads to more complex software and even more complex decisions (“why do you use my settings from the OS, I need another one in LO”). And we have not even started on availability of competent developers and time to realize everything.
I may suspect there are 10 types of users, but this also leads nowhere.

That is a good way of describing the difference between a DTP program and a document processor. I was aware of these differences in workflow, but by experience rather than as an intellectual assessment.
I should have said that I am trying on LOW as a DTP not for any and all DTP I might want to do in future, but only rather simple projects. I am presently 90% sure it will actually work for that, because I am presently +90% finished with the first such project I have attempted.

I have actually used Scribus, and like it, but the present project will require export to ebook as well as a PDF for a physical book. Scribus can’t do ebook export. There are other options for true DTP composition that can fulfill this dual purpose, but from what I have been able to discover, doing basic text composition in a document processor such as LOW or Word is usually the simplest and best way to start your workflow anyway, as you can easily import your work into such real DTP programs, and just use the latter for tweaking the page layout details. Depending on the DTP, doing major revisions to a document on the fly is always doable, but much harder than in a doc processor. At least that is the way it works in Scribus, InDesign and such, though more recently there have been available things like Jutoh, Atticus or others that combine the two workflows to some degree, AND can output both PDF and epub documents.
The only reason I am actually trying out LOW as a DTP in its own right is that I had done most of the basic composition in LOW already, as part of the workflow described above, but then I heard that LOW was able to export to epub (albeit maybe imperfectly), and that there were already people out there using LOW as a publishing prog in its own right – granted its capabilities were limited – so why not try to save myself a major part of the work process, and just continue on in LOW? (In fact, the book Designing With Libre Office is precisely about how to use LOW as a DTP, and that’s what introduced me to the idea).
The worst that could happen was that I would have to scrap the idea of employing this shortcut, and import everything into a real DTP for the finish work, but I was going to have to do that anyway according to the previous idea of workflow. The only thing I had to lose was some time learning about and working with styles in LOW.
So far, as I said, it does look like it is going to work, and in any case LOW will in future be a much more useful tool for my basic document processing needs, so the time I’ve spent learning styles will not be lost. It’s just some of the quirks of how things work, such as the Register True function, that have lost me some time, but this kind of thing is inevitable anyway with any program.
Thank you.

My “suspicion” was a digression anyway. I should have refrained. :slightly_smiling_face:

What helped me most when I started working with word processors, was telling myself to be a bit lazy. Whenever I would set myself to do some labor-intensive editing, I told myself that the developers were smart and had probably thought of an easy way to achieve what I was doing in a roundabout way. Most of the time I was right.
But word processors have become increasingly advanced, with more and more features as more advanced printers became available for the public. At first, word processors were made for letters, mail-merge and reports. Then writers discovered them and wrote their novels or non-fiction with them. Next, people wanted to use them for what’s essentially DTP. Then the sales departments started telling the developers to add new features to make the product incompatible with the competition. Imagine that people working professionally with WordPerfect, would get an expensive training to work with it efficiently. Nowadays, people expect that word processors are intuitive to use. Well, they are, as long as you do intuitive things with them. For advanced stuff, you need to read the manual.


I need to adopt more the read-the-manual approach. In addition to the compatibility problem, when I used Word, one big reason I didn’t do the manual approach was that #!@! Micro$oft would every few years do such a major GUI revision on it that it just wasn’t worthwhile. You had to relearn too much stuff all the time…even the intuitive stuff became unintuitive. No sense trying to take precision shots at a moving target with a rifle; just use a shotgun. At least you’d hit the target, even if without much penetration or prettiness.

I’ve used LOW long enough by now to know that, with it, I don’t need to worry about such incessant change-for-the-sake-of-sales overhauls. But I’ve been still shooting with the shotgun out of habit.

I guess the greater expectations of the public for word processor functionality is what led to the combined word processor/DTP offerings that we’re seeing recently. Many of us will probably be moving to something of this sort in the not-too-far future. Do two different jobs with one program. Eliminates learning time.

But I will never go back to a corporate-produced product unless from a small company that literally doesn’t have time to waste on reinventing the wheel every few years.

Apr 17, 2023, 02:48 by

The most important settings dialog boxes in Writer are, I think, for (Tools) options, styles, autocorrect, and chapter numbering, and they didn’t change a lot over the years. Names changed, some items were moved to another menu item. The best thing to do when you get a new version of software or when you are new to it, is to spend some time to study the Options dialog box, and the others as well, when you have some time to spare and aren’t up against a deadline. Know your enemy, so to speak.