LO Writer for Linux using +1 spellchecker languages

I have LO, VCL:gtk3, UI:en-US on a MX Linux 19.4, what’s the best way to setup different spellcheckers for different languages? My main/base language would be en-US, sometime I have to work with Spanish and Traditional Chinese, I would guess that my standard [All] dictionary would be en-US, is there a way to assign a specific spellchecker/dictionary based on a chosen language or I have to choose a specific spellchecker for each document?

Spellcheckers are services offered by the OS (or the general software library on your computer). Under Linux, the most common spellchecker engine is hunspell and it is usually installed by default. But you must install manually (through the package manager) the variants and dictionaries for the specific languages you intend to use.

To write multi-language documents or single-language non-English documents, you must install

  • the language additional data for the spellchecker (packages named something like hunspell-<ISO-639 2-letter language code> – this is the name for my Fedora distro and may vary for your distribution)

  • the supplementary handling functions and data for LibreOffice (packages named like libreoffice-langpack-<ISO-639-2 language code> – again name depends on distribution)

When this is done, you need to enable the dictionaries in Tools>Options, Language Settings>Writing Aids if they are not already active by default.

Writing a single-language document is very easy. Before you start writing, Tools>Language>For All Text>… and select the language.

Multi-language documents are a bit more complicated. Set first the main language as above. The main language is the one use for most of the text. It can be considered as the “default” document language. In this document, you have paragraphs or sequences of words in another language.

For paragraphs, define derived paragraph styles based on those you are using, e.g. Text Body, Text Body Indent, Heading 1, … The only difference is the selection in the Language drop-down menu of the Font tab. By changing this attribute and nothing else, this derived paragraph style keeps in sync with its “ancestor”. Any modification you make to the “ancestor” is automatically inherited by the derived style. Thus you only need to care for the “ancestor” for formatting.

For sequence of “foreign” words in “default” language paragraphs, you need to define at least one character style with the required language selected in the Font tab. When this sequence should also be emphasized in some way, derive the character style from the corresponding character style you are using for the “default” language, e.g. Emphasis or Strong Emphasis.

The limitation here is only one character style may be applied to a run of character. You can’t then have your “decorating” character style plus the language-forcing character style. You must merge them into a new character style. This results in a multiplication of character styles but this is more consistent and you’ll get used to it quite soon.

Managing multi-language documents is hard and error-prone. So refrain from applying manual formatting which would seem easier but this is wrong because direct formatting always plays bad tricks on your back.

If you are not familiar with styles, read the Writer Guide for an introduction.

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@ajlittoz, thanks so much for this detailed explanation, it’s clear now.