Page break thoughts

What are people’s thoughts on page breaks?

I got into a weird state that I suspect may have been due to Manual Page Breaks in the wrong places. It has gone now, so there is no point trying to describe it here. But the Manual Page Break seems counter-intuitive. The last time I asked something like this, I was asked to file a bug. This time I am less confident, but I will file one if people agree.


Sticking in a Page Break into the text ought to divide the text at that point into this page and the next page. The next page will have a page format that will be the default to follow the current format. So far, so good.

You can insert a line or column page break if the page format supports it. Maybe these choices should be greyed out if the page format does not support them, but this is no big deal. I guess this can wrap onto the next page if we exceed the row or line count, but I have not used this.

The Page Format is a property of the current page. This is presumably the page with the cursor in, though you may be able to change the page with the arrow keys without placing the cursor anywhere. It does not seem right to insert a Manual Page Break it where the cursor currently is (if that is what it does). The page format and number would normally be inherited from the previous page, but there could be a dialogue to force a particular page format, and/or override the page number a lot like the Manual Page Break dialogue, or we could restore the defaults.

Any comments?

The Page Format is a property of the current page

This statement is quite wrong and results in other wrong statements. You have to learn more about page styles.

I am not sure to grasp your points. What is counter-intuitive in page breaks? The way to insert them? The effect they have on text? I’m afraid you likely take the problem the wrong way, so please explain your mental model about pages or page breaks. I’ll then try to answer or describe my mental model (I’m no developer so I use a mental model for Writer behaviour. It might not be what’s implemented but it has always worked correctly up to now.

The Page Format is a property of the current page.

This may be a relevant misconception.
Pages aren’t objects, and they therefore cannot have properties. Pages are by default created on the fly when a page-wrap is needed for the display or for printing.
If a forced pagebreak is created (“manually”), it is a property of the first paragraph to start the new page with (may probably be a property of the last paragraph of a page under specific circumstances).

You will also need to distinguish whether or not the new page-starting paragraph has an explicitly set pagestyle. If so, it is the start of a new sequence of pages which may start a new series of page numbers e.g… This even makes a difference if the newly set pagestyle is the same as the previous one.
A subsequent change of the page style will always apply to the complete sequence.
The pagestyle is set for the new page sequence by assigning it to its first paragraph on creation of the break.

A subsequent change of the page style will always apply to the complete sequence.

Correction: it will apply to all complete sequences of the same page style in a document.

Well… Sorry… Bad wording… My bad!
I can no longer edit the comment containing the error.

I didn’t want to talk of changing the PageStyle object using the respective editor, or (probably inadvertently) by direct page formatting which also would change the style object.
I wanted to talk of assigning a different named PageStyle via the “Stylist” (F11 e.g.) addressing the current selection.
See: pageSequenceDemo.odt

The preconceptions about page formatting most likely come from using Word, WordPerfect or Apple Pages. AFAIK they all pimarily (perhaps exclusively) use that “horizontal inheritance”, where page layout properties are inherited from previous page, and changes to those properties on one page apply to subsequent pages.

In the “OpenOffice family”, and probably for other apps using ODF as the native storage format (should any such apps exist), there is an added “layer of abstraction”, namely the page style. This allows for “vertical inheritance”. Writer uses this exclusively. Even if it looks to be possible, Writer does not provide for direct page formatting.

Any page break may carry (or imply) a switch of page style. The identification of the page style itself is the only property received from the previous page. All actual page formatting is taken from the settings in the page style.

While this additional abstraction requires some learning, it is not difficult. For large documents it is a significant improvement over the “intuitive ways” of other word processors.

You can edit a page style explicitly, by using the styles/formatting dialog. When you alter page formatting manually, you also implicitly edit the page style for that page, which will affect all other pages using the same style.

That “felt” direct page formatting changes the style as opposed to the behavior concerning character attributes and paragraph attributes should be supposed to be obfuscating. Things would probably be faster learned (and appreciated??) if every change to the page style (including the creation of a header/footer) would require to edit the style. After all nobody to date died from exhaustion because he needed to go to the style to remove a header from it. To the contrary many users may have wasted hours (at least many minutes) attempting to remove the header from a single page. Trying to save seconds is often a sure way to waste hours. In this special case, I must concede, the shortcut is well supported.

Things would probably be faster learned…

…if users would RTFM/STFW, that’s it.

if every change to the page style (including the creation of a header/footer) would require to edit the style.

They actually do. Unlike paragraphs/characters, any change in page formatting is a change in the respective style.

The question for what we might call a manual or the web “fuckin’” aside, talking of the Writer guide (currently 6.4) I doubt if anybody but (hopefully) one of the authors or somebody involved in publishing ever read it completely. It has 453 pages after all. I myself, at least, never did. However I tried to find the concept of (as I call it) “page sequence” there and did not succeed. (To the contrary I found a misleading statement.) About the insertion of a page-break “with explicit style” there is (afaik) no mention of setting the previous style also as the new one.
Don’t misunderstand me. I highly appreciate the engagement of the editors of the guides. The problem is that the matter was allowed to get complicated the way it is. You simply cannot write a complete, correct, long-term usable manual where users actualyl can find every currently needed information.
To close the gap forums and Q&A sites are made - and thats what you may find when trying STFW.

@gabix: “…They actually do…”
Of course, I know that, and I though that was clear to anybody having read my statements. What I actually addressed was the fact that (concerning Header/Footer) there is a shortcut. You can create a Header, e.g. for a page style not yet having one, by clicking into the top margin and… This way you don’t see the page-style editor. I also stated “…the shortcut is well supported”.
If you can point me to the lines of the guide informing about setting the old page-style also as the new one explicitly when inserting a manual break, and about the consequences as opposed to those of a simple hard pagebreak, please do so.
I learned about it due to “amazing” experiences, and I confirmed the “mental model” I got by insepecting objects with the help of user code. In case you are interested I can tell you the details.
In short: There is a mostly unused paragraph property .PageDescName used to manage the matter.

Either this is answered or I withdraw the question because it was badly put. Either way, we are probably done.

I note that there are soft page breaks when the text overflows the page. There can also be hard page breaks where we insert a new-page code even if there may be room. There is an obvious analogy with line-wrap and adding a new-line character. In both cases the character is invisible, but goes when it is deleted.

I also note we sometimes need to change the page style or the page numbering. These parameters are probably located with the new-page code. The parameters ought to be located in the text because that is where the change happens. But this feels like something different: we are starting a new section, and not just a new page, and this ought to be visible somehow. If we delete the text that includes this invisible character, maybe the new-section code should survive.

I am not saying we need to change how the code works. But there is some cognitive dissonance here. If we can pin down what it is, we may be able to get something that works more naturally.

  1. Do not answer your own question unless it is a real answer.
  2. What do you mean under soft page breaks? Page breaks are page breaks. They just can be with or without style change.
  3. You initial posting contains at least two questions namely What are people’s thoughts on page breaks? and Any comments?. Not really good ones because too broad, but your posting contains valid points that have been commented/answered. Thus, I think, it should remain.

I didn’t post an answer, but I tried to pin a few facts, with my comments above. And I attached an example there which may help everybody to gain the needed experience in a playful way.
Though I well remember that I also needed some time to understand the concept of page styles in LibreOffice and the way it works, I see clear advantages. It simply should be teached everywhere, and concious users of text processors would surely prefer it. (Unfortunately MS will know ways to hinder that.)
Anyway: The faint analogy with the line-wrap may not be really helpful in understanding page styles.
There surely are no line styles e.g.
There are paragraph styles, however. But they don’t form sequences, and a paragraph stryle must therefore be assigned to every paragraph itselt (often automatically, of course), instead of just to one paragraph starting a new sequence. Concerning the border properties there is a skew inconistency causing problems again and again.

(Sorry for the length!)
If you assign a different named paragraph style to just one of a series of paragraphs having the same style, only the single paragraph will be afflicted.

To clarify my ‘soft page break’ comment earlier…

I would normally write content and rely on the automatic page breaking. However, with scientific documents there are often diagrams with accompanying text. Once the text is close to its final form, I often insert page breaks to tweak the layout. I am happy with deleting a page break, even though it is a character I cannot see. This is what I was thinking of as a ‘soft page break’.

I have a division between the initial pages of my current document, and the beginning of the body. I change the page numbering, and the numbering style. I have accidentally deleted this break, and ended up with Roman numerals throughout. It seems wrong that I can delete this so easily: I still want to divide the initial pages and the chapters, even if I want to tweak the layout.

When I first wrote I had not then met the page style setting that sets the style of the next page. Or wanted different left and right layouts.

Soft page breaks could be shown as formatting symbols,

So they can be searched for/ changed for hard breaks, as needed.

That’s my 2 cents,

Would be very very helpful for me now…

(just Fyi as I need to keep each page’s text on the current pages, while changing to columns.

And now the text moves, as the page numbers decrease)


Writer shows the manual page breaks with a blue dotted line but there is no user-accessible formatting code. By this, I mean there is no regexp code for them in Edit>Find & Replace.

“Soft” page breaks may occur anywhere, even in the middle of a word. “Hard” page break always cause a paragraph break. Where a “soft” page break is only a location in the document, a “hard” page break carries a lot of information and control with it. So, changing one for the other is not trivial. What information would you add? In case you discard it, which paragraph style should you keep: previous, next or merge both and how?

And again…

Soft page breaks simply don’t exist in the sense most users talking of them assume. The automatism doesn’t break the document into pages, but creates a page wrapping of the document as a whole.
As soon as you change any property of a paragraph style e.g. (font size or font weight or an indentation typically) the complete wrapping must be done anew.