Page Offsets - An actually viable solution

There are multiple questions on how to use page offsets. No solution seems to be viable. If you use the offset option (double click the page number) it will result in blank entries for pages with a higher number than the number of pages in the document. Similarly it is not clear how to offset the number of pages in the document. An alternative solution is proposed in

but apart from editing a paragraph style being a completely crazy way to implement an offset it also does not solve the issue that the total number of pages still cannot be offset. Is there any reasonable method available?

There is a frequent misconception about page offset.

It is in no way intended to change the current page number. The page number is an intrinsic property of a page style. It may occasionally be reset or restarted at any value but it remains a monotonic counter completely managed internally.

Page offset is intended to get the page number of an existing page located at offset from the current page, forward or backward. The most common request is for ±1, i.e. next or previous page. Since this returns the number of an existing page, the field value is “void” when the designated page does not exist.

Your question is probably about a procedure to force a starting page number. As mentioned above, the page number counter is a property of a page style. Consequently, you must interact with the page style. This is done with a special page break and its effect on text flow. You have two possibilities:

  • manual insertion of Insert>More Breaks>Manual Break for one-of-a-kind reset
  • or Text Flow tab of any paragraph style when this paragraph style must always start a new page (e.g. a Heading 1 to start a chapter)

However, there is a restriction here. Writer implicitly considers that document is duplex-printed. Consequently, it enforces a “parity” rule to avoid messing up traditional typography rules: odd-numbered pages always appear at right while even-numbered pages appear at left. If you are in an odd-numbered page when you request a page break with an odd-numbered forced page number (and vice versa for even numbers), Writer will insert a blank page to enforce the typography rule.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to inform Writer that document is logically single-sided so that the rule is not followed.

“Offsetting” total page count is nonsensical. Page count is the total number of pages managed by Writer. That’s all.

Though I understand that some applications could need a “modified” page count, e.g. not counting cover pages, dedication, TOC, …, there is no way to do it. What is missing in Writer is some kind of formula computation where factors could be internal variables like page count, current page number, current chapter number, … But you should first accept the inconsistencies which may result from inconsiderate use.

With a combination of page number reset and cross-references, it is possible to label header or footer with something like <page_number_in_chapter>/<page_count_in_chapter> but this can’t span several chapters unless some dirty trick is used to twist chapter outline (I’m thinking of using level-1 to create the part to measure and level-2 for chapter headings; but there may be unexpected side-effects).

Presently, page offsets work perfectly provided you use them according to their specification.

I understand that that is how the designers might see an offset. It is clearly not how users see it. See the numerous questions and the “common misconception” that you mention. I think the majority of users in fact are seeking for a way for the page count to start at a specific number. It is this application that I call offset here and that I seek and as you explain there clearly is not a satisfactory way to do this. Whether there is some satisfactory method to do some other operation (which honestly should not be called offset) isn’t really relevant to my question. Clearly it is very often practical to have the total number of pages according to the offset starting count as well. Think of any time you write page x out y. So it is a shame that such a simple operation is not possible.

The main issue here is a question of vocabulary about “offset”.

Regarding page number, a better word would be “forced starting value” (but it is too long to used in practice). I explained it is associated with a page break and IMHO it is satisfactory as is.

The issue with page count is different. Page count should remain what is it is presently because a count can’t be fiddled with (or rather should not). What you need in fact is the final value of the page counter for some part of the document. There is a contorted way to capture this value and I admit it is not easily newbie-accessible. It is a generic method, not specialised in any way for a specific purpose. Consequently, it may eventually be qualified as not user-friendly.

Before proposing a public solution, message me privately to describe your present case and what you need with full detail. I’d explain the generic solution and you can then tell me if you find it too complicated.