To make it short, I will address only a few points. As you can guess, style “philosophy” is the corner-stone of Writer. Styles are ubiquitous, contrary to M$ Word which knows only of paragraph styles. Styles are sorted first by category: paragraph, character, frame, page and list (very badly named because they don’t define lists but the a sequence counter which can be associated to lists but also to other objects). I rule out what is presented as “table style” because they are presently not “regular” styles but a collection of macros.
IMHO, other categories could be added, at least for sections and a good design for tables.
For ordinary text formatting, you play with paragraph, character and direct-formatting. Frame and page styles define general geometric aspects of the document. As already mentioned “list” styles are additional attributes which can modify paragraph styles and confer them special properties/behaviour.
Direct formatting is what former Word users like to call “intuitive formatting” because there are buttons and keyboard shortcuts for bold, italics, underline, alignment, font size increase/decrease, … A synonym could be manual formatting. CAUTION! direct formatting is the root of all evil and should be avoided as much as possible. It will always play nasty tricks on your back when you try to polish your document layout.
When it comes to text formatting, your tools are paragraph and character styles plus direct formatting. This how they interact. Consider formatting is a collection of layers above your text to set typographical and geometric attributes.
- the deepest layer is paragraph style
- above it, the character style layer
- atop of both, the direct formatting layer
- exceptionally, an internally-generated layer controlled by specialised character styles (you can ignore this layer in the majority of cases)
When the same attribute is defined in several layers, what you see is the application of the value in the highest level. A non-set attribute is “transparent”. A set attribute hides the same in deeper layers.
WARNING! A “non-set” attribute is not the same as forcing it to unset state. This means that attributes defined by a checkbox are in fact tri-state: non-set, i.e. transparent, enabled and disabled. This distinction is very important when you play smart tricks with the hierarchies.
###Dependency within category
To facilitate managing a collection of styles for sophisticated documents, paragraph and character styles can be structured in a tree-like organisation. This is particular useful when sets of styles are specifically targeted towards specific usages. For example, the Heading n family is intended for chapter headings and Text Body and acquaintances for the main discourse. The styles are then associated with an ancestor and will inherit initially all their attributes from the ancestor (e.g. the font face for this subset). The styles need then override only divergent attributes so that a change in the ancestor also propagate to non-overridden attributes.
Writer is style-driven so that you separate content from appearance. To succeed you must stop of thinking of your text in terms of typographical attributes. Because these attributes are rather limited in numbers, italics may mean different things: it could be an emphasis about a point in your discourse (understatement, irony, relevance, …) or the application of a conventional rule (foreign words are frequently rendered italics).
To give you maximum versatility and liberty in formatting, you should use styles to mark the significance of your text instead of its shape. Since you can create as many styles as you need, you can convey all the semantic nuances in the markup.
Note as an example that you have no “bold” or “italics” built-in character styles. Instead, you find Emphasis and Strong Emphasis and you are free to make them look anyway you like (e.g. blue and red instead of traditional italic and bold).
Avoid direct-formatting because it is not attached to any named style (whether paragraph or character).
Your whole document can be typed without caring for its final aspect as long as you style it adequately.
When you arrive at the proof-reading and formatting tuning, you only adjust the styles.
If there is no direct formatting, any changed is immediately reflected in the document. Contrary to what you state, a change in style applies to any occurrence of text, past and future. But, once again, providing you didn’t use direct-formatting. I know it is tempting to use it because you immediately see the result but you penalise yourself by cutting out the style powerful versatility.
It takes many trials and errors before you achieve a satisfactory collection of styles. Usually you have a preferred look and feel for your documents and you will repeatedly format them the same. Then you can save all your custom-tuned styles in a document called a template. Save it so and next
Templates to choose the template for a new document.
If you have a single template, configure it the default template to make your life easier.
CAUTION! If you are under Window$, never create a new Writer document from the file explorer. Windows wants to outsmart LO and the new document will never reference your template. Always open Writer first to create a new templated document.
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