Writer: How to Insert Frames from Subdocuments into a Master Document

Hi all,

First post here. I’ll provide more information to the post upon request, sorry in advance if it not complete enough. I am using LibreOffice Writer to create a fillable PDF form with checkboxes and textboxes, and after some trial and error, ended up using a ton of frames to create my first document. However, I’m continuing to add some more sections and it is getting quite cumbersome to insert a single page between frames that are anchored to the page that they’re on. I’ve played around with anchoring as characters/ to paragraphs/ to characters and just gotten myself in a whole lot of trouble so I looked around and found that a master document might be good for what I’m trying to do. However, when I try to insert a subdocument into the master document, all I get are light gray outlines but no content. It also seems like there is a small globe with an x on it (invalid hyperlink?) but I’m not sure what that means.

image description

Can anyone provide any help?

Thanks a ton,



Difficult to tell without the document itself.

About anchors: “To Page” is not your friend, it welds the objects to a designated page (if the current page is 1, all objects will be for ever on page 1 even if add pages before what was page 1). The most usual and versatile mode is To Paragraph. IMHO, this would be the right mode for a form where the label is the paragraph and the anchored object is the fillable placeholder (check box, text entry box, etc.).

I feel that a master doc with subdocs is uselessly complicated for your goal.

Edit your question for additional details, comment for discussion.

Ajlittoz, thank you for your thought and time. Yes, I was thinking that a bit myself. I really just about three days new to LibreOffice and my first day was painfully learning that importing a document from microsoft word to convert into .odt and then making a pdf fillable form out of that, is, simply put, a terrible idea. I still have to wade through more documentation to understand when to use labels and when not to, (there are breakdown hierarchies of system parameters), but I can try changing the anchor settings.

I’m not too far in to completely reverse track at this time. And honestly, I’d be happy to share my documents with you if you are willing!

I do think the idea of a master doc is appealing, just because I’ve had so much trouble with editing one thing on page 6 (for example) and then suddenly being thrown back to a random insertion of a box onto page 2 (for example). So, that was immensely frustrating. Although, I am prone to get caught hacking at the weeds.

*Bumping a comment for posting back the results of my changes. PS. Ajlittoz, I tried to upvote your comment, but I do not have sufficient points to do so.

Karma points are 1) a weak protection against spammer as newcomers have very limited capabilities and 2) a rewarding system to introduce you to more and more powerful privileges when you demonstrate by regular sign-ins you are really interested in this site.

I’ll be interesting looking at your doc. Edit your question and use the paperclip tool to attach a sample file (2-3 pages max, hide confidential information where needed but don’t destroy your present formatting). Files can’t be attached to comments.

BTW, an under-estimated feature is View>Formatting Marks which gives you some insight on what’s going on in your doc.

With so many frames, drawing objects and form controls, your document no longer looks like a standard text document. You could as well have designed it with Draw, but for the form semantics.

The basic flaw is to have anchored all your objects To Page. Taking the example of the identification sub-document, the text box for the “Pressure side” title is anchored to page. This means it is anchored for ever to page 1 (which was current when you inserted the box) of the “Identification” file. When you merge this document into the master, it is laid out on some page of the master which is not the same as Identification page 1. Therefore the box is not there.

Changing for a more common anchor like To Paragraph will not solve the problem: you’ll spend a hell of time trying to fix size, position and the rest. Moreover I suspect that these attributes do not forward to the master because the objects are not inserted directly into the master. So tuning in the sub-document does not follow in the master.

I have begun to redesign your form using a more conventional approach with paragraph styles, lists, … and no frames. Thus I benefit the full formatting power of Writer without the hassle of frames. Form controls are anchored As Character and some padding is added to space them from other text. Unfortunately, there is no style associated to form controls which would allow to set all these attributes (size, padding, …) with a mere double-click.

This skeleton document for identification will give you the taste of it. I created FormSection, FormSubsection and Item paragraph styles to structure the document. List 1 is used to indent lists like in “Pump location”. Customise to your needs. In particular, if you don’t want the bullet to be visible (modify the character style of the bullet).

When merged in the master document, everything goes fine as long as you don’t forget to import the style collection used in the sub-docs. The best way is to build a template and use it for all files.

The exported PDF form behaves as expected.

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I didn’t think I’d ever get this excited downloading a .odt file, but hey, you know sometimes christmas comes early. Seriously, this was a great help. The wonders of paragraph styling! For anyone who comes and reads this comment, please do not bother with frames (unless you somehow know better than me), it is just a massive waste of time. Paragraph styling can do nearly everything and likely more than frames. I’m fine tuning the styling right now, but I anticipate working muuuuuuuch quicker throughout the document now. Your help will likely save me hours.

Edit: Please shower this responder with karma as I cannot.

Hi, maybe not the appropriate place to comment this questions, but how did you pad the form check boxes? I want to change the settings, but I can’t for the life of me find any resources on the web or figure it out myself.

Edit: Nevermind, I got it through using wrap.

The padding control is indeed in the wrap tab.