Archive for the ‘August 2007’ Category

Style Is Everything

December 5, 2007

It’s 4:00 pm and Maria had just finished printing her 50- page term paper that is due at 5:00 pm. She submits a copy to her teacher , who notices that her formating is all wrong. The font style and size should be Times New Roman , 10 instead of Arial, 12. The headings should be bold rather than underlined. The first line of each paragraph should be indented, .5 inches. Lists should be numbered, not bulleted.

With one hour left to edit her 50-page term paper, she will not be able to meet the deadline — unless she had used the styles feature in OpenOffice.org. Thankfully, she did! She makes all the changes in less than 5 minutes, with enough time to spare for printing.

Before styles were available, users had to edit documents using menus and toolbars. These manual overrides took a lot of time, specially if changes were applicable only to specific parts of the document , such as headings, rather than the entire document. The styles feature in OpenOffice.org are a more efficient way to format documents .

What are styles?
Styles are a list of format settings. It is a way to format parts of a document automatically so that manual overrides are no longer necessary . When you modify the styles, the new format is applied to all parts of the document to which you applied that style. Styles can also be applied to documents created in other OpenOffice.org applications.

Wordprocessors can assign physical attributes to documents. For example, text is assigned a font style , font size and typeface (e.g. Courier, 12pt, bold). OpenOffice.org styles assign logical attributes . To differentiate between physical and logical attributes, think of how you describe your car to someone you just met. You do not ordinarily say (unless this is specifically the topic of your conversation ) that your car has a 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged aluminum 32-valve V8 engine with unequal length wishbones with pushrod-activated shock and spring for suspension. Instead , you describe it as a Cadillac or a Toyota. To say that your car is a Cadillac is to imply that it has the physical attributes associated with that type of car.

Why use styles?
Styles help improve the consistency in a document and make major formatting changes easy. If you decide to change the font size and font style of all level 2 headings, you do not have to select all level 2 headings on each page and edit them separately. All you have to do is update the formatting associated with the Heading 2 style, and all the text that were assigned a Heading 2 style are updated automatically.

OpenOffice.org Writer has five categories of styles. Paragraph styles are associated with an entire paragraph. Character styles are associated with text inside a paragraph. Page styles affect page formatting, which includes page size, margin and orientation. Frame styles are used to format frames and graphics. List styles affect numbered lists and bulleted lists.

Let us first look into paragraph styles.

Paragraph styles
To add styles to paragraphs, first create a new document . ( File > New > Text Document or press Control+N). Type the title or heading . Leave the cursor in that same line. Click the Styles and Formatting icon located on the Formatting Bar or press the F11 key. This opens the Styles and Formatting window. Double-click the Heading 1 entry of Styles and Formatting. This will do two things:
● Apply the Heading 1 style to the title or heading you just typed and;
● Add Heading 1 to the Apply Style menu found on the Formatting toolbar.

Once the style is included in the Apply Style menu , you can use this to apply styles to text instead of the Styles and Formatting toolbar.

Modifying paragraph styles
Suppose you are unhappy with the formatting associated with Heading 1. To modify the style, Heading 1, right click on Heading 1 on the Styles and Formatting box. Two options will open- New and Modify. Select Modify. The Paragraph style box appears. Choose the proper formats (e.g. Indents, alignments, text flow, font, etc.). Then press OK. The parts of the document that are tagged as Heading 1 are updated automatically.

(To be continued next week)

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