Friday, May 28, 2010

Open Office Writer - Changing page orientation mid document

Despite this being one of my original goals in my Open Office challenge, I realise I have yet to blog the steps to achieve this. And funnily enough, one of my colleagues asked me just yesterday how to do this.

So what is it we're trying to achieve exactly? Lets say I have a multiple page document (8 pages for arguments sake). It's a portrait document, however, on page 5 I've got a table, or picture, (or whatever) that looks better with the page in a landscape orientation. But then pages 6, 7 and 8 are back to normal and need to be portrait.

I used to find this really difficult to do in OO, even while following the help file. Now? It's a doddle!

To make page 5 landscape, while keeping pages 6,7,8 portrait
First a couple of assumptions:
  • you're using at least version 3.2.0 of Open Office
  • your default page layout is portrait (so when you create a blank document, it is automatically in portrait orientation).
  1. Place you cursor after the very last character or element on page 5 (the page you want to be landscape).
  2. Go to Insert | Manual Break
  3. Change the Type to 'Page Break'
  4. Click the 'Style' drop down and select 'Default'. (This is essentially telling the document to use the default page style AFTER the page break you're inserting)
  5. Hit Ok. Nothing will appear to have changed at this point.
  6. Now place your cursor after the last character or element on page 4 - immediately before the page you want in landscape orientation.
  7. Go to Insert | Manual Break
  8. It should default to Page Break - if not, select Page Break.
  9. Click the 'Style' drop down and select Landscape and click OK.
  10. Now, page 5 will be in landscape orientation, and if you scroll down, you'll see that page 6 returns to portrait - that's because of the break you inserted at step 4 above.
Problems? I discovered a gotcha! (let me know if you have others and I'll update this post).
While I was doing this to type up the instructions, page 5 didn't rotate to landscape at step 10 for me. This was because I just had an enormous continuous stream of text from page 1 all the way through to page 8. So, put a carriage return at the end of page 4, and also at the end of page 5.

By the way - if you're creating a document and you know as you get to page 5 that you want it to be in landscape, you can just end page 4 with the manual break and style of Landscape, and then as you reach the end of your landscape content, insert the second manual page break with the Default style. I do it the opposite way above (by explicitly ENDING the landscape section even before I've created it) in a finished document because otherwise every page after 5 will rotate t0 landscape before you add the next break at the end of that page - which can be a little disconcerting! I hope that makes sense!