LibreOffice Writer Help?

Anyone out there good with LibreOffice Writer?  The process of trying to describe the problem is liable to be long and painful, as I lack the vocabulary and the symptoms are a bit involved.  If there’s anyone who is familiar enough with the beast to help me start the process, I’d appreciate it.  It’s slowing my work down, and that annoys me.

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Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 thoughts on “LibreOffice Writer Help?”

  1. Hmmm; I’ve used it some, and used its predecessor Open Office a bit more, but do not claim to be an expert. It’s also what Pamela is using (I think the older Open Office version).

    What do you need?

  2. Skyler and I are passing chapters back and forth. Intermittently, whole sections have garbage characters (looking like Chinese) replacing parts of the text.

    It is always a double-quote mark that screws up.

    A search for the double-quote mark in any file reveals nothing, so obviously LibreOffice is replacing ” with something it thinks is better.

    The faunt on my computer is “courier 10 pitch”; Sky doesn’t have that faunt on her wordprocessor, but she has something called courier.

    When I download chapters from her, they are fine; it is only after I’ve done an edit, closed the file, and reopened it that sometimes one section is screwed up.

    The term “section” refers to a part of the chapter that was the original unit of the file. Let me explain. When writing the first draft, we alternated sections, later combining them into chapters. It is one or more of these sections that are liable to be screwed up.

    The problem started back then.

    Missing information: Skyler’s wordprocesser. I’ll ask what she’s using; my guess is Microsoft Office.

    All files are saved in rich text format.

  3. Turn off “Smart Quotes”.

    In Libre Office, that should be:
    Tools >> Autocorrect Options, then uncheck the “Replace” checkbox for Double Quotes.

    MS Office has a similar option. Once you’re both using real double-quotes instead of non-ASCII “balanced” quotes the problem will disappear.

    Also you could use a different font, which you both actually have. Lucida Console from this page ( would be one possibility since you both like monospaced fonts.

  4. I’m pretty sure that’s the problem, Carl. My assumption is that turning off smart quotes will prevent future occurrences; can you think of a way to easily go through a file and remove all smartquotes, replacing them with standard double-quotes?

  5. The standard search-and-replace tool seems to work. Just copy/paste one of the offending quotes into the “Search for” box, and a standard double-quote into the “Replace with” box. Do this for both the opening and closing smart quote, and you should be fine.

  6. Seth: I wasn’t precise, sorry. Is there any way to replace them in the files that are screwed up–that is, where what was a ” has turned into a Chinese character?

  7. I don’t suppose its been consistent in its choice of Chinese characters? If it has, the same trick should work.

    If not, it may be possible to do the replacement using Linux magic; RTF is a pretty simple format, and special (non-ASCII) characters should be able to be stripped away (or replaced with quotation marks) using a single ‘sed’ command.

    Someone more with more skill than me in such things should be able construct the appropriate command quickly.

    I’m no guru, but if you can’t find one yourself, feel free to email me a small working example file, and I’d be happy to do what I can. (Or to be safe, you can just email me the entire manuscript :) ).

  8. I don’t know if you want to get that geeky, but if you have a before and its after, you can compare the two files. (I like “Beyond Compare”.)
    If it’s a simple fuckup, a simple hex editor can fix it.

  9. Seth and Neil: Thanks much. I ended up being able to do it at the cost of going back an edit pass or two, which isn’t too bad.

  10. @Carl – Damn, I considered that, too, but it seemed too obvious! Hahaha! Broke my own rule; The obvious answer is usually the right one!

    Glad you got the answer.

  11. Thank you all for doing this in the comments!
    I use LibreOffice on my Linux laptop (yay open source!) and MS Word on my Windows PC to write my novel depending on where I am (using Dropbox to store the file so it’s accessible by both), and that has caused me similar issues as Mr. Brust’s, and more.
    So I’m very happy to be witness to these suggestions! :)

    (Side note: I’m happy to brag that I finished my first novel just this week!) :D

  12. While I’m asking about LibreOffice, here’s another, less important issue:

    Tools -> Options ->LibreOffice Writer->Basic Fonts permits me to set defaults for font type and size. There is a box to check that says, “Current document only.” And yet, even though that box is unchecked, it won’t preserve the defaults I want beyond my current document. Is this a bug or a feature? Is there a way to tell it, “No, THESE defaults, and I MEAN it!”?

  13. For collaborating on documents with relatively simple layouts (like manuscripts), how about using Google docs? Docs don’t have as many fancy features as Word or even Libre, but the collaboration capabilities are very good — IMO superior to the desktop alternatives. The kind of problem you describe will obviously never arise.

    Of course if you won’t have network access for a while or are otherwise concerned about availability, you can always save docs files to desktop in some standard format readable by Libre Office or Word or whatever.

    Disclaimer: currently working for Google.

  14. We actually did use Google docs for certain sections, where we had to write scenes together, and it worked well. But it isn’t as comfortable to actually work in all the time. Of course, if I had my way, we’d do the whole thing in emacs and not have to worry about it.

  15. Emacs, hell yes! You know about “M-x dissociated press”, right? Just don’t run it on a buffer of your own writing or you will be sad.

    But if you just agree to use text, you can use emacs and if your collaborator doesn’t have a strong enough pinkie finger or memory for the control and meta commands, he or she can use TextEdit or some damn thing like that…. When you’re done you can always import it into ODT or whatever for formatting.

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