Desktop Publishing with OpenOffice.org
Click the Text tool on the Main Toolbar and hold the mouse button down for a moment to allow the text tear-off to appear. Move the tear-off to a convenient place, as we are going to use it later.
If you are creating a complex document with different text formatting, using Styles greatly increases your productivity. Using Styles is beyond this article, but information is available in the OO.o help and on-line (see Resource).
Click the large T in the tear-off and the pointer turns to a cross. Place the cross--the insertion point--at a point on the document were one corner of the text box should be. Then, hold down the left-mouse button and drag to the diagonal opposite point of the text box. Releasing the mouse button results in a blinking cursor on the box, object handles and a hatched-border of the box. The text box is shown back in Figure 1.
The Object Toolbar changes when you release the mouse button. Text formatting options are now displayed. You can change font, size, color and other attributes.
I've typed some example text in Figure 1, not what I actually used in my document. When done, the border disappears but the handles remain. The pointer has turned to a cross with arrows on the ends, indicating that we can move the text box around. Hold down the left mouse button and try it.
So, how do we change the font, size and color? In this mode we can't. You need to click on the T in the text tear-off again to return to text editing mode. The hatched border re-appears with the blinking cursor. Now you can highlight the text and change formatting. In Figure 7, I've changed the word quick to a blue color and italicized it and the word brown to a brown color and boldfaced it.
With complex or important projects it is important to save changes to your work or be able to return to a defined edit point. Opening the Tools -> Options -> Load/Save dialog box lets you set various options for how often to save. Expanding the OpenOffice.org choice and selecting View allows you to set the level of undo steps and the amount of memory allocated to saved objects. But you really need to save changes at critical points yourself. Remember, you are smarter than the computer.
Now, let's find and insert a graphic. I wanted a holiday Tux for my gift card. The first place I looked was the penguin gallery on the Linux Weekly News Web site. I looked through several pages and tried a few, but nothing really looked right. The one I finally liked (Figure 8) was from The World Famous Tux Gallery.
Once you've found the graphic you want to use, you need to insert it into your document. Either click Insert -> Graphics -> From File or open the Insert Tear-Off on the Main Toolbar and select Insert Graphic. Then navigate to the file and click Open. You should see the graphic placed in the center of your document.
Now, you need to place the graphic where you want it and resize it. Click on the graphic make it the active layer. Handles and a cross should appear, indicating you can resize and move the graphic. Hold down the left-mouse button and move the graphic into the planned position as we saw in Figure 2. Don't worry if it isn't precise, we can make fine adjustments later. Now, grab onto a handle and resize the graphic. Remember, if it is a bitmap image, such as a .jpg, you might lose some image quality if you make it too large. Vector graphics, including .gifs and .pngs, don't suffer from this problem.
Now comes the fun part. We need to rotate the graphic into its proper orientation. This graphic will be rotated 180-degrees from its original position. OO.o gives you many ways to do this. First, click on the graphic to make sure it is active (the handles are visible). Then right-click on the graphic, select Flip -> Vertically. Then, flip it back.
Let's have some real fun. Open the Effects Tear-Off on the Main Toolbar. You should see a semi-circle icon with an arrow. A pop-up appears with the Rotate label. Click the Rotate icon, and if the resize (green) handles still are active, you should see them change to red dots (see Figure 3). Place the pointer on a corner dot, and it changes to a semi-circle with an arrow. Placing the pointer on a middle dot changes it to a "you can't do that" symbol. You also should see a small circle in the center of the image indicating a center point. Here's a hint: place the pointer over this center point icon. It changes to a hand pointer, as shown in Figure 9. You can change the Pivot Point by holding the left-mouse button and dragging this icon to the spot you want to set as the pivot point. Now, rotate the graphic and see what happens. Pretty cool, huh? You can return to the previous position by pressing CTL-Z, as before.
The defaults for the base point and the pivot point can be set by having the graphic set active (the green reposition handles appear) and choosing Format -> Position and Size. The dialog box has three tabs that allow you to set several attributes.
Let's put a text box above the graphic and then insert the text. We need to rotate the text box. With the text box active, showing the green position and size handles, select Rotate from the Effects Tear-Off (or, select Modify -> Rotate from the pull-down menu). The green handles change to red, and the Pivot Point icon appears. Grab one of the corner handles with your mouse and rotate the text box into position.
My only real gripe is why there isn't a Flip option for text boxes. That would be helpful here. Maybe there will be one in a future release.
Now, make fine adjustments. Save your work and print it out. Review for changes, and make them. Show your work off and have it reviewed if necessary. Congratulations! You are now a desktop publishing expert.