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Creating Unique Headers and Footers in Writer

You create unique headers and footers in one document in Open Office Writer (Writer) by using the page styles available in Writer. Page styles in Writer are like creating master pages in InDesign: page features (text, graphics, etc.) are stored in the style. When a page style is active on a page, the style name is highlighted in the Page Styles pane of the Styles and Formatting palette.

Header and footer text associated with a particular style is entered on a page tagged with that style.

The procedure below describes how to create new page styles, apply the page styles, and then modify the headers and footers associated with each page style. You can also use this procedure with existing page styles by starting after after the first section.

Creating New Page Styles

  1. Open or create a multi-page document.
    Tip: To add new pages, use the Manual Break option from the Insert menu. By using this method, you can also change the page number and choose the style for the new page.
  2. Insert Break dialog

  3. Choose Format > Styles and Formatting to display the Styles and Formatting palette.
  4. Click the fourth icon in the palette’s toolbar to display the Page Styles palette. You will use this palette to create, modify, and remove pages styles from this document.
  5. Place your cursor on the first page of the document.
  6. In the Page Styles palette, right-click in the dialog and choose New… from the pop-up menu.
  7. New Page Style

  8. On the Page Style dialog, choose the options for the page style and save changes by pressing OK. On the Header and Footer tab, make sure the options are turned on. (Text for the headers and footers is not entered in this dialog.)
    Tip: You may or may not want headers or footers active on the first page of a document.
  9. Repeat the above steps for however many pages styles your document requires.

Adjusting Page Style Flow: Next Style

Let’s say that you want to automatically have these running headers appear on left- and right-facing pages (except for the title page):

  • The left-facing page header (defined in the Left Page style) will have the document title and
  • The right-facing page header (defined in the Right Page style) will display the page number.

Open Office Writer lets you define the next style that follows a particular style. In this example, the Left Page style would be modified using the Page Style dialog so the Right Page style is chosen as the Next Style.

The Right Page style would also have to be changed so the Next Style drop-down box has Left Page chosen.

Applying Page Styles

  1. With your cursor on your first page, double-click on the name of the style you would like to apply to the first page.
  2. If the style has a header turned on, enter content in the header. Once you set a page style on one page, OOWriter automatically applies that same page to each subsequent page that does not have a style assigned.
  3. Go to the next page in the document. Place your cursor on the page test. On the Page Styles palette, double-click the name of the next page style you wish to use.
  4. If headers are turned on, the header at the top of the page will be blank. Enter a new header for this page and possibly the next if you are using left-right facing pages with different header/footer content.
  5. Check the pages in the document. Later pages in the document should have the second page style you created. The first page should still contain the first page header contents. If it does not, return to the Page Styles palette and double-click the name of the first page style you created. The header content will reappear.

You should now be able to place your cursor on a page and apply any of the pages styles to individual pages.

These instructions were written using Open Office Writer 2.3 in X-Windows on the Mac. The steps were also checked in OOWriter 2.4 for Microsoft Windows.

Additional Resources

Trouble? Suggestions?

If you have any trouble with this tutorial, please leave a comment. I’m happy to update the document.


Edit on October 10, 2008. Updates from comments found on the Open Office Writer forums.

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