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This email is in reference to the Writer 6.0 Guide, Chapter 16, Master Documents.
Publication date and software version
Published July 2018. Based on LibreOffice 6.0.

1/
In the section "Why use a master document?", I suggest moving the first point later in the list (last), since surely that's the weakest reason? Frankly, the statement "writing, reviewing, and editing may be easier when done on subsets of the full document" is generally the reverse of the truth. Working with a single file is generally far easier than working with dozens. There are some use cases (multiple authors working on separate sections) where the statement is true.

2/
I also suggest adding the use case of producing multiple variants of a single document. In my case (and perhaps an argument for more authors to use LibreOffice), I'm trying it for producing four different editions of a book.

Of course each book variant has its own ISBN, but the other variations across the four versions are:

a) 5x8 paperback
b) 4x7 paperback (smaller font, smaller pages)
c) For Amazon ebook (links to other books are Amazon links)
d) For other stores (non-Amazon, so vendor-neutral links to other books)

3/
Based on feedback here: https://ask.libreoffice.org/en/question/244988/advice-on-replacing-one-documents-contentxml-with-another/
I'm trying to use master documents for my use case.
One problem is that the early section, "Styles in master documents and subdocuments", does not describe how styles work clearly enough to clarify whether master documents will support my workflow.

For it to work, I need the paragraph styles and page styles to come from the master document, not from shared subdocuments. The text in the section referenced (p4, "Why use a master document?") does not clarify that that is possible. In fact, it suggests it will not work:

"The relationship between styles in a master document and its subdocuments is as follows: • Custom styles used in subdocuments, such as paragraph styles, are automatically imported into the master document. • If more than one subdocument uses a custom style with the same name (for example, myBodyText), then only the one in the first subdocument to be linked is imported into the master document. • If a style with the same name exists in the master document and in the subdocuments (for example, Default Style), then the style is applied as defined in the master document. • The styles in the subdocuments are only changed in the master document, so when a subdocument is opened for editing the original styles are not affected."

I think my confusion arises from two things:
1) The term "Custom style" is used without definition.
2) The point that the master document's style is used if subdocs have styles of the same name is the third bullet point rather than the first (to suggest that that rule takes precedence). Note that the 3rd bullet point quoted is contradicted on p6 (see below).

4/
I wish to create the master document.
I just discovered that none of the three methods provided seem to match my needs. I will experiment over the next couple of days in the hope that some method exists to achieve my goal.

5/
On p6, Step 1. Plan the project section it says in part:

"One or more templates for master and subdocuments. If you are starting a new project, create the master document and all the subdocuments from the same template. Not using the same template can create style inconsistencies that could cause your document not to look as you expect. For example, if two subdocuments have a style with the same name that is formatted differently in each document, the master document will use the formatting from the first subdocument that was added."

A couple of comments.
The word "template" is not defined or explained: is the term being used generically in the sense of "pattern" or "example", or specifically, as in a LibreOffice .ott template file? If the latter, there should be some explanation or at least a reference to how to create a suitable template file.

2nd comment: the above paragraph seems to reinforce the idea that you cannot supply the styles from the master document, so that you can included content and have it follow the paragraph and other styles of the master document. If so, this will make Writer useless for my use case.

Another possibility is that the wording should have been:
"if two subdocuments have a style with the same name that is formatted differently in each document, unless that style was provided by the master document, it will use the formatting from the first subdocument that was added."

I hope this feedback is of some use. As I said, I will continue experimenting to see if my use case is supported.

Regards,

luke

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