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Hello all,I've been thinking for quite a long time on tab setting semantics.
Presently, when you design a tabbed layout in one of your paragraph styles,
you set tab stops at a distance measured from the left margin (or rather
from the margin origin in your writing system, left fot LTR and right for
In some circumstances, this is inadequate. For example, when you design a
Table-of-Contents layout, you may have a tab stop for the outline text
(coming from Heading 1-9) to line up all titles after the varying length
section number and another (right justified) tab stop at the right margin.
These tabs are defined as being xx centimeters or inches from the left
Suppose everything is tuned up for A4-portait paper. Now what if the
document is printed on Legal or Executive stationery? What if document or
TOC is switched from portrait to lanscape orientation?
The current way of dealing with this situation is to manually modify the
paragraph style.
My feeling is we could deal with this in a more user-friendly way if tabs
has another attribute: "*/anchor origin/*".
I define "*/anchor origin/*" as the horizontal coordinate between the
margins from where tab stops are measured. To have the largest usefulness,
this "*/anchor origin/*" is not given as an /absolute/ distance because we
usually think of layout as "middle of the margin", "one quarter left" or
"one third right" to position text or objects at 1/2, 1/4 or 2/3 between the
Hence, an "*/anchor origin/*" at the left margin (in LTR, right in RTL) is
0%, at the right margin 100%, in the middle 50%, etc.
/Note: I do not think there is any usefulness to allow any value outside
0-100% because layouts outside margins are usually expressed as absolute
positionning relative to page or one of the margins, and also because
justification takes place only between the margins./
Now, when defining tab stops, there should be a way to reference an
"*/anchor origin/*" next to the distance box, either by selecting among a
list of previously user-defined "*/anchor origin/*" or by entering a
percentage value.
To illustrate this with the TOC example, the title tab is 2cm from anchor 0%
and the page tab number is 0cm from 100%. In case we have very long titles
needing several lines, we can achieve a pleasant visual effect by leaving a
wide right margin and defining the page number tab stop as 0.5cm from 100%,
/i.e./ the number set inside the right margin.
This same "trick" may be used if the TOC is laid out in 2 colums with a wide
gutter to set the page number inside the gutter and the right margin.
If we want to lay out lists of word symetrically relative to the page
center, we can use 2 tab stops as -1cm, right justify from 50% and 1cm, left
justify from 50%.
Possible extension
If "*/anchor origins/*" have names or are independant styles like bullet
definitions, changing a named origin (from, say, 25% to 30% to experiment
with lay-out) would propagate to all tab settings relative to this origin,
recomposing the whole document with only one manipulation.
Such a feature would allow documents to be more portable between stationery
of different aspect ratio and dimensions.
Styles could be unique for portrait and landscape orientations, single and
Page layout design would be easier and more user-friendly.
I am not a LibreOffice developer and have never seen yet LibreOffice code.
Consequently, I have no idea of the coding effort needed. it may even need
modification to the Open Document Format.
Has anybody else ever had a need for such a feature, beside me? If so, do
you think it is feasible?
André Littoz

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