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I'll probably be (justifiably) ostracized for this on a LO user list, but to me trying to write a book with LO Writer is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Yes, it can be done, but the labor involved may not be worth it. In my mind, Writer is a business application, useful for letters, memos, legal documents, school reports, and the like. While I love working with LO's styles (which would be essential for book writing), I find LO's implementation of master documents to be too involved and clunky for my taste.

For organizing a book length document, with parts, chapters, and tables, indexes, and sub-documents, etc, I much prefer LyX and LaTeX, both of which are free and opensource. Yes, the LaTeX learning curve can be steep, but LyX makes it so much easier. You can type away and let the computer do the formatting, just by selecting the Book class. Unlike the business oriented LO, LyX and LaTeX were created specifically for making long documents such as books. Round hole, round peg. The biggest drawback is that changing default formatting settings can be daunting for the uninitiated. But, if you accept the defaults, you'll still have a beautifully formatted book with *much* less effort than you would with LO.

For example, several years ago, my 14 year old son challenged himself to type a 50,000 word novel in November, which is National Novel Writers Month. He met his goal, and quickly dropped the project.

As a proud papa, I wanted to put his document to paper. He wrote the original in WordPerfect, and it was a formatting mess, with stray tabs, carriage returns, and inconsistent formatting across chapter and section headings. I began the task of reformatting his 127 page novel using WordPerfect, the original program. It didn't take long for me to realize it would take days and days to wade through all of the formatting codes inserted by WP.

Instead, I saved the document as a plain text file, stripping all formatting. I then loaded it into LyX. Using the Book class (think template), I applied Part and Chapter styles, (called "environments" in LaTeX speak) to the part and chapter titles, and then inserted a fully formatted, numbered, and typed table of contents with a couple mouse clicks. I set NO page formatting parameters such as page margins, page numbering, etc., as those were handled entirely by the Book class. I then compiled the book and had a fully formatted novel, complete with Title page, Table of Contents, properly formatted right and left hand pages with fully formatted headers with page numbers, etc. The entire formatting process took about a half hour. I surprised even myself.

I could have done the same thing with LO's styles and master documents, but they're not quite as fully automatic as LyX/LaTeX, so it would have longer.

So far, however, I've found LyX/LaTeX's support for e-books to be a little lacking (but no more so than LO's). For storing documents in an e-book format (whether Nook's Epub, or Kindle's MOBI), the best solution that I've found is Atlantis (a $35.00 shareware program). It is a Word clone word processor that supports direct export to Epub and MOBI with preservation of nearly all formatting. Every other solution I've tried (including LO, LyX, and Markdown editors) screws up formatting to some degree or another. Atlantis does 90% of what I need in a word processor, with the sole exception of tables.

In short, while I love LO, I honestly think there are better tools for the task of book and e-book writing.


2013.07.08. 7:34 keltezéssel, Pablo Dotro írta:

I am beginning a large writing project, that will most probably take the form of a self published, free ebook. And while I have created very long, complex documents before, I have never formatted them as a book. Having been using word processing software for a living for the last 15 years or so, I thought myself as "power user" enough to take the next step and try to create my document relying on Writer's features and not depending on someone else to typeset the material. However, after reading both the "Getting Started" and the "Writer Guide", I am convinced that it is possible. Heh, the mere existance of those books is proof enough ;-) But I find that there is a gap between the techniques described there for working with templates, styles and master documents... and the actual craft needed to make them work. A quick look to the odt files themselves convinced me of that. So after some googling and a disappointint amazon search on books on this subject, I come here to rely on our collective knowledge, with a question:

Does anyone know about a tutorial, book or website where I can specifically learn about creating a book-lenght document, with chapters (as subdocuments) and a master document, consistent styling, indexing and table of contents with Libreoffice?

Thnk you very much for your time, and best regards,

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