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Hello Virgil!

On 08/07/13 17:58, Virgil Arrington wrote:
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.
Hehehe. Don't worry, I won't ostracize you.

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.

I know... I am familiar with LaTeX and LyX. My day job is at the Physics Deptartment at a local Univesity, and we use them a lot for reports and papers. My problem is that I *do* want to give my document a distinctive visual format, with nice typography and so on... and writinf a LaTeX class or the LyX equivalent is beyond my skill level. And since I am not that fluent with LaTeX (I've personally never wrote anything complex with it), I wanted to use a more point-and-click approach, to able to focus on my subject matter and not so much in learning new tools at the same time. Another reason is that the small printing houses around here who may be able to do some small self publish job for me are all set up for files in PDF or MS Word .doc format. My experience with LaTeX to Word conversion is that the result is quite ugly.

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.

Uh WP. That brings back memories ;-)
In that specific case, I too would have turned to LaTeX. And don't take me wrong, I fully appreciate the need to separate format from content in a project this size.

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.

I thank you for your time and effort. I would prefer to stick to using LO... I seriously considered turning to LaTeX, but I truly feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of learning I would need to do in order to reach the same formatting proficiency I have with a standard word processor.
Best regards,

Pablo M. Dotro         Twitter: @Pablo_El_Mago

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