Guide: LibreOffice Writer Part 6: Objects (Boxes, Images, Text)

In this sixth part of the Writer guide, we look at something a bit more simple: objects. If you like making your own cards, this may help a lot.

So, so far, we’ve covered a lot about what LibreOffice Writer can do. In the previous guide, we looked at charts which is a somewhat complex followup to tables. While there is a lot that is complex about those guides, this guide will focus once more on something that is a bit easier to digest.

Objects can be something complex, but they can be very simple things as well. An object can be as simple as drawing a box. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as inserting a picture. We can even insert text boxes as we see fit. It’s really easy to see something like Writer as something that just creates various documents, but with objects, we can expand into other print media as well.

In the example we will be using, we will show you ultimately how to create your own greeting, Birthday, or Even Christmas card.

Inserting Boxes

Probably the easiest thing to add is a simple box. It’s also a very good thing to add because, by default, as you add objects, layers are constantly added to the card. The first layer is always going to be the one furthest to the back. If that doesn’t really make sense to you, it probably will later on in this process. First, however, the box itself.

If you’ve read previous parts of this guide, you might be asking if we should be worried about positioning. Not so much with objects in general as they actually offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to positioning on the page. So, the first thing we are going to do is click on “Insert” in the menu bar (highlighted).

From there, we want to hover our mouse over “Shape”. In the next menu, hover over “Basic”. Finally, we can click on any object shape we want, but for our purpose, we’re going to select “Rectangle” because it will suit what we want to do. So, click on Rectangle.

You’ll notice not only your cursor changing, but also a new context sensitive menu bar appear. Next up, we’re going to just draw our object by clicking and dragging.

It will look something like the above as you click and drag. Don’t worry if your rectangle isn’t perfect. That can always be adjusted at almost any point in this process. When you release the mouse button, it’ll look like the following:

Now, the first thing we want to do is get rid of the fill colour. If you want to use fill, that’s actually up to you, but for our purpose, we’re going to get rid of it. So, we want to click on the drop down menu with the paint can image.

Some of you might notice that there isn’t really a “no fill” option. Fortunately, that’s not really a big deal because we can simply layer on top of these objects after. So, I’m going to click on “White” in the swatches to match the colour background.

Next, I’m going to want to add in something festive. A border can definitely fit the bill here.

First thing I’m going to edit is the border colour. That is simple enough. Just click on the Border Colour button and click on any swatch you want to use. I’m going to click on “Red” for now. With a new border colour, adjusting the border type is going to be in order.

So, we can just click on the border style drop down menu and select any border we want. The reality is that most borders will actually work for us, but for simplicity, I’m going to select the last one: Dashed. You might look at your results and think that it’s not really showing much yet, but we’re not done.

Next, we want to adjust the line width. We can do so easily enough with the up and down arrows. I’m going to click on the up arrow until I get 0.30cm.

After you get the result you want, you can continue to make the squares you need. You may need to repeat a number of these steps, but those steps should be easy and a few actually retain your preferences while you are at it. You can also click and drag on any of the small squares by clicking on the object to make refined adjustments.

In this example, we are creating a card that you can fold over twice. First, you can fold it vertically, then fold it horizontally. To get close to the right height, I also copied the top row boxes and put them on the bottom. If you are close in size and still have a reasonable gap, that should make for some easy folding once it comes time to print because you know the boxes are going to be identical.

Adding A Text Object

Next, we are going to add some text. Normally, this isn’t a problem in a document editor, but in this case, we are going to want some control over where we want the text to show up. A flexible method is to add a custom text box.

So, for this, we need to click on “Insert” in the menu bar. After that, we want to click on “Text Box”.

From there, I just draw the text box I want. I actually intentionally start inside the gap so I don’t accidentally select my boxes, then draw over top of it.

From there, I can type in whatever I want. I can edit the font, alignment, and size as I see fit. From there, I can click on the bounding box and move or resize as I see fit.

Important Note: If you move or resize the bounding box and realize you want to edit the text further, you can do so simply by double-clicking on the text to bring back the text editor for that box.

Now, some of you may realize that if you were to actually fold this greeting card, the text will actually be upside down. Solving this is actually very easy to do.

With the bounding box selected (as shown) and not the text, you can then click on the “Rotate” button.

You’ll notice that your bounding box handles turn orange. Click and hold on any one of the four corners and you’ll be able to rotate your object however you see fit.

Important Tip: Since we are going for a 180 degree rotation, this is easily achieved by holding down shift while you are rotating. This enables snapping at particular rotation intervals. This will give you an easy, yet perfect flip every time.

When you are done rotating, you can click on the rotate button again to turn off the rotation mode. You can still double click on your text box and edit further. The text will temporarily flip right side up to make editing easier. When done, deselect the text and it will flip right back around.

Adding Pictures

Adding pictures is very easy. As long as you know where the picture is on your hard drive, it can be downright simple. First, make sure nothing in your document is selected (otherwise, it’ll appear inside that object and that’s not good).

First, we can click on the “Add Image” button. In the pop-up window, just browse to the picture you want. Click on the “Open” button. Your image will likely cover up a good portion of your document. No worries.

Just click on any of the corner handles in the bounding box and re-size. If you resize with a corner, your image will retain a proper aspect ratio and no stretching will be shown.

Now, if you are like 95% of the people reading this, you’ll know that the picture has a lot of extra stuff that is not needed in the picture. Writer, fortunately, features an image cropping feature.

You’ll notice that I have a whole bunch of extra stuff on the left hand side of the picture that I want to get rid of while retaining the rest of the picture. So, let’s just cut that out with the “Crop Image” button (highlighted in screen shot). when you click on it, you’ll notice that the bounding box handles will be slightly wider.

Next, you can crop out what you don’t need by re-sizing the bounding box. In my case, I clicked and dragged the left hand side and moved it to the outer side of my border. Now, you’ll also notice that I have a slightly familiar problem where the picture probably needs to be flipped upside down.

After lining up the bottom of the image with the text on the left panel, I just click on the Rotate button (highlighted in screen shot).

You might even notice that you don’t need to hold shift to get an east rotation this time around. After that, I just need to insert some additional text boxes or pictures with the other two lower panels and I’ll be ready to print.

What’s great about this kind of holiday greeting card is the fact that you can fully customize it and it can easily be much more personal in that regard. All it cost you to make is a little ink and whatever you chose to print that document on to to boot!

Congratulations! You now know how to create simple objects in Writer!

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