Sunday, September 16, 2007

PCLinuxOS - Microsoft Word vs. OpenOffice Writer - Usability Comparison

Abhishek Chib had asked me for some help regarding OpenOffice Writer usage. Many others also need the same help. So, I had plans to prepare a document comparing the features and usage of Microsoft Word vis-à-vis OpenOffice Writer to help the Windows converts into Linux or OSS. Luckily I came across this document Though this document was meant for OpenOffice 1.1.1, it works well with OpenOffice 2.0.2 that ships with PCLinuxOS 2007 and other leading Linux distributions.

Usability wise OpenOffice Writer is not difficult in comparison to Microsoft Word. But as many have learnt computing through a Windows perspective, they generally face the problems in terminology and “where to find what” kind of annoyance. Little bit of intuition will help the users be familiar with OO Writer.

Most functions and controls have the same or similar names in Microsoft Word and Writer, but a few are different. This table compares some common terms in the two programs.

Microsoft Writer
Office AssistantHelp Agent
ScreenTips or ToolTipsTips
WildcardsRegular expressions
(no equivalent)Long-click (click and hold on an icon to display a tear-off toolbar)
Smart tagsDo not exist in OOo

Set up the program to work your way
Most functions are found in similar places in both programs, but a few are slightly different, and the degree of control varies. This table summarizes where to find the setup choices.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Turn off Office Assistant (Help Agent)Help > Microsoft Word Help > OptionsTools > Options > > General
Turn off autocompletion
Tools > AutoCorrect/AutoFormat > Word Completion tab, deselect
Enable Word Completion.
Set up document window (rulers, status bar, default toolbars, etc)View > select required itemsView > select required items
Change measurement systemTools > Options... > GeneralTools > Options... > Text Document > General
Customize toolbarsTools > CustomizeView > Toolbars > Customize (or) Tools > Configure (or) Right-click on toolbar > Customize or Configure
Customize menusTools > CustomizeTools > Configure
Display font names in their font (in toolbar drop-down font list)Tools > Customize > OptionsTools > Options > > View, select Preview in fonts lists
Always show full
menus (include unavailable and little-used items)
Tools > Customize >
Tools > Options > > View, select Inactive menu items
Show/hide ScreenTips (ToolTips) on toolbarsTools > Customize > OptionsHelp > Tips, uncheck
Always create backup copyTools > Options > SaveTools > Options > Load/Save > General
Autosave every x minutesTools > Options > SaveTools > Options > Load/Save > General
Show paragraph marks, tabs, etc.Tools > Options > ViewTools > Options > Text Document > Formatting Aids
Change file locationsTools > Options > File LocationsTools > Options > > Paths
Change user informationTools > Options > User InformationTools > Options > > User Data
Set up AutoCorrect and AutoFormat optionsTools > AutoCorrect OptionsTools > AutoCorrect/AutoFormat > Options tab

Write, edit, and review documents
Most writing, editing, and reviewing techniques in OOoWriter are similar to those in Microsoft Word, but the details often vary.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Jump quickly to other parts of a documentEdit > Go to (or) Outline view Edit > Navigator (or F11), double-click on required heading, figure, table, etc.
Choose language for spelling checkerTools > Language > Set LanguageTools > Options > Language Settings > Language. (Note: has no grammar checker.)
Ignore some text when checking spellingSelect text; Tools > Language > Set Language > Do not check (or) Format > Style > Modify> Format > LanguageSelect text; right-click > Character > Font > Language = [None] or the real language of the selected text, if that is foreign.
Recheck spellingTools > Spelling & Grammar > Recheck DocumentAlways rechecks
Find and replace text, formatting, and stylesEdit > Replace > More; choices as neededEdit > Find&Replace; details are a bit different
Use wildcards (regular expressions) in find and replaceEdit > Replace > More > select Use Wildcards checkboxEdit > Find&Replace; select Regular Expressions checkbox. Wildcards differ from those in MSWord.
Choose, create, or edit a custom dictionaryTools > Options > Spelling & Grammar > Custom DictionariesTools > Options > Language
Settings > Writing Aids
Create exception (exclude) dictionaryFile > New, type words, Save As > text only, file extension .EXCAs for custom dictionary, but select Exception [-] checkbox
Track changes (choose options)Tools > Options > Track ChangesTools > Options > Text Document > Changes
Protect document for editingTools > Protect DocumentEdit > Changes > Protect Records
Mark and track changes(Word 2000) Tools > Track Changes > Highlight ChangesEdit > Changes > Record
Insert comments associated with a changeHighlight text; Insert > CommentEdit > Changes > Comment
Insert notes (comments not associated with a change)Highlight text; Insert > CommentInsert > Note
Show changes as pop-up textOptions > View > ScreentipsHelp > Tips (and) Help > Extended Tips
Merge documentsTools > Merge DocumentsEdit > Changes > Merge Document
Accept or reject changesView > Toolbars > ReviewingEdit > Changes > Accept or Reject
Change document propertiesFile > PropertiesFile > Properties
Get a word countTools > Word Count (can get word count for selection)File > Properties > Statistics tab. (Cannot get word count for selection without using add-in macro.)
Create AutoText entrySelect text; Insert > AutoText > NewSelect text; Edit > AutoText (or) CTRL+F3
Insert AutoTextType shortcut and press F3Type shortcut and press F3 (or) type Name of AutoText entry and press Enter. OOo distinguishes between the “name” and the “shortcut” of an AutoTextentry; Word does not.

Control page layout
This section covers such things as margins, headers and footers, columns, and frames. OOoWriter controls basic page setup somewhat differently than Word does.

Microsoft Word page setup
Page setup (paper size, orientation, margins, and so on) is a property of the document as a whole. To change the setup for a page, you need to define a separate section with the changed
setup. For example, if you specify headers and footers, they apply to the entire document, unless you change them in specific sections. Writer page setup
Page setup is a property of the page style. You can define many page styles—for example, First Page, Left Page, Index Page, and Default. If you change the page layout for one page style, only that style will be affected. When you set up a page style, you can specify which page style applies to the next page, so when text flows from one page to the next, the correct page style will automatically apply to the following pages. For example, you could specify a First Page style to be followed by a Left Page style, to be followed by a Right Page style, to be followed by a Left Page style—a common setup in books.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Define marginsFile > Page Setup > MarginsFormat > Page >Page
Specify different headers and footers on first, odd, and even pagesFile > Page Setup > Layout > Headers and Footers sectionDefine different page styles for First, Left (even), and Right (odd) pages, using Header and Footer tabs
Edit headers and footersView > Headers and Footers, then type or insert fields; can also double-click in existing header or footer regionsAfter you have specified Header and Footer areas for a page, they are always active. Single-click to type or insert fields
Change from roman to arabic page numbers in the footer of a pageInsert a section break, deselect “Same as Previous” in the second section, define a new footer with page numbers restarting at 1 in arabic numeralsInsert a manual page break and apply a different page style
Use paragraph styles for page layoutCan define paragraph styles with offset from left margin, with heading styles aligned left or rightCan define paragraph styles with offset from left margin, with heading styles aligned left or
Use columns for page layoutInsert continuous sections to switch from single to multiple columns on one pageFormat > Page > Columns (or) Insert/Format > Section > Columns (or) other methods
Use frames or text boxes for page layoutFrames are used in Word 97 but mostly replaced by text boxes in Word2000 and 2002; can be linked to flow text from one to next, as in a newsletterInsert > Frame (can link frames to flow text from one to next, as in a newsletter); “text boxes” are fields, not positioning devices
Use tables for page layoutTable > Insert > Table (use dialog to format)Insert > Table (use dialog to format)
Put portrait headers on
landscape pages
Use rotated text box linked to header Use rotated text in a frame
Set first page number to greater than 1Insert > Page Numbers > FormatIn first paragraph on first page, Format > Paragraph > Text Flow > Breaks, select Enable and With Page Style, choose the page style, specify the page number.
View and edit facing pagesFile > Print Preview; click Zoom button to enable editingFile > Page Preview shows pages on wrong sides of screen, so you may want to insert a blank page before the first page while writing a draft. You cannot edit in page preview mode.

Use templates and styles
A full discussion of the similarities and differences in the use of templates and styles would take too long for this summary document, but the following table should get you started.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Find which template is associated with a documentTools > Templates and Add-insFile > Document Properties > General tab.
Specify default template"Normal" template is defaultFile > Templates > Organize, choose any template to be the default
Create a new templateFile > Save As, set type to Document Template (.DOT)File > Templates > Save
Edit a templateFile > Open, choose templateFile > Templates > Edit
Copy styles between templatesTools > Templates and Add-ins > OrganizerFile > Templates > Organize. Copy styles with Ctrl + drag and drop between templates and documents
Create a new document from a templateFile > New (opens a list of templates)File > New > Templates and Documents
Apply a different template to a documentTools > Templates and Add-ins > Attach, select template, OpenStart a new document based on the different template; copy contents of old document into new document.
Apply a style to text(Word 2000) Select from Style List or Style dialog (XP) Can also use task pane.Format > Styles (or press F11), double-click style in list; after one use, paragraph styles appear in Apply Style list on Formatting object bar.
Change a style definition(Word 2000) Format > Style > Modify; (XP) can also select in task pane and click ModifySelect style in Stylist, right-click, choose Modify; or Format > Styles > Catalog, select style, click Modify.
Create a new styleFormat > Style > NewFormat > Styles > Catalog, click New.
Use outline numberingFormat > Style, select style > Format >
Tools > Outline Numbering

Use fields
A full discussion of the similarities and differences in the use of fields would take too long for this
summary document, but the following table should get your started. Major differences exist in the use of cross-references.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Insert a fieldInsert > Field (or) CTRL+F9 for blank fieldInsert > Fields
Define a number range
Insert > Field, use SEQ (sequence)Insert > Fields > Other > Variables > Number range
Insert a bookmarkSelect text; Insert > BookmarkSelect text; Insert > Bookmark
Insert a cross-reference to a bookmarkInsert > Cross Reference, choose Bookmark as typeInsert > Cross Reference > Bookmark
Insert a cross-reference to a headingInsert > Cross Reference, choose Heading as typeEither bookmark the heading or use Insert > Cross Reference > Set Reference to mark the heading, then Insert > Cross
Reference > Insert Reference
Insert a cross-reference to a figure or tableInsert > Cross Reference, choose typeInsert > Cross Reference > Insert Reference > Figure (or Table)
Insert a cross-reference from document A to an item in document BUse Includetext fieldsKeep a manual list of cross-reference names (case sensitive) when you set them in document B.

When you insert the cross-reference in document A, you must type the name of the item (in document B) in the Name box on the Fields dialog instead of selecting the name from the Selection list.
Use conditional contentUse IF or other fields, or styles (all workarounds)Insert > Fields > Other > Variables (among other ways)

Work with large or complex documents
A full discussion of the similarities and differences in working with large or complex documents would take too long for this summary document, but the following table should get your started.

Major differences exist in the use of master documents. The table does not attempt to summarize all these differences. Other how-to documents are being written to describe the use of master documents in detail.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Create a table of contents, list of figures, or an alphabetic indexInsert > Index and Tables Insert > Indexes and Tables > Indexes and Tables
Insert index entriesALT+SHIFT+XInsert > Indexes and Tables > Entry (or) click Insert Index Marker icon
Create a bibliographic databaseUse database, e.g. Microsoft AccessTools > Bibliography Database
Insert bibliographic references into textLink to field in databaseInsert > Indexes and Tables > Bibliographic Entry
Insert footnotes and endnotesInsert > FootnoteInsert > Footnote (or) click Insert Footnote Directly icon
Insert other filesInsert > File, choose Insert or As LinkInsert > File
Cross-reference between
Use Includetext fieldsKeep a manual list of cross-reference names (case sensitive) when you set them in document A. To insert a cross-reference from document A to an item in document B, you must type the name of the item in the Name box instead of selecting it from the Selection list.
Use master documentsNot recommendedFile > Send > Create Master Document; use Navigator to insert subdocuments

Work with graphics
Most graphics work should be done outside Word or Writer, with the graphic files embedded or linked to the Word or Writer file. However, you can do some simple graphics using the drawing tools in Word or Writer. This table covers the basics.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Create Drawing objects(Word 2000) View > Toolbars > Drawing; (XP) Insert > Picture > New DrawingClick Show Draw Functions icon
Combine graphics objects and drawing objects(Word 2000) Edit > Picture > Reset Picture
Boundary; (XP) Use drawing canvas
Place all objects in a frame
Insert graphics files into a text document (embed or link)Insert > Picture > From File, choose Insert or As Link Insert > Graphics > From File
Anchor graphicsFormat > Picture >
Layout > Advanced > Picture Position
Use icons on Graphics object bar, or right-click and choose from pop-up menu, or click Format > Graphics
Wrap text around graphicsFormat > Picture (or Object) > LayoutUse icons on Graphics object bar, or right-click and choose from pop-up menu, or click Format > Graphics > Wrap
Crop graphicsFormat > Picture > Crop, (or) click Crop tool on Picture toolbarFormat > Graphics > Crop
Create captions for graphicsSelect graphic; Insert > Reference > CaptionSelect graphic; Insert > Caption
Annotate graphicsUse drawing objects; group, or place in frame or on drawing canvas (XP)Place all objects in a frame
Insert watermarkFormat > Background > Printed Watermark > Picture (or Text) WatermarkFormat > Page Style > Background (or) create
drawing object, Arrange > To Background, Anchor > To Page

Use keyboard shortcuts
This table summarizes some of the built-in keyboard shortcuts used in Microsoft Word and their
equivalents in Writer. Functions without built-in keyboard shortcuts can be performed using toolbar icons, or you could assign your own key combinations.

To do Microsoft Writer...
Underline words not spacesControl + Shift + WNo equivalent
Change font sizeControl + Shift + PNo standard equivalent
ThesaurusShift + F7Control + F7
Show/hide non-printing charactersControl + Shift + *Control + F10
Hanging IndentControl + TNo standard equivalent
“Unhang” IndentControl + Shift + TNo standard equivalent
IndentControl + MNo standard equivalent
“UnIndent”Control + Shift + MNo standard equivalent
SuperscriptControl + Shift =Control+Shift+P
SubscriptControl + =Control + Shift + B
Remove character formattingControl + SpacebarRight click > Default
Remove paragraph formattingControl + QNo equivalent
Jump to previous edit pointShift + F5Need to use the reminders on the Navigator


soham said...

great resource. a must have post for every linux user.

niranjan said...

would you please elaborate on the OOo features for powerusers?

Anonymous said...

this posting is not quite readable for its layout. please look into the matter.

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