Skip to content
Search Contact

Falling in love with Libre Office

This post is about how I misjudged this hidden gem and how I managed to create my perfect off-line writing environment.

I’ve used LibreOffice in the past, but only on rare occasions, but was put off by the cluttered interface, much like with MS Office. Then the other day I decided to give it a try to work on a spreadsheet for the farm finances and was pleasantly surprised at how customizable the interface is. So I started tweaking until I was happy.

I got so excited that I wanted to write a post about it and then applied similar steps to the Writing app. An hour or two later and I have a writing environment akin to Ghost (which provides one of the best writing experiences imo).


Hide unnecessary toolbars

The thing about both MS Office and LibreOffice Writer is the cluttered interface, where every available function, vying for your attention. From all the icons in the toolbars, I use maybe a handful of them. Thankfully it’s super easy to toggle them on an off from the top View menu item. For my set-up I’ve have disabled all but the formatting toolbar and disabled a number of items that I don’t use. Any of the toolbars can be customized via the Tools > Customize > Toolbars tab. Simply select a toolbar you want to customize, select the item you want to remove from the right list then click the left arrow to move it to the unused items list. Similarly you can add new items, select the item you want to add from the left list and move it over to the right list.


Customizing the top menu

As with the toolbars, you have full control over the top menu, again from Tools > Customize > Menu’s tab. The default menu is overloaded with all kinds of functionality I’ll never need, so I’ve slimmed mine down to the bare essentials. I was intrigued by some of the functionality available, so I’ll be spending some time testing the various tools out and add back the ones I find useful. The same process applies to customizing the contextual menus.

/video before /video after

One annoyance is not being able to remove top level menu items. As you’ll notice above where the table and form menu items are still present despite having no children.

Keyboard shortcuts

I’m a big fan optimising my work-flow by getting to know an apps keyboard shortcuts. Not only is it much quicker than using a mouse, I find it is less disruptive to my flow when writing.

The main ones I use are:

Customizing the apps options

The next step to writing nirvana is to go through the apps options panel and tweak the various options to your particular needs.

Here is what I have mine set to:


Removing the shadow and paged layout

One thing that took a bit of searching was how to remove the paginated frame around the content with the shadow around each page.

This is how I managed to mimic Ghosts distraction free editor:

1) File > Page Styles

Customizing the default styles and adding your own

The styles panel makes it easy to customize every aspect of a block of content. I selected a serif font (font name) for headings, body and lists. I then customized the font sizes and spacing. To edit a style, simply press F11 to toggle the styles sidebar, select the style you want to modify, then right click and select Modify. This will open the style editor, where you can customize the fonts, borders, spacing, etc.

Adding your own styles

To add new styles, simply click the down arrow above the style list to expand the options, then select “Create new style from selection”. Styles are saved with your template, so it’s a great way to have different styles for each of your projects, where the typography and spacing mimic your actual site.


Working with templates

Going further with extensions

LibreOffice has an extension system that allows developers to extend pretty much any part of the app, so really the sky is the limit with how far you can take it. I haven’t had a chance to really explore the extension ecosystem, but off the top of my head,

Here are some ideas for extensions that could level-up the app even more:

SEO Assistant

Evaluate the content, suggest changes, help to write optimal seo headers, keyword analysis, social sharing previews, etc.


Open Images

Side-panel to search all the free stock image sources with one-click to download images in custom sizes (desktop, tablet, mobile, @2x, @4x, thumb, original, etc).


AI Writer

Writing assistant using OpenAI to automate content creation in the form of a simple prompt / response in your content.


Built-in docs

Considering I do a lot of my writing offline, it’s great that you have access to the full documentation without needing to be connected. I used this extensively to figure out how to customize various parts of the app and to learn more about some of the more obscure built-in features. The docs site could do with some design love and the search could do with some fuzzy, but overall it works and has a ton of useful information about the whole suite of apps.

Join my inner circle

Get notified of new tutorials, theme launches and life updates.