How to Use OpenOffice to Write a Book

Writing and formatting a book correctly can be a tedious and often frustrating task. There are many programs aside from Microsoft Word that can be used to format a novel and they range from affordable to quite expensive. OpenOffice is free open source software that you can use to write and format your book professionally, particularly helpful if you are considering printing your book or submitting it to a self-publishing company.

Step 1

Open OpenOffice and start a new text document. Go to "Format" and select "Page." Enter the height and width you want (paperback books are usually 6 in. by 9 in., but follow the guidelines of your publisher if you are self-publishing).

Step 2

Create your title page on the first page of the document. Enter the title, your name and the name of the publisher, each centered. The title and your name should be near the top of the page with the publisher's name several spaces beneath. Explore OpenOffice's fonts to find one that fits your title and book best.

Step 3

Create a title page "verso" on the next page, next to the title page. Type any warning about copying or reproducing your book, copyright information, your book's International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and Cataloging in Publication (CIP) numbers, and which edition of the book this is, all centered on the page. Some self-publisher's include ISBN and CIP numbers as part of the package, but in other cases you may need to purchase the numbers separately.

Step 4

Left-justify the document starting on the next (third) page by clicking the left align icon in the toolbar near the rich text options (the icon will say "Align Left" if you let the mouse hover over it). Enter a dedication on this page if you want to include one.

Step 5

Go to "Insert" and click "Header," then select "Fields" and click "Page Number." Click "Left," "Right" or "Center" and click "Okay" to set page numbers automatically on each page of your book.

Step 6

Double-space five or six times down the first page of text, keeping a blank page between this and the dedication, and enter "Chapter 1" or the name of the first chapter. Enter your book's ext. The entire manuscript should stay double-spaced and you should choose a regular font in 10- or 12-point size such as Times New Roman, but check if your publisher has any specifications.

Step 7

Start a new chapter by going to "Insert" and clicking "Page Break." Be sure to double-space five or six times down before writing the chapter name and starting your next chapter text.


Export your file as a PDF before printing, as OpenOffice documents save as ODT files, which are not always recognized by printers. Go to "File," click "Export as PDF" and then click "Export."

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