LibreOffice is the best open source office suite available today. In a recent Wazi article comparing it with the venerable OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice was the clear winner. The free, LGPL-licensed LibreOffice offers spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, and database functions that stack up well even to proprietary products like Microsoft Word.
By itself, LibreOffice is worth every penny you pay for it. But you can make it even more useful by adding extensions, templates, and fonts. Here are some tips on what items to look for and how to add them to your LibreOffice installation.
Like modern web browsers, the LibreOffice suite supports a range of extensions to expand the software's functionality. You can find a host of extensions on the project's Extensions page. When you find one that interests you, download its .oxt file to your home directory. Open LibreOffice, and from the menu select Tools -> Extension Manager. Click the Add button, browse to your home directory, then select the .oxt file you downloaded. LibreOffice will add and activate the extension.
Some extensions change the look of LibreOffice. For instance, OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs displays five new buttons on your toolbar. With extensions that add items to your toolbar, you have the option of leaving them docked with the rest of your toolbar functions, or undocking them. To undock functions from your toolbar, roll your cursor over the left side of your toolbar options until the arrow changes to what looks like a hand. Hold down your left mouse button and drag the selected toolbar downward as to detach it. Should you ever wish to reattach the toolbar, you can simply drag it back into place.
Which extensions can help you the most? Here are the must-have extensions I recommend.
While extensions can add handy functionality to LibreOffice, templates provide a quick way to format frequently used types of documents. You can browse a good selection at the project's Templates page and download any you like. To import a new template, open any LibreOffice program, choose File -> Templates -> Organize, and select the destination category for the new template. Move your cursor to the right of the window, use the Commands pull-down menu, and select Import Template. In the window that comes up, use the lower pull-down menu and change Templates to All Files. Browse to the location of your downloaded template, then highlight and double-click the file. It should then appear in the destination category you selected.
Once you have successfully installed a LibreOffice template, how do you use it? In contrast to the installation process, working with a LibreOffice template is simple. Just open any LibreOffice program that corresponds with the template you installed and choose File -> New -> Templates and Documents. Select Templates on the left, then the template you wish to open on the right, and click Open. The correct program for the template you want will open automatically with a blank document.
Templates are a good way to set the look and structure of a document; fonts set the typeface of the text. The fonts provided with LibreOffice are more than enough for most users, but you can install additional fonts with relative ease. Just make sure the fonts you want are legal to use, since many times there are licensing considerations involved. Perhaps the best source for legally available fonts is the website dafont.com. Its terms of service allow for free access to all its fonts for personal use.
The process of installing new fonts varies depending on your operating system. Under a Linux distribution such as CentOS, you can quickly install a font you downloaded. From a terminal window while running as root, do the following:
cp ./*.ttf /usr/share/fonts/fontname
fc-cache -f -v
LibreOffice by itself offers a solid office suite for multiple operating system platforms, and it's easy to enhance by adding extensions, templates, and fonts. If you have any favorites that we didn't mention, please share them in the comments below.
Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics