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January 30, 2006

Think PDF and Links! OpenOffice.org Might Be Your One-Stop Shop for Documents You Distribute


Note: This blog has two related posts, on PDF in general and on Impress and links.

I'm going to make a bold statement. If you ever put any documents on the web, you might need only one application in your life: OpenOffice.org.

I'm not talking web design—I'm just saying, if you work for the city government and need to post long pages of forms for people to download, or if you need to publish reports that people can easily find their way around in, or if you're a technical writer and create user manuals with the usual thousands of links within the document and to other documents—you might be good to go with only OpenOffice.org.

What Makes Me Think OpenOffice.org Is Such a Great Publishing Tool?

This is because of three things.

1. In OpenOffice.org, you can create links. You can just type "Click here to go to the web page," select some text, and link it to any web site you want.

Hyperlinkwindow_1You can link any text or graphic to any heading, graphic, table, etc. within your document or within another OpenOffice.org document. (You can link to another PDF document, but not to another bookmark within a PDF document.)

TochyperlinkYou can automatically generate a linked table of contents, so that anyone clicking on an item in the TOC is taken directly to that heading in the document.

Backtotop_1You can put links in headers and footers. Have a link that says "Back to top" that appears in your footer, and you've got great navigation.

Pdficon_32. You can make a PDF document from your OpenOffice.org document. From a Writer text document, Calc spreadsheet, Impress presentation, or Draw drawing, with OpenOffice.org. Just choose File > Export as PDF. Or even easier, just click the PDF icon on your Standard toolbar.

3. In OpenOffice.org 2.0, the links you make in OpenOffice.org transfer over to and work in the PDF.

These are all very important and useful. Put'em together and you have huge power.

What You Need to Do in Your OpenOffice.org Document

Take a look. Here's a document I made using only OpenOffice.org, created the linked TOC automatically and the links between sections manually using only OpenOffice.org, and generated the PDF using only OpenOffice.org. Here's what I did in the document--I didn't do a huge amount of cross-references but I did do enough to demonstrate the power, I hope.

A. There's a table of contents that I generated automatically, and made hotlinked to each section, automatically. Click on a link in the TOC and it goes.

To create a hotlinked table of contents, in your Writer document choose Insert > Indexes and Tables  > Indexes and Tables. To make the hotlinks, click the Entries tab of the window, click to the left of the E and click Hyperlink, and click after the E and click Hyperlink again. Click All to put hyperlinks on all levels of the TOC. Click OK.

Click this image to see a larger version.


B. At the fine, innovative suggestion of Dave Richards of the City of Largo, I put a link in the footer that says “back to top.” This text is linked to the Table of Contents heading so that clicking that link in the footer takes you to the table of contents.  You could also add footers that say and link to "back to whatever you want." You could add headers and link them back to the original Head1. You could add a manual link at the end of any major or minor section to go back to the beginning of that heading.

To turn on the footer, choose Format > Page, click the Footer tab, mark the Footer checkbox, click OK. Then click in the footer text box that appears and click OK.

Click this image to see a larger image if you want.
Type the text you want in the footer text box.

To link an item in a header, footer, or anything else, see the next point.

C. I added links at the beginning, and to any interesting web sites, throughout the document, using the Hyperlink icon on the Standard toolbar.  Links such as "This section covers the following topics" with a bulleted list containing three links.

      Click this image to see a larger image if you want.

Hyperlinkicon  Here's how to create a manual link. Select the text that you want linked. Click the Hyperlink icon on the Standard (top) toolbar.

In the window that appears, think about what kind of link you want to make. To link to a web site, just click the Internet icon on the left, and type the URL. Click Apply.

To link within the document, click the Document icon on the left side. Then click the round stopsign type icon, and you get the navigator. In the navigator window, you can link to any heading, table, object, etc. in your document, or in any other document. Click Apply, and Close. Then back in the hyperlink window, click Apply again.

Click this image to see a bigger image if you want.


With those three attributes, you can make a document that's link-alicious.

Exporting to PDF

The final step, once you do all this in OpenOffice.org, is to export to PDF.

Choose File > Export to PDF. Name the file. In the PDF options window, specify a page range if you want, and make any changes to the graphics quality. (If you can, keep the JPG compression as high as possible.) Then click Export.

Here's the PDF Options window. Click it to see a larger version if you want.

Take that PDF copy of your document and post it to your web site, email it to whoever needs it, or just do whatever needs to be done to distribute it to the folks who need it.

Think Links and Think PDF! It reduces repetitive work, gives you and your organization extra powers, and will make you look very cool when you introduce this slick, labor-saving approach to distributing documents.



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How do I create a PDF using OO from commandline???
I want commandline options for PDF creation in OO.

Hi Kaustav,

I believe you need a macro to do this. See this topic on converting word to PDF which I think should work.



You can also batch convert files to PDF using the Web Wizard. See http://openoffice.blogs.com/openoffice/2006/02/our_pdf_prince_.html


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