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Typesetting in LibreOffice


See the online help about typesetting for more information about some general principles.

You have access to a copy of LibreOffice.

Page count

The publisher may set limits to the number of pages the typeset Bible may contain.

In this example, we expect an entire Bible, with singable Psalms added as an appendix, to contain no more than 2000 pages. Normal range is 1500 to 1800 pages.

We suppose that the singable Psalms take up no more than 200 pages.

Usually the inclusion of the singable Psalms in a Bible will add about 10 percent to the number of pages.

The Bible will have footnotes and crossreferences, all lumped together into a single textframe at the bottom of each page.

Let us now measure how many pages the notes are likely to take up.

Download the file with notes. It was exported above. It is called 00_Bible_notes.odt.

Open the file in LibreOffice.

Let it repaginate. A good way of doing this is to press Ctrl-P as if going to print the document. Then it will repaginate. Cancel the print dialog.

It will now give the page count that the notes are likely to take up.

In our case, this is about 300 pages.

Each chapter has headings. These headings do not belong to the notes. Thus the page count is too high.

Notice that the paragraph style for these headings is called ‘Heading 1’.

Hide the headings. This can be done like this. Right-click on a heading. Choose ‘Edit Paragraph Style’. A dialog comes up. Choose tab ‘Font Effects’. Tick option ‘Hidden’.

Repaginate, and notice the page count. In our case it is down to about 125.

Let us now find out how many pages the main text body is likely to take up.

Download the OpenDocument file with text and note citations. It was exported above. It is called 00_Bible_text_and_note_citations.odt.

The document has only one column.

Repaginate and notice the page count. In our case this is 1750.

This is not accurate since it applies to a column count of one rather than two.

Set the whole document to have two columns.

Go to menu Format / Page. Choose the Columns tab. Choose two columns. Set the spacing to 0.2 cm. Set a thin separator line. Click Ok.

Repaginate and notice the page count. It is down to 1520.

The font is of particular influence on the page count. This is not dealt with here.

We are now able to estimate the page count for the entire Bible:

Text body 1520 pages. Notes 125 pages. Singable Psalms 200 pages. Estimated total is 1845 pages.

Using LibreOffice for typesetting

Having used LibreOffice for typesetting for some time, my experience is that the program is suitable for typesetting Bibles.

I’d like to give some hints about how to do typographic work in LibreOffice.

To meet the requirement that line spacing be consistent throughout and be placed line on line across all pages, do the following:

Go to menu Format / Page, and enable Register-true. Set the reference style to ‘Text Body’. Press OK.

Select all the text, and go to menu Format / Paragraph, and activate Register-true. Press OK.

The line spacing specified by the paragraph style ‘Text Body’ is now used as the reference line spacing for all paragraphs that have the register-true feature enabled.

The line spacing in the document is going to be consistent. It will be equal to the line spacing of the reference style ‘Text Body’, or a multiple of it.

Changing the line spacing.

Change the line spacing in paragraph style ‘Text Body’.

Press F11 to get the Styles and Formatting dialog.

Locate style ‘Text Body’.

Right-click it with the mouse, and choose menu Modify.

Go to tab Indents & Spacing.

Adjust the spacing above the paragraph, the spacing below the paragrap, and the line spacing. Press OK.

It may happen that some paragraphs in the text used to have a line spacing equal to the line spacing of style ‘Text Body’, but now suddenly take up a multiple of it. This may happen when you have tightened the line spacing a bit.

To resolve this, make the line spacing of those paragraphs smaller than the line spacing of style ‘Text body’.

Updating a paragraph style.

After exporting USFM text to OpenDocument, the paragraph styles of the USFM document appear in LibreOffice.

For example, normal paragraphs usually have style ‘p’, and section heading ‘s’.

If you like to update a paragraph style, you may update each section heading individually, but this is a lot of work. It is faster to update the style for ‘s’, so that this updates all paragraphs that have this style.

To update a paragraph style, right-click the text of this paragraph, and choose menu Edit Paragraph Style…, and make the desired settings.

Exporting to PDF.

See menu File / Export as PDF.

Hiding the soft hyphens and non-breaking spaces.

The soft hyphens and the non-breaking spaces are visible as grey fields that clutter the page. To hide them, do this:

Go to menu Tools / Options.

Go to LibreOffice Writer / Formatting Aids.

Untick display of custom hyphens.

Untick display of non-breaking spaces.