Posted in Writing Life

*Open Office

I decided to try Open Office now that I’m starting a new book for a couple of reasons. For anyone not familiar with it, OO is free open source software, meaning that people work on it because they like to and its development is a collaborative cooperative project all over the world, supported by volunteers and donations, much like Wikipedia.

(Check out the Wikipedia founder’s appeal here. Everyone in my house uses Wikipedia daily and so we donate what we can afford once a year.)

Back to Open Office. In principle I think free open source software is a magnificent alternative to giant corporate endeavours like Microsoft and Google and so I wanted to try it out. Practically speaking, I will need a new laptop eventually and I am not enthused about the prospect of buying another version of Word in that endless cycle of new computer/new system/bloat, ie bells and whistles nobody needs requiring new software with bloat.

Open Office can save documents in a number of formats, including Word’s, and so far I’ve had no problem with that if I so wish it. It also comes with all the components that come with Microsoft Office, ie spreadsheet, power point, etc. So far I am just using it for writing, which is mostly how I used Office. (Though I did use a spread sheet in my last book to keep track of the balance of voices and as a scene summary).

I love OO! I like the layout, I like the icons, I like the colour schemes (though you can change that if you wish). I like the forums where people ask questions and answer them in terms an ordinary person can follow. I learned how to insert a date in the format I wanted, and to make a shortcut for it, in 2 minutes flat. No Microsoft agony or screen of death.

I like the flexibility, the responsiveness and the transparency of OO. It looks like Word and has the same menus and commands, eg control-P for print, but it works a whole lot better. Today I used numbering in a document to outline what I’ve come up with so far for the new book. The numbering actually worked and didn’t drive me crazy! A toolbar popped up that was useful and easy to figure out! OMG! Who would have thunk it?

If you haven’t tried it already, here’s the link to Open Office. Have a go and let me know what you thnk.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

4 thoughts on “*Open Office

  1. I am a terrible technophobe (well, that should probably read ‘incompetent’) and tend to stick with the familiar, but it’s very good to know that Open Office has impressed you and if I need a new format (is that the right word? I don’t think so), I will certainly consider it now.

  2. Litlove–if you need a new program for some reason then try Open Office. Because it looks like word it won’t feel really new.

    Beth, thanks! I posted about OO because I figured a lot of people may not have heard of it.

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