Writer Guide 7.1

Chapter 7
Printing, Exporting, Emailing, Signing


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All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


To this edition

Jean Hollis Weber

Kees Kriek

Rafael Lima

To previous editions

Jean Hollis Weber

Toni Blackwelder

Kees Kriek

Shravani Bellapukonda

Randolph Gamo

Jenna Sargent

Dante Legaspi

Felipe Viggiano

Pulkit Krishna

Colleen Hayes

John A Smith

Peter Schofield

Bruce Byfield

Gillian Polack

Cathy Crumbley

Hazel Russman

Leo Moons

David Blymire

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John M. Długosz

Barbara Duprey

Jamie Eby

Ron Faile Jr.

Gary Schnabl

Klaus-Jürgen Weghorn

Rafael Atias



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Publication date and software version

Published April 2021. Based on LibreOffice 7.1 Community.
Other versions of LibreOffice may differ in appearance and functionality.

Quick printing

If the Print Directly icon is visible on the Standard toolbar, you can click it to print the entire document using the current default print settings. If the icon is not visible, you can make it visible by right-clicking on the toolbar, pointing to Visible Buttons, and selecting Print Directly.

You can specify the default printer on the Printer Setup dialog; go to File > Printer Settings on the Menu bar. To access other printing options, click the Options button on the Printer Setup dialog. The same options are available through Tools > Options > LibreOffice Writer > Print, and more general print options through Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Print. See Chapter 20, Customizing Writer, for more information.

Controlling printing

For more control over printing, use the Print dialog (File > Print, Ctrl+P (⌘+P for macOS), or the Print icon on the Standard toolbar). The appearance of the Print dialog is different on macOS and may include extra printer controls not described in this chapter.

Figure 1: The Print dialog in Writer


The Print dialog has two tabs, on which you can choose a range of options, as described in the following sections.

Selecting general printing options

On the General tab of the Print dialog, you can choose:

Selecting printer and print job options

In the Printer section of the General tab, click the Properties button to display the selected printer’s properties dialog where you can choose portrait or landscape orientation, which paper tray to use, and the paper size to print on.

Click the More Options button at the bottom of the Print dialog to choose whether to create separate print jobs for collated output, instead of one print job containing all the collated pages (not relevant if only one copy of a document is printed).

Printing multiple pages on a single sheet of paper

You can print multiple pages of a document on one sheet of paper. To do this, in the Page Layout section of the General tab, click more and select from the Pages per sheet drop-down list the number of pages to print per sheet of paper. The preview panel on the left of the Print dialog shows how the printed document will look.

When printing more than two pages per sheet, you can choose the order in which they are printed across and down the paper. Figure 2 shows the difference.


To print two pages per sheet in “facing pages” (book layout) style, print from Print Preview instead. See page below.

Figure 2: Print order choices


Selecting what to print

In addition to printing a full document, you can choose to print individual pages, a ranges of pages, or a selection from a document.

Printing an individual page:

1)  In the Print dialog, in the Range and Copies section, select the Pages option. The text box shows the current page number.

2)  Enter the page number of the page you want to print. The preview box on the left changes to show the selected page.

Printing a range of pages:

1)  In the Print dialog, in the Range and Copies section, select the Pages option.

2)  Enter the page numbers of the pages to print (for example, 1–4 or 1,3,7,11 or a combination).

Printing a selection of text or graphics):

1)  In the document, select the material to print, then open the Print dialog.

2)  In the Range and Copies section of the Print dialog, now the Selection option is active. The preview box shows the selected material (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Printing a selection of text


Choices on the LibreOffice Writer tab

On the LibreOffice Writer tab (Figure 4) you can choose to print a subset of contents (for example, images or hidden text), print text in black (even if a color is defined for the text), whether to print automatically inserted blank pages, and whether and where to print any comments that are in the document.

Some selections may not be available all the time. For example, if the document contains no comments, the Comments drop-down list is disabled.

Figure 4: LibreOffice Writer tab of Print dialog


Printing a brochure

In Writer, you can print a document with two pages on each side of a sheet of paper, arranged so that when the printed pages are folded in half, the pages are in the correct order to form a booklet or brochure.


Plan your document so it will look good when printed half size; choose appropriate margins, font sizes, and so on. You may need to experiment.

To print a brochure on a single-sided printer:

1)  In the Page Layout section of the General tab of the Print dialog, click more and select Brochure near the bottom. The preview on the left changes to show the sequence in which the pages will be printed. (Figure 5.)

2)  Depending on your language settings (Tools > Options > Language Settings > Languages), the Print dialog may include a drop-down menu adjacent to the Brochure button (not shown in Figure 5). This provides Left-to-right script and Right-to-left script options. Select the required setting in this menu.

3)  In the Range and Copies section, select Even pages. Click OK to print.

4)  Take the printed pages out of the printer and put them back into the printer in the correct orientation to print on the blank side. You may need to experiment to find the correct arrangement for your printer.

5)  On the Print dialog, in the Range and Copies section, select Odd pages. Click OK.


If your printer can print double-sided (duplex) automatically, choose All pages in step 3 and skip steps 4 and 5.

Figure 5: Settings for printing a brochure on a simplex printer


Printing in black and white (on a color printer)

You may wish to print documents in black and white on a color printer. Several choices are available.


Some color printers may print in color regardless of the settings you choose.

For one document, change the printer settings to print in black and white or grayscale:

1)  On the Print dialog, click Properties to open the Properties dialog for the printer. The available choices vary from one printer to another, but you should find options for the color settings. See your printer’s help or user manual for more information.

2)  The choices for color might include black and white or grayscale. Choose grayscale.

3)  Click OK to confirm your choice and return to the Print dialog.

4)  Click OK to print the document.

To print all color text and images as grayscale, change the LibreOffice settings:

1)  Choose Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Print.

2)  Select the Convert colors to grayscale option. Click OK to save the change.

To print all color text as black, and all images as grayscale, change the LibreOffice Writer settings

1)  Choose Tools > Options > LibreOffice Writer > Print.

2)  Under Contents, select the Print text in black option. Click OK to save the change.

Previewing pages before printing

The normal page view in Writer shows what each page will look like when printed; you can edit the pages in that view. If you are designing a document to be printed double-sided, you may want to see what facing pages look like. Writer provides two ways to do this:


To use Print Preview:

1)  Choose File > Print Preview on the Menu bar, or click the Toggle Print Preview icon on the Standard toolbar, or press Ctrl+Shift+O. Writer now displays the Print Preview toolbar instead of the Formatting toolbar.

2)  Select the required preview icon: Single Page, Two Pages, Book Preview, or Multiple Pages.


3)  To print the document from this view, click the Print icon to open the Print dialog. Choose the print options and click OK.

Printing envelopes

Printing envelopes involves two steps: setup and printing.

To set up an envelope to be printed by itself or with a document:

1)  Click Insert > Envelope on the Menu bar.

2)  In the Envelope dialog, start with the Envelope tab (Figure 6). Verify, add, or edit the information in the Addressee and Sender (the “from” on the envelope) boxes. The sender information is picked up from the User Data page in Tools > Options > LibreOffice.

  1. You can type information directly into the Addressee and Sender boxes, or use the right-hand drop-down lists to select the database or table from which you can draw the envelope information. See Chapter 14, Mail Merge, for details on how to print envelopes from a database.

3)  On the Format tab (Figure 7), verify or edit the positioning of the addressee and the sender information. The preview area on the lower right illustrates your choices.

4)  To format the text of these blocks, click the Edit button to the right. In the drop-down list you have two choices: Character and Paragraph.

5)  In the lower left of this tab is the Size section. Choose the envelope format in the drop-down list. The width and height of the selected envelope show in the boxes below the selected format. If you chose a pre-existing format, just verify these sizes. If you chose User Defined in the Format list, then you can edit the sizes.

Figure 6: Choosing addressee and sender information for an envelope


Figure 7: Choosing positioning and size of elements for an envelope


6)  After formatting, go to the Printer tab (Figure 8) to choose which printer to use, its setup (for example, specification of the tray holding envelopes), and other printer options such as envelope orientation and shifting. You may need to experiment to see what options work best for your printer, as well as how the envelopes need to be positioned in the printer.

Figure 8: Choosing printer options for an envelope


7)  When you have finished formatting and are ready to print, click either the New Document button or the Insert button to finish. New Document makes only an envelope or starts a new document with the envelope. Insert puts the envelope into your existing document as page 1.

8)  Save this file before you do anything else.

To print the envelope:

1)  Choose File > Print on the Menu bar.

2)  On the Print dialog (Figure 1), under Range and Copies, choose Pages and type 1 in the box. Choose the required printer (which may be different from the usual printer). Click OK to print.

Printing labels

Labels are commonly used for printing address lists (where each label shows a different address), but they can also be used to make multiple copies of one label, for example return-address stickers, labels for CDs/DVDs, or other items.

Printing labels, like printing envelopes, has two steps: setup and printing. This topic is covered in detail in Chapter 14, Mail Merge.

Exporting to PDF

LibreOffice can export documents to PDF (Portable Document Format). This standard file format is ideal for sending the file to someone else to view using Adobe Reader or other PDF viewers.


A document in PDF format is not protected against contents tampering or editing by default. The PDF document contents can be edited by specialized software tools, including LibreOffice Draw.


Unlike Save As, the Export command writes a copy of the current document in a new file with the chosen format, but keeps the current document and format open in your session.

Quick export to PDF

Click the Export Directly as PDF icon on the Standard toolbar, or File > Export As > Export Directly as PDF, to export the entire document using the PDF settings you most recently selected in the PDF Options dialog. You are asked to enter the file name and location for the PDF, but you do not get a chance to choose a page range, the image compression, or other options.

Controlling PDF content and quality

For more control over the content and quality of the resulting PDF, use File > Export as > Export as PDF. The PDF Options dialog opens. This dialog has six tabs (General, Initial View, User Interface, Links, Security, and Digital Signatures). Select the appropriate settings, and then click Export. Then you are asked to enter the location and file name of the PDF to be created, and click Save (Windows and Linux) or Export (macOS) to export the file.


You can also export to PDF with File > Export. On the Export dialog, select the PDF file format, the file name and location, and click Save or Export. The PDF Options dialog then opens. Select the appropriate settings and then click Export. The only difference between the two export methods is the sequence in which steps occur.

General tab of PDF Options dialog

On the General tab (Figure 11), you can choose which pages to include in the PDF, the type of compression to use for images (which affects the quality of images in the PDF), and other options.

Range section

Figure 9: General tab of PDF Options dialog


Images section


EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) images with embedded previews are exported only as previews. EPS images without embedded previews are exported as empty placeholders.

Watermark section

General section

Structure section

Initial View tab of PDF Options dialog

On the Initial View tab (Figure 10), you can choose how the PDF opens by default in a PDF viewer. The selections should be self-explanatory.

Figure 10: Initial View tab of PDF Options dialog


If you have Complex Text Layout enabled (in Tools > Options > Language settings > Languages), an additional selection is available under the Continuous facing button: First page is left (normally, the first page is on the right when using the Continuous facing option).

User Interface tab of PDF Options dialog

On the User Interface tab (Figure 11), you can choose more settings to control how a PDF viewer displays the file. Some of these choices are particularly useful when you are creating a PDF to be used as a presentation or a kiosk-type display.

Figure 11: User Interface tab of PDF Options dialog


Window options section

User interface options section


Not available in Writer.


Select how many heading levels are displayed as bookmarks, if Export bookmarks is selected on the General page.

Links tab of PDF Options dialog

On the Links tab, you can choose how links in documents are exported to PDF.

Export bookmarks as named destinations

If you have defined Writer bookmarks, they are exported as “named destinations” to which Web pages and PDF documents can link.

Convert document references to PDF targets

If you have defined links to other documents with OpenDocument extensions (such as .odt, .ods, and .odp), the file extensions are converted to .pdf in the exported PDF document.

Figure 12: Links tab of PDF Options dialog


Export URLs relative to file system

If you have defined relative links in a document, this option exports those links to the PDF.

Cross-document links

Defines the behavior of links clicked in PDF files. Select one of the alternatives:

Security tab of PDF Options dialog

PDF export includes options to encrypt the PDF (so it cannot be opened without a password) and apply some digital rights management (DRM) features.


Permissions settings are effective only if the user’s PDF viewer respects the settings.

Figure 13: Security tab of PDF Options dialog with passwords set


Digital Signatures tab of PDF Options dialog

The Digital Signatures tab (Figure 14) contains the options for exporting a digitally signed PDF.

Figure 14: Digital Signatures tab of PDF Options dialog


Digital signatures are used to ensure that the PDF was really created by the original author (that is, you), and that the document has not been modified since it was signed.

The signed PDF export uses the keys and X.509 certificates already stored in your default key store location or on a smartcard. The key store to be used can be selected under Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Security > Certificate Path (macOS and Linux only). When using a smartcard, it must already be configured for use by your key store. This is usually done during installation of the smartcard software. Details about using these features is outside the scope of this chapter.

Exporting to EPUB format

EPUB format has become popular since mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e‑readers appeared on the market. The EPUB format is implemented as an archive file consisting of HTML files carrying the content, along with images and other supporting files.

Writer can export a file to EPUB. A text-only document generally exports well, but some contents (such as illustrations, tables, and cross-references) may not export correctly. These functions are expected to be added or greatly improved in later releases of LibreOffice.


Other ways to export to ePub from Writer (.odt) files include Calibre, an open-source e‑book manager that runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Calibre provides many e‑book conversion facilities and allows editing of the result.

Quick export to EPUB

Choose File > Export As > Export Directly as EPUB to export the entire document using the EPUB settings you most recently selected on the EPUB Export dialog (see below). You are asked to enter the file name and location for the EPUB file, but you do not get a chance to select other options.

Controlling export to EPUB

For more control over the content and quality of the resulting EPUB file, use File > Export As > Export as EPUB. The EPUB Export dialog opens (Figure 15).

Figure 15: EPUB Export dialog


The EPUB Export dialog has the following fields:


Choose the EPUB version for the exported file. Values are EPUB 2.0 and EPUB 3.0.

Split method

Select the method to start a new section. Choose Heading to start the section on a heading, according to the document’s chapter numbering. Choose Page break to start the section on a page break.

Layout method

Choose Reflowable to have the ebook display change to fit the screen size and the user’s preference (so page size and header/footer content is not exported). Choose Fixed to have the ebook layout remain the same under all conditions.

Customize - Cover image

The path to the image file for the cover page. If no image is specified, the EPUB file will automatically use any image with a name like cover.gif, cover.jpg, cover.png, or cover.svg. A custom cover image is embedded in the EPUB file.

Customize - Media directory

The path to the optional directory for the cover image, metadata, and multimedia files. If you do not specify a directory, the exporter looks for custom media and custom metadata in the current document directory inside a folder with the same name as the document file name.


The basic information for the file that provides tags to help searches. These fields provide another chance to edit metadata that is picked up by default from File > Properties in Writer.

Exporting to other formats

LibreOffice uses the term “export” for some file operations involving a change of file type. If you cannot find what you want under File > Save As, look under File > Export as well. Writer can export files to XHTML, EPUB and other formats, as shown in Figure 16.

Choose File > Export. On the Export dialog, specify a file name for the exported document, then select the required file format and click Export.

Figure 16: Export file formats


Emailing Writer documents

LibreOffice provides several ways to quickly and easily send a Writer document as an email attachment in one of three formats: .odt (OpenDocument Text, Writer’s default format), .docx (Microsoft Word format), or .pdf.

To send the current document in .odt format, choose:

1)  File > Send > Email Document, or File > Send > Email as OpenDocument Text. Writer opens your default email program. The document is attached to a new email.

2)  In your email program, enter the recipient, subject, and any text you want to add, then send the email.

If you choose Email as Microsoft Word, Writer first creates a file in Word format (.docx) and then opens your email program with the Word file attached. Similarly, if you choose Email as PDF, Writer opens the PDF Options dialog where you can select the settings you want, then creates a PDF, and then opens your email program with the .pdf file attached.

Emailing a document to several recipients

To email a document to several recipients, you can use the features in your email program or you can use Writer’s mail merge facilities to extract email addresses from an address book.

You can use Writer’s mail merge to send email in two ways:

See Chapter 14, Mail Merge, for details.

Digital signing of documents

To sign a document digitally, you need a personal key, also known as a certificate. A personal key is stored on your computer as a combination of a private key, which must be kept secret, and a public key, which you add to your documents when you sign them. You can get a certificate from a certification authority, which may be a private company or a governmental institution.

When you apply a digital signature to a document, a checksum is computed from the document’s content plus your personal key. The checksum and your public key are stored with the document.

When someone later opens the document on any computer with a recent version of LibreOffice, the program will compute the checksum again and compare it with the stored checksum. If both are the same, the program will signal that you see the original, unchanged document. In addition, the program can show you the public key information from the certificate. You can compare the public key with the public key that is published on the web site of the certificate authority. Whenever someone changes something in the document, this change breaks the digital signature.

For a more detailed description of how to get and manage a certificate, and signature validation, see “About Digital Signatures” and “Applying Digital Signatures” in the LibreOffice Help.

Applying a digital signature

The following procedure is an example of how to digitally sign a document. The actual procedure depends on how your computer is set up and its operating system.

1)  Choose File > Digital Signatures > Digital Signatures.

2)  The Digital Signatures dialog (Figure 17) opens. It lists existing signatures together with their description (if they have any). Click the Sign Document button to add a new signature to the document.

Figure 17: Signatures of the document


3)  In the Select Certificate dialog (Figure 18), select your certificate, add an optional description, and click Sign to return to the Digital Signatures dialog. The certificate used is displayed in the dialog with an icon next to its name. This icon indicates the status of the digital signature.

4)  Click Close in the Digital Signatures dialog to apply the digital signature.

Figure 18: Signatures can have a description


A signed document shows an icon in the Status bar. You can double-click the icon to view the certificate. More than one signature can be added to a document.

Changing an existing description invalidates the signature. However, multiple signatures from the same author are allowed, because each signature can have a different description.

Including a signature line

You can generate a graphic box representing a signature line using Insert > Signature Line (see Figure 19), and you can optionally sign the signature line using a digital certificate.

Figure 19: Creating a signature line for a document


Figure 20: Signature line example


Removing personal data

You may wish to ensure that personal data, versions, comments, hidden information, or recorded changes are removed from files before you send them to other people or create PDFs from them.

In Tools > Options > LibreOffice > Security, click the Options button to display a dialog (Figure 21) where you can set LibreOffice to warn you when files contain certain information and/or automatically remove personal information on saving.

Figure 21: Set security warnings and options


To remove personal and some other data from a file, go to File > Properties. On the General tab, uncheck Apply user data and click the Reset Properties button. This removes any names in the created and modified fields, deletes the modification and printing dates, and resets the editing time to zero, the creation date to the current date and time, and the version number to 1.

To remove version information, either (a) go to File > Versions, select the versions from the list and click Delete, or (b) use Save As and save the file with a different name.


You can redact documents to remove or hide sensitive information, to allow the selective disclosure of information in a document while keeping other parts of the document secret. For example, when a document is subpoenaed in a court case, information not specifically relevant to the case at hand is often redacted.

To redact a document:

1)  Open the document in Writer.

2)  Click Tools > Redact on the Menu bar, and wait for the document to be prepared for redaction and transferred to Draw. The Redaction toolbar (Figure 22) opens.

Figure 22: Redaction toolbar


3)  Do the redaction by using the Rectangle Redaction and Freeform Redaction tools on the Redaction toolbar. The shapes will be transparent and in gray so you can see what you are redacting.

4)  Optionally use the Export Directly as PDF tool to make an in-redaction copy of the document in PDF to use as a verbatim copy for review. The redacted items will be in transparent grey.

5)  To finalize the redaction, select the desired option (black or white) on the Redacted Export tool. The transparent grey shapes are converted to opaque black or white shapes and the document is exported as a pixellized PDF. There will be no selectable text in it, and the redacted content will be non-existent.


To partially automate the redaction process, you can define certain words (such as names) to be redacted wherever they are found in the document. To do this, choose Tools > Auto-Redact on the Menu bar to open the Automatic Redaction dialog (Figure 23). Here you can load a list of terms (targets), add targets, delete targets, edit targets, and save a list of targets.

Figure 23: Automatic Redaction dialog