There are a variety of ways to start Writer and the method you use depends on whether you intend to open an existing document or create a new one. In Windows, the most common way of starting Writer is from the Start Menu.

  1. Click the Start Button on the taskbar and click on All Programs
  2. Click on 4.0.1
  3. Click on Writer and Writer will open up
Starting OpenOffice Writer

MAC USERS: You will find the icon in the Applications folder. You can open the program by double clicking this icon.

When you open up OpenOffice Writer, a blank document opens and you can begin working immediately. Let’s first take a look at the program window.

OpenOffice Writer Blank Document

Title bar

The Title bar is located at the top of the Writer window and shows the name of the current document. The document name will appear as a generic Untitled 1until you save and name your document.

OpenOffice Writer Title Bar


The Menu bar is located just below the Title bar and contains standard menu items such as File, Edit, View, Format, Table, Tools, Window and Help. When you choose one of the menu items a submenu drops down to show commands (see below).

OpenOffice Writer Menu


Right below the menu you’ll find the Standard Toolbar and the Formatting Toolbar. Writer provides several toolbars for your use such as the Drawing toolbar, the Bullets and Numbering toolbar and the picture toolbar that appear when they are needed. The Standard and Formatting toolbars you see below are consistent across all OpenOffice programs.

OpenOffice Writer Toolbars

The File Menu is where you can perform all the common file management tasks such as creating new files, open existing files, saving files and printing. You can also export files to PDF from the File Menu. If you’ve used an earlier version of Microsoft Office (i.e. 97/2000) this should be very familiar to you.

OpenOffice Writer File Menu

The Edit Menu contains commands for editing the document such as Undo, Paste and Find and Replace.

OpenOffice Writer Edit Menu

The View Menu contains commands for controlling the display of the document such Print Layout or Web Layout. The View Menu also controls what is displayed on your Writer Window such as Toolbars, the Ruler or non printing characters.

OpenOffice Writer View Menu'

The Insert Menu contains commands for inserting elements into your document such as hyperlinks, headers, footers, endnotes, bookmarks, cross references, objects, tables and pictures.

OpenOffice Writer Insert Menu

The Format Menu contains commands, for formatting your document such as Character formatting, Paragraph formatting, changing case and Bullets and Numbering.

OpenOffice Writer Formatting Menu'

Table shows all commands to insert and edit a table in a text document.

OpenOffice Writer Tables

The Tools Menu contains functions such as Spelling and Grammar, Customize, Language, Word Count and Footnote and Endnotes. It’s also where you can perform more advanced functions such as Mail Merge, adding a bibliography database and setting options such as Auto Correct options.

OpenOffice Writer Tools Menu'

Window contains commands for the display window.

The Help Menu contains links to the Help file, What’s This?, and information about the program.

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