Open Office “normal” view

So, in the spirit of “if I have this problem, other people must also,” I write here a complaint and a proposal.

I really like the idea of Open Office and free, open source software. In general, I think it’s a great product. However, I still use my old version of Microsoft Word to write in. Why? Because Open Office doesn’t have the single most important feature I need as a writer: draft, or “normal” view (that’s the way you can view documents in Word that strips out all the margins and headers and shows a dotted line for page breaks). The only options in OO Writer are page layout view and this truly wonky web view. Both of which are entirely useless for composing long documents without unnecessary headaches. I’ve looked this up, and people have been complaining to them about this since 2002. The developers keep making vague noises that they might do something about it and then put it off into some indefinite “later” version of Open Office. It ain’t in version 3.0 either. It seems a little insane to me that the by far most sophisticated free word processor out there can’t get it together enough to implement a page view mode that’s been available since the early 90s in every other software package. And it’s stopping me from using it. I bought an ASUS so I could have something small bring to coffee shops and write, but unfortunately it’s linux-based and so I’m stuck with OO Writer. The more I use it. the more frustrated I get with the stupid layout view. Augh!

So…anyone else feel like this? Am I alone? Would you too use Open Office Writer if it could get itself together and give us a decent page view? Because if you take a few minutes and sign up on the open office wiki, you can then vote for the issue and write a comment. Maybe if enough writers do this, they’ll start to look at it seriously.

It’s issue # 4914. If you’re with me, go forth and agitate!

On the other hand, I’ve complained about this to a few of my friends and they seem to have no problems at all adjusting to the page layout view. Different strokes, I guess.


19 thoughts on “Open Office “normal” view

  1. soldier2writer says:

    I’ve never used OO Writer, but I’m going to look into it.

  2. I have a Mac, and am broke, so MS Word is not an option. I use Print Layout with Zoom Factor set to “optimal” – I’ve kind of grown used to the cursor jumping to a blank page. Like using an old-school typewriter: getting to see the new page come up is a little reward.

  3. Mike says:

    I agree completely, I found your website in hopes of finding a way to turn on “normal” layout. I am disheartened that it simply doesn’t exist. How is this possible?

  4. Dave R. says:

    HERE! HERE! I tried OO in the early days and noticed the problem RIGHT AWAY. I rejected it then. Occasionally I check in to see if it’s fixed, but no luck. I check back less and less often as time goes on, I’m disheartened. It’s the ONLY reason I don’t chuck MS Word and a BIG reason I don’t jump to Linux. What is their stinking problem?!

  5. Goran says:

    I’ve tried moving to OO on several occasions because of stupid MS logic. Each time I’d spend too much time looking for the way to disable grey borders in Writer, hit the wall and give up. I stumbled upon this page while googling to find if I’m missing something obvious that’ll make me feel like an idiot. Sadly, not.

  6. Ty says:

    Only sensible conclusion: Microsoft has paid off a few key OO managers to not implement normal view.

  7. Erling Larsen says:

    I don’t see the big problem.
    I prefer to to check my dokuments as they will print, and not have to imaging how they might look.

    The normal look in MS-word is the same as was used in JANE, the first officeprogram for Commodore 64 in the mid 80′.

    Most programs has improved for the last 20 years, it seems that only MS get stuck in old ideas.

  8. Alaya says:

    Yeah…only MS and every other word processing program released in the same 20 year period. What old-fashioned humbugs we all are. Not with the times. Don’t you know that huge margins and headers/footers and gray spaces are wicked cool, man? I totally love it when my sentences get chopped up by intrusive formatting. It’s, like, art.

  9. Mauro says:

    I NEED draft view too!!!!

  10. Timebomb says:

    Man, I would love if OpenOffice could put a normal view in writer in writer. Like many above, I have waited for years to see this feature. Why are the developers so oblivious to this constant call?

  11. It sounds pretty annoying. I usually write in Emacs — I like how I can get it to fill the whole screen, in columns (with follow-mode) with no toolbars or anything. When I’m writing I tend not to want to be distracted by formatting at all.

    But I’m no great writer, either.

    All in all, I kind of hate OpenOffice (it works okay but it’s clunky) and I’m not really a word processor fan either, despite a variety of experience. (You know, WordStar 2.x, WordPerfect 5, Apple Writer, ClarisWorks, Microsoft Word of various versions, OpenOffice Writer…)

  12. Prokoff says:

    I translate very long documents in a daily basis and this is the single missing feature that has kept me from moving to OOo.

  13. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Ugh! And here I was so hoping to not have to reload my old Office 2002. *_* I absolutely hate that there are only two views — print and web. The only time I used print view in Word was when I just wanted to see how something would look on the printer. Otherwise, I simply just wrote things normally. It makes no sense to me that a normal view feature would be something that the developers don’t feel like including. *_*

  14. Rachel says:

    I agree. Like everyone else, I came here looking for a solution. Now I’ve got to think about going back to MS. I hate fomatting. I guess I could shrink the font size so that I get proportionately more white space at any one time, but it’s still going to annoy me. Please can someone deal with this.

  15. Guy says:

    I totally agree! I can’t believe it is not an option on OpenOffice. Formatting the page breaks is the last step for the documents I work on – in the mean time, I just want to put as much text on the page as I can. Leaving big blank spots for page breaks just takes up valuable screen space.

  16. Manuel Royal says:

    I had the same experience; went out and bought Word because I needed the “Normal” view. Very useful for a fiction writer.

  17. Gary says:

    I have just installed OpenOffice 3.2 because my boss used it to create a document to which I must contribute (he runs Linux and does not have MS Office). OOo 3.2 is okay as a word processor, nothing fancy. I prefer to compose in Print layout, not Normal. What has absolutely irked me about OOo is that when I use the Page Down and Page Up keys while displaying two whole pages in Print layout, it never displays the whole pages; i.e., the vertical page boundary is somewhere in the middle of the screen and I am always looking at the bottom of one page and the top of the next page. I have to use the mouse and the vertical scrollbar to show whole pages. What is the deal with this?

  18. scott biggs says:

    Switching from PC to mac means leaving my old MS-Word behind. Forced to use OO, I desperately long for the old “normal view!” As if writing weren’t already hard enough, now I have to deal with huge holes in my text and pages jumping around almost at random via the page-up and page-down keys. Sigh.

  19. Dave R. says:

    Hah! This thread is still going! I commented December 7, ’08. I’m still looking for Normal View. LibreOffice is a new fork of OO and I was searching for talk of Normal View on it when I found this page still somewhat alive. LibreOffice doesn’t have it (yet), but it’s so new that it’s still pretty much an exact copy of OO. They’re at if you all want to send them this particular suggestion. They were apparently unhappy with Sun’s management of OO (like we are). Maybe they’re looking for important ways to differentiate from OO such as this!

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