Fixing a minor OpenOffice annoyance

I’ve been experiencing a minor, but rather annoying problem since I used OpenOffice.org Writer to create a complex document a few years ago. It was difficult to figure out how the problem could be fixed, but after spending a lot time on Google to refine a precise search term, I finally found a solution to this problem.

Let me explain the problem. Apply a paragraph style which places spacing above the paragraph (like the “Heading 1” style for example) to the first line of text on the page. Even though it is the first line of text on the page, OO.org Writer still applies the spacing above the paragraph. This adds unnecessary space to the already existing page margings, which will look strange. It will also look inconsistent because the spacing won’t present on the next page if a paragraph continues there on the first line, for example. Your only option is to remove the spacing above the paragraph from the style, but that means you will have to use the Enter key which is supposed to start a new paragraph to create spacing manually. This is not good, so I searched for an explanation as to why it’s not OO.org’s default behaviour to ignore the spacing above the paragraph if the style using it is applied to the first line of the page.

I found this topic on the OpenOffice.org forum. Apparently this illogical behavior of OO.org can be disabled by disabling the option “Add paragraph and table spacing at tops of pages (in current document)”. You can navigate to this option through the menu options “Tools” → “Options…” → “OpenOffice.org Writer” → “Compatibility”. According to this page on the OpenOffice.org Wiki this option is enabled (by default I assume, at least it was in my case) specifically to ensure compatibility with Microsoft Word.

While it is a good thing that OO.org tries to be compatible, it’s not good if I’m only using OO.org without importing Word documents. In that case this option is quite obviously working against me. On top of that, it was very difficult to figure out how to disable this behavior. The question is, can’t the option be disabled by default, and temporarily enabled on-the-fly when a MS Word document is opened? I wonder what the OO.org developers think. I filed a bug report, issue #97951.

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