Changing the default Writer template

This one’s for those using an alternative to Microsoft Office–

Tired of changing the default page size from A4 to Letter everytime you create a new Writer document? Do you wish adding a page number on each page of your more-than-a-page document were not an additional task amidst the rush?

Do you wish to change the default Writer document template?


  1. Create a new document. (File->New->Text Document or press Ctrl+N if you’re in the Writer mode or start Writer from your desktop’s program menu.)
  2. Change the way it looks on the screen and off the printer. The following may be your concern:
    • Page setup. Choose Format->Page from the menu. Change the page setup as you wish, e.g., size, margins.
    • Footer or header. If you want to paginate your document, that is, put page number on each page say at the bottom, choose Insert->Footer->Default. You are then brought to the footer area. Press Ctrl+R to put the cursor to the right margin. Then choose Insert->Fields->Page Number.
    • Default font. Let’s say you hate Times New Roman and want to boast of the beauty of Deja Vu. Fire up the Styles and Formatting box by pressing F11 (note that pressing F11 with the box already open closes it). Right-click on the paragraph style called Default and a menu pops up. Select Modify. With the Paragraph Style dialog box open, go to the Font tab. Then locate the font Deja Vu, click on it and then click on the OK command button.
  3. After finally deciding on the document setup, save it as your template by choosing from the menu File->Templates->Save. With the Templates box open, enter the name for your default document and then click on the OK command button.
  4. Choose File->Templates->Organize from the menu. With the Template Management dialog box open, locate your saved default document template by double-clicking on the My Templates item in the left side. Select the template. Then click on the Commands button at the right side, and click on the Set As Default Template item. And then close the dialog box.

You are now ready to create new documents using the template you customized yourself.


  1. Thanks.
    But I have a question: while this means I don’t have to change the paper size of the document every time, which is a big bonus, I still have to change the paper size for the printer every time I print. If I run the Gnome printer manager:
    $ gnome-cups-manager
    The printer–the same CUPS printer–has a A4 paper. Thus, I deduce it must be something with OpenOffice, and not with the CUPS printer system.
    I’m running 2 in Ubuntu Dapper. The printer is a network printer on a Windows network–I connect with Samba.
    Any advice?

  2. This is an excellent set of instructions. Thank you!

    Solomon –

    I am also an Ubuntu user using CUPS for printing. I have never used gnome-cups-manager from the command line. I almost always open a webbrowser and visit http://localhost:631 in order to modify my cups settings. That said, I have noticed that A4 size pages seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times somewhere in the chain.

    I recommend checking/setting the following :
    1) default page size in openoffice (it sounds like you did this)
    2) default print settings in openoffice
    3) cups printer settings
    4) printer’s options, if you can access some kind of menu on the hardware itself

    In my experience, I have found A4 settings in all these locations and I have also been able to hunt down some options that automatically resize pages without asking to, say 8.5″ x 11″ which helps solve the problem when A4 jumps up unexpectedly.

  3. Thanks for the how-to! The last bit, about how to get OO to use it as the default would have had me stymied for hours. :rollseyes: Don’t know what it is, but Sun seems to have real UI problems in all their products. So the help here is much appreciated.

  4. I’ve found the answer to a lot of people’s problems with the printing from to A4 and vice versa.

    I couldn’t get Openoffice to print in A4, the printer kept saying that it couldn’t print in 8.5 x 11 (american letter standard). Very frustrating for the rest of the world!

    Go to Format on your document
    then: click Page…
    up pops a box with lots of tabs, click on Page tab
    at top it says Paper Format. In box labeled Format you can change to any paper size you want. I changed Letter to A4 and
    Hey Presto! i can print!

    No need to change anything on the printer itself.


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