The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: July 2004
Pages: 240

Thanks to, there is an alternative to Microsoft Word. If you've ever been frustrated by Word's quirks and limitations--including its price tag--and longed for a practical alternative, then it's time to break free. is the free, open source office suite and its word processor, Writer, has proven extremely popular with both Windows and Linux users.How good can it be if it's free? you might ask. And how much trouble will it be to install and learn? A quick tour of the program will show you: the features you use regularly--from formatting and spell check to using templates and creating indexes --are all there. And Writer's intuitive, surprisingly familiar interface lets you navigate with ease. To quickly master the ins and outs of Writer, you'll want a copy of Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word. This handy reference is packed with essential information to help you learn the basics of Writer and become adept with its advanced features.Written for intermediate and advanced users of word processing programs, Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word provides guidance for common and advanced word processing tasks. With this book, you'll learn how to:

  • Set up OOoWriter to work your way
  • Write, edit, and review documents
  • Control page layout
  • Use templates and styles effectively
  • Get the most from using fields
  • Work with Tables of contents, indexes, bibliographies
  • Manage large or complex documents
  • Insert, edit and create graphics
  • Make a smooth transition from Microsoft Word Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word provides guidance for anyone who wants to break out of the Word rut. Its detailed Table of Contents make it a handy reference for even the most experienced word processing users who want to get up to speed quickly with this program, or make sure they're taking full advantage of OOo Writer's features. With the complete office suite included on a CD (which you can install on as many machines as you like), this book makes using Writer an easy Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word is part of the O'Reilly Community Press Series. Unlike classic O'Reilly animal books, O'Reilly's role in the series is limited to providing manufacturing and distribution services rather than editorial development, so that each Community Press title reflects the editorial voice and organization of the community that has created it.
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(based on 3 reviews)

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Well written. Great find!

By dpeach

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Writer:

O'Reilly made a great choice in picking up this previously self published book, "Taming Writer," and adding it to their collection. The author has a great style which is very easy to read.

For someone already familiar with word processing applications this book is a great help in showing how Writer accomplishes the task. It is written for someone who has experience in this type of software. As the subtitle is "The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word" you can imagine that much of the differences she shows are differences between Writer and Word.

The author does a great job at showing what can and cannot be done with OOo. She does not pretend that OOo Writer is perfect and is quick to show how to avoid some common pitfalls. The book is refreshing in that it does admit some weaknesses of the software, but also provides ways around the problems.

Because it is written for current users of word processors, it gives few examples of what can be done with the features. If you already know what you want to accomplish but are unsure of how it is done in Writer, then this book is a great help.

One of the strengths of OOo is "Styles." The author explained how to use styles in a very concise manner. The only thing lacking was a thorough explanation as to why someone should use styles. Other word processors handle formatting on a paragraph to paragraph, or word to word basis. OOo handles its formatting through styles, though you can do it the wrong way if you like. Styles are document wide formating and is much more powerful. But the book lacked the convincing paragraph or two as to why one should try to learn to use the Stylist.

There are lots of screen captures. Of which 183 are dialog boxes or menus. The other 8 show something other than those 2 items. Precisely two, and only two are an example of actual text being formated. The problem I have with this is if I go through the steps that are given in the book, I can, without fail, end up at the same dialog box as the book references. What would have been more to my liking would have been to see more examples of how you can use OOo to put text on a page.

The saving grace of this though is the one huge example that the book shows of what can be done with OOo...the entire book was written in and typeset from OOo Writer. Anything you see in the book can be done with the OOo Writer program. That is a testimony to the power of the tool. Because of this, the author goes into great detail as to how to manage large documents with Writer. This is something that OOo does very well. With its Stylist to help manage the uniform formatting and the Navigator to help manage a large document, OOo not only competes for MS Word's secretarial market, but WordPerfect's dominance in the legal and governmental fields.

I look forward to the release of 2.0. I hope that O'Reilly will work with the author to produce a new version of the book in line with the new version and features of the software. As well, I would like to see O'Reilly do a book on each of the components in the suite.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Most useful book on Writer

By pitonyak

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Writer:

I consider Jean's coverage of Writer the most useful source of advanced useful information I have found. I wrote a book using and I still learned a lot of excellent above average useful imformation from this book.


A well crafted and technically correct presentation

By Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Writer:

I have blogged the review here. A small quote goes With the Linux Desktop market looking exceedingly upbeat, a well crafted book on one of the most important components of the desktop suite is always required. This book neatly addresses the niche. Neither too verbose, nor too light it is a well balanced presentation in the usual style from an author who is well respected and known for her competence with the software suite.

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