Need for more flexible text editor in LO

Those of us designing buildings often need some pages with a lot of text to satisfy codes and regulations. You don’t have to do it in LO of course, but it’s handy to know that, when you print out a set of drawings, the notes automatically accompany them.

The problem is that LO is not set up to deal with anything other than basic text editing. To get columns, for example, I create a text box that contains all the text I want to import, then make that box a reasonable width for the page, then copy the text box across the page, then edit each text box so that the text appears to flow from one column to the next. What would be nice is the ability to create columns that wrap text automatically within LO.

Maybe there is either an extension that does this or a cleverer way of dealing with large blocks of text that I don’t know about?

I create columns of text in Word or LibreOffice and save the file as RTF. Then I insert the RTF into LO. If you need to edit the text or change things like tab widths or whatever, right click on the text box and choose Open with Word. (or whatever editor you are using.) I am usually starting from a CSV file which I edit in a spreadsheet application before sending to Word because I find it easier to deal with the columns and rows in Excel. Then I copy to Word for final formatting and to convert the table to text.

There are some cool things about this method. For example, if you know the text box is going to be in the same location for every project, you could create a template with that text box in place and just create a new RTF file to replace the text as needed.

Thanks for advice DaveR but not sure it will work for me. It seems to be difficult to export to RTF from a Mac. I could get LibreOffice to do it I guess. But your mention of CSV files and columns in a spreadsheet context worries me. What I meant by columns is the type you get in newspapers where text flows from one column to the next automatically if you edit. What I have at the moment is text boxes arranged as columns on the page but with no connection between them.

In truth, I realise I am asking a drafting package to do a fairly high end word processing, or even desktop publishing, job, which is not what it is designed for. But hey, one can dream!

You should be able to use File>Save as and select RTF as the file type. Afterall, RTF is a common standard text file type. They selected that because most any word processing application would be able to create one.

My apologies. It seems most of the time when people are asking for columns, they are adding tables. In your case, since it is just paragraphs in multiple columns, you should be able to do that in your word processing application and again, save as RTF.

I would like a few more options for editing text boxes in LayOut but I don’t really think it’s wise to reinvent the wheel for a full-blown text editor. The same applies to image editing. To me it makes more sense to let the user use whichever text and image editors they are comfortable with.

The built in can be set to Make Rich Text and you can add Tables and or Lists…


I aknowledge there are workarounds but I agree with Simon. The text editing functions in LO are nothing to write home about. In addition to columns and tables it would need paragraph styles and the ability to extract and sort data into its tables from the SU model.


Well DaveR, I went ahead and tried your idea! I installed LibreOffice and created a text file with columns. So far, so good. Then I discovered that there is no RTF option when you export - bummer. However, I read that if you copy the text to the clipboard, it saves it there in RTF format - great. Except that it doesn’t retain the columns - losing will to live.

I am fast coming to the conclusion that there is currently no way to do what I want to do, apart from the rather clunky way I have been using to date. But if I have missed something, do say.

Open office has save as .rtf

Actually, there is another way to do what I want. If you save the text file in PDF format, you can import that into LO, retaining the columns.

Obviously, the text is not editable in situ, so to edit you would have to use the original text file, re-save it as a new PDF and substitute it for the original. Still pretty clunky but maybe a bit faster than what I have been doing.

You keep using the term Export. Did you try Save as…? RTF is available there.

Unfortunately the RTF won’t insert intto LO with multiple columns but you can still create columns and it can still be editable.

Come on come on I need to know what happened to Lorem…don’t leave us hanging

I only copied part of the story. :smiley:

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Thanks for sticking with this DaveR.

Yes, as Box has pointed out, you have to use Save As to create an RTF file.

Are you saying that the text will flow from one “column” to the next? If not, I am back to square one because what you have done is exactly what I have been doing (except without the added complication of RTF files)! Each of my “columns” in LO are actually separate text boxes.

So, for example, if you substituted the word “practically” for “almost” in the last line of your first “column”, pushing the word “life” out of the text box, would it magically appear at the top of the next text box? That is what I am trying to achieve.

To be clear, I pointed that out several times.

From yesterday:

Perhaps I should have made it bold text.

No. It would be nice if it did. But you do have other text editing options by working in a text editor.

As I said, I would like to see some additional features but I don’t expect a full-blown text editor. I’ve already mentioned this sort of thing in conversations with several folks on the LO team so we’ll see what happens.

Alright already, DaveR, so I didn’t read what you wrote carefully enough! Mea maxima culpa.

Importing text was never a problem for me, so the RTF issue looks like being a bit of a red herring. It was the importing of flowing text in column form that was at issue. I think we have now arrived at the answer, which is that you can’t have editable flowing column text in LO. If you want editable text, you have to do what I have so far been doing. Otherwise, you have to edit outside LO and import the end result in, say, PDF format.

Here endeth the last lesson.

Did she find her way back to Do in Cicero’s book?


I am having text insert problems. I have inserted a text pdf, saved as PDF from Word. I am on Mac, SU 2016. It looks great in LayOut, but when I export to PDF from layout, some text looks great, some very bad. I have no idea what the difference between the two inserts might be. Any ideas out there? One screenshot from LayOut, one from a PDF. I have experimented with the export quality slider, to no avail. Thanks in advance for your help. I will try Dave R’s RTF idea in the meantime to see if get better results. If I insert a Word file the formatting gets all crazy. Thanks

I don’t know exactly what happens here but my guess is that the text on the left has been saved as a vector PDF and the other as raster, or the other way round.

Have you tried saving from Word (or the Mac equivalent) as a RTF file and inserting that?


i did finally figure it out. The text that looks good was inserted as a text file (.doc or .rtf) That works, but formatting goes away, particularly a numbered list. The fuzzy text was inserted as a .pdf saved from Word for Mac. This results in a low resolution PDF, which gets fuzzy when the LO document is exported to PDF. Why it looks OK in LO but bad when exported I do not know. The solution is to insert text files and accept simpler formatting, or save your DOC file in a higher resolution PDF using Adobe or an online service to save in high resolution. The built in PDF function in Word for Mac will only save in low resolution. It only took me a day of thrashing to figure this one out.

You should set your Output Resolution to High in Document Setup>Paper, and, when exporting, turn off Image Compression in the PDF Export options. It creates really ugly artefacts in text and untextured surfaces.


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