Getting Started Guide




This document is Copyright © 2012–2016 by the LibreOffice Documentation Team. Contributors are listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (, version 4.0 or later.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


Jean Hollis Weber

Peter Schofield

Lera Goncaruk


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Publication date and software version

Published 17 May 2016. Based on LibreOffice 5.1.





Publication date and software version

Who is this book for?

What’s in this book?

Where to get more help

Help system

Free online support

Paid support and training

What you see may be different



Using LibreOffice on a Mac

What are all these things called?

Who wrote this book?


Frequently asked questions

What’s new in LibreOffice 5.1?


Who is this book for?

Anyone who wants to get up to speed quickly with LibreOffice will find this Getting Started Guide valuable. You may be new to office software, or you may be familiar with another office suite.

What’s in this book?

This book introduces the main components of LibreOffice:

It also covers some of the features common to all components, including setup and customization, styles and templates, macro recording, and printing. For more detail, see the user guides for the individual components.

Where to get more help

This book, the other LibreOffice user guides, the built-in Help system, and user support systems assume that you are familiar with your computer and basic functions such as starting a program, opening and saving files.

Help system

LibreOffice comes with an extensive Help system. This is the first line of support for using LibreOffice.

To display the built-in Help, press F1 or select LibreOffice Help from the Help menu.

For quick tips, place the mouse pointer over any of the icons to see a small box (“tooltip”) with a brief explanation of the icon’s function. For a more detailed explanation, select Help > What's This? and hold the pointer over the icon. In addition, you can choose whether to activate Extended Tips using Tools > Options > LibreOffice > General.

Free online support

The LibreOffice community not only develops software, but provides free, volunteer-based support. See Table 1 and this web page:

For comprehensive online support from the community, look at mailing lists and the Ask LibreOffice website. Other websites run by users also offer free tips and tutorials.

This forum provides community support for LibreOffice:

Another forum that provides support for LibreOffice, among other open source office suites, is:

Table 1: Free support for LibreOffice users

Free LibreOffice support

Ask LibreOffice

Questions and answers from the LibreOffice community


User guides, how-tos, and other documentation


Answers to frequently asked questions

Mailing lists

Free community support is provided by a network of experienced users

Native language support

The LibreOffice website in various languages

Mailing lists for native languages

Information about social networking

Accessibility options

Information about available accessibility options

Paid support and training

You can also pay for support through service contracts from a vendor or consulting firm specializing in LibreOffice. For information about certified professional support, see The Document Foundation’s website:

What you see may be different


LibreOffice runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X operating systems, each of which has several versions and can be customized by users (fonts, colors, themes, window managers). The illustrations in this guide were taken from a variety of computers and operating systems. Therefore, some illustrations will not look exactly like what you see on your computer display.

Also, some of the dialogs may be different because of the settings selected in LibreOffice. You can either use dialogs from your computer’s operating system or from LibreOffice. The differences affect mainly Open, Save, and Print dialogs. To change which dialogs are used, go to Tools > Options > LibreOffice > General and select or deselect the option Use LibreOffice dialogs.


The LibreOffice community has created icons for several icon sets: Breeze, Galaxy, High Contrast, Oxygen, Sifr, and Tango. Each user can select a preferred set. The icons in this guide have been taken from a variety of LibreOffice installations that use different sets of icons. The icons for some of the many tools available in LibreOffice may then differ from the ones used in this guide.

To change the icon set used, go to Tools > Options > LibreOffice > View. In the User Interface section, choose from the drop-down lists under Icon size and style.

Using LibreOffice on a Mac

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on a Mac from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this book. For a more detailed list, see the application Help.

Windows or Linux

Mac equivalent


Tools > Options menu selection

LibreOffice > Preferences

Access setup options


Control+click and/or right-click depending on computer setup

Open a context menu

Ctrl (Control)

⌘ (Command)

Used with other keys



Open the Navigator



Open the Styles and Formatting window

What are all these things called?

The terms used in LibreOffice for most parts of the user interface (the parts of the program you see and use, in contrast to the behind-the-scenes code that actually makes it work) are the same as for most other programs.

A dialog is a special type of window. Its purpose is to inform you of something, or request input from you, or both. It provides controls to use to specify how to carry out an action. The technical names for common controls are shown in Figure 1. In most cases the technical terms are not used in this book, but it is useful to know them because the Help and other sources of information often use them.


Figure 1: Dialog showing common controls

  1. 1)Tabbed page (not strictly speaking a control). 

  2. 2)Radio buttons (only one can be selected at a time). 

  3. 3)Checkbox (more than one can be selected at a time). 

  4. 4)Spin box (click the up and down arrows to change the number shown in the text box next to it, or type in the text box). 

  5. 5)Thumbnail or preview. 

  6. 6)Drop-down list from which to select an item. 

  7. 7)Push buttons. 

In most cases, you can interact only with the dialog (not the document itself) as long as the dialog remains open. When you close the dialog after use (usually, clicking OK or another button saves your changes and closes the dialog), then you can again work with your document.

Some dialogs can be left open as you work, so you can switching back and forth between the dialog and the document. An example of this type is the Find & Replace dialog.

Who wrote this book?

This book was written by volunteers from the LibreOffice community. You also can contribute to writing this and other guides. Profits from sales of the printed edition will be used to benefit the community.


This book is adapted and updated from Getting Started with 3.3. The contributors to that book are:

Jean Hollis Weber Michele Zarri Magnus Adielsson
Thomas Astleitner Richard Barnes  Agnes Belzunce
Chris Bonde  Nicole Cairns Daniel Carrera
JiHui Choi Richard Detwiler  Alexander Noël Dunne
Laurent Duperval  Spencer E. Harpe  Regina Henschel
Peter Hillier-Brook Richard Holt John Kane
Rachel Kartch  Stefan A. Keel Jared Kobos
Michael Kotsarinis Peter Kupfer  Ian Laurenson
Dan Lewis  Alan Madden Michel Pinquier
Andrew Pitonyak Carol Roberts  Iain Roberts
Hazel Russman Gary Schnabl  Robert Scott
Joe Sellman Janet Swisher  Jim Taylor
Alex Thurgood  Barbara M. Tobias Claire Wood
Linda Worthington

Frequently asked questions

How is LibreOffice licensed?

LibreOffice 5.1 is distributed under the Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved Mozilla Public License (MPL). See

It is based on code from Apache OpenOffice made available under the Apache License 2.0 but also includes software that differs from version to version under a variety of other Open Source licenses. New code is available under LGPL 3.0 and MPL 2.0.

May I distribute LibreOffice to anyone? May I sell it? May I use it in my business?


How many computers may I install it on?

As many as you like.

Is LibreOffice available in my language?

LibreOffice has been translated (localized) into over 40 languages, so your language probably is supported. Additionally, there are over 70 spelling, hyphenation, and thesaurus dictionaries available for languages, and dialects that do not have a localized program interface. The dictionaries are available from the LibreOffice website at:

How can you make it for free?

LibreOffice is developed and maintained by volunteers and has the backing of several organizations.

I am writing a software application. May I use programming code from LibreOffice in my program?

You may, within the parameters set in the MPL and/or LGPL. Read the licenses:

Why do I need Java to run LibreOffice? Is it written in Java?

LibreOffice is not written in Java; it is written in the C++ language. Java is one of several languages that can be used to extend the software. The Java JDK/JRE is only required for some features. The most notable one is the HSQLDB relational database engine.

Note: Java is available at no cost. If you do not want to use Java, you can still use nearly all of the features of LibreOffice.

How can I contribute to LibreOffice?

You can help with the development and user support of LibreOffice in many ways, and you do not need to be a programmer. To start, check out this webpage:

May I distribute the PDF of this book, or print and sell copies?

Yes, as long as you meet the requirements of one of the licenses in the copyright statement at the beginning of this book. You do not have to request special permission. We request that you share with the project some of the profits you make from sales of books, in consideration of all the work we have put into producing them.

What’s new in LibreOffice 5.1?

The LibreOffice 5.1 Release Notes are here: