Review: Taming Writer

Thu Aug 28 15:59:58 EST 2003

Title: Taming Writer
Author: Jean Hollis Weber
Publisher: Jean Hollis Weber © 2003
Cost: USD$10 (online version), or $17.50 for a printed copy (,
Target Audience: Beginner to Advanced user of's Writer (word processing application)

The review copy received courtesy of the publisher was a comb-bound, local Australian release of it the one you get from is different. There was an option of reviewing the PDF on the screen, but at over 140-pages, I preferred getting something hardcopy.

It is noted that she used 1.0.2 on a Windows system, but the Mac OS X or Linux users aren't left out there is mention of help littered throughout the text for the non-Windows equivalents of commands. However, from the version, certain items have changed, such as the PDF export's have since improved, and there's no mention of the DocBook standard being supported by Writer.

For migrants from Microsoft Word, the book has an excellent resource on migrating and getting familiar with Writer its all nicely tabulated, and the information is presented very clearly. A feature that caught my eye was the method described in setting up Writer; the logic behind it being if you're going to spend a lot of time within the environment, you're better off making it work the way you'd like it to.

Controlling documents is always an interesting topic because of changes that one would normally make; tracking change revision especially with many writers working on the same document is difficult, but makes it a seamless task. Using the Master Document features also help in document control.

For the beginners, there's an introduction to templates, styles, and graphics usage within Writer. If you're a professional, the Bibliography Database feature within Writer is very helpful, and Jean makes good mention from an introductory standpoint, as well as some advanced usage of it. The lack of a section on mail merge and e-mail integration of documents seems to be a sore point.

You never really feel lost with the book, and if you were looking for some quick information, there is a comprehensive index included at the back. There are little Tip toolboxes that many of the pages have, and my only complaint lies in the fact that it lacks a little Tip graphic, that most of the other books seem to carry.

The book is shareware, so the full edition is available online, for evaluation, for free. A very interesting way of distributing a book, and it looks like it's a success you try it before you buy it!

Overall verdict: 9/10
Pros: Great to have as a resource, once the basics are understood
Cons: You'll want a book for Calc & Impress at the very least as well; but if all you use is Writer, this is a great book

Colin Charles <>, © 1996-2004