How to configure LibreOffice for school

Your office software should do more than just keep up with your school work. It must also accompany you throughout your post-graduate career. If you use a free trial like the student version of Microsoft Office, you will be interrupted when you graduate.

When this happens, you are faced with a choice. Start learning new software while looking for work, or start paying for a subscription as your student loans go into repayment. Wouldn’t it be nicer if you could continue to use familiar software for free?

LibreOffice is free office software that meets all the needs of your students. Discover five ways to use LibreOffice at school.

Why LibreOffice is better than Microsoft Office and Google Workspace

Person trying to choose between office software vendors
Mohammad Hassan /Pixabay. Google icon: Google/Brand Resources. Libre Office icon: The Documentary Foundation.

LibreOffice is one of many free alternatives to Microsoft Office. Like many OpenOffice programs, it integrates seamlessly with premium software. So you can easily use files designed for Microsoft Office.

Unlike Google Workspace, LibreOffice programs work offline. And unlike Microsoft Office, you won’t have to pay to continue using them after you graduate. LibreOffice is also much more customizable.

It’s also the best choice if you’re working on a laptop or tablet. LibreOffice is versatile, but uses less processing power than Microsoft Office. This makes it much more manageable for smaller computers.

For these reasons, LibreOffice is the best long-term choice for serious students.


To download: LibreOffice for the Windows | macOS (Free)

1. Using citation and reference styles in Writer

A long list of references in LibreOffice Writer

Most schools ask you to cite your sources with an academic reference style. For example, scientific articles often use the APA style. Art articles use MLA and journalism students use the Chicago Manual of Style. Medical students use the AMA, etc.

These styles have strict formatting rules. You can save a lot of time by using a template. Then, instead of setting the spacing and so on each time, you can just open your template and start writing.

A template is just a document to which the necessary formatting has already been applied. Most schools have such a document available on their websites. For example, here are some University of Wisconsin Whitewater APA Models.

Your school probably has its own templates in its favorite citation styles. To make sure you’re using the correct format, ask your school’s library or writing center for templates.

Zotero plugin in LibreOffice Writer

Now let’s see how to use citations and references in LibreOffice Writer. The easiest way is to install a reference manager, like Zotero. You’ll need a good reference organizer anyway. It’s much easier than manually tracking all your searches.

Open Writer when you install Zotero, and it will add the plugin for LibreOffice Writer. The first time you use this plugin in a document, it will ask you to select a citation style.

Inserting a Zotero citation in LibreOffice Writer

After that, clicking on the Insert buttons opens the Zotero search bar. Search your sources by author, title or any other part, then press enter to insert. Adding your bibliography is even easier. Just press the Add/edit bibliography button, and the Zotero plugin will compile it.

To download: Zotero for the Windows | macOS (Free)

2. Creating group-written reports in Writer

Merge a group report in LibreOffice Writer

When collaborating with others, it is better to be compatible with other software. Start by configuring LibreOffice Writer to behave like Microsoft Word. This way you can work with Office files and your own work will load correctly in the Office software.

The easiest way to manage a report written in a group is to assign a section to each. With LibreOffice Writer, you can merge all completed sections into a single document.

Writer will then allow you to isolate sections. This makes it easy to export a single part with comments. You can also export the combined document to any file format your teacher wants.

3. Take notes in Writer and Impress

Take lecture notes in LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice Writer also works great as a note-taking software. To take notes in Writer, start with your AutoRecover settings.

Open Tools > Choice > Loading backup > General and set the frequency to one minute. Then make sure Always create a backup copy is selected. This way you won’t lose your job.

You can add links to online resources or draw illustrations with the drawing tools. Insert > Shape. Try creating a merged document that combines your lecture and lecture notes on the same topic.

If your teacher uses slides, ask if you can download the slide file. Then you can use LibreOffice Impress to take notes on each slide with To see > Remarks. You can take notes on PDF files with Office Writer for class readings and research.

4. Presenting in Impress

Introducing LibreOffice Impress

LibreOffice Impress has many tools for perfect presentations. For example, it supports lots of hotkeys that will save your time when preparing.

Impress comes with several attractive templates that you can use. You can even upload templates designed for Microsoft products. Impress will open them without any problems.

A solid presentation relies more on graphics than on text. Impress is ideal for creating graphic presentations. Use LibreOffice Draw to create designs and illustrations for your concepts. You can also import tables and graphs from LibreOffice Calc or Math.

You can use Impress rehearsal settings to prepare to present. look under Slideshow > Rehearsal times. This activates a timer mode that helps you make sure you’re sticking to the allowed presentation time.

5. Make math calculations

LibreOffice Math is a software specially designed to practice all levels of mathematics. It has no equivalent in Microsoft Office. It lets you enter and solve any type of equation, from basic math to advanced trigonometry and beyond.

Once you have created an equation, you can insert it into other LibreOffice programs. Add them to your essays in Writer or your Impress presentations. You can also save the formulas you use often.

It is so complete that it even includes predefined tools. You will find common formulas such as the Pythagorean Theorem included for you. Find them under Examples sidebar section.

Graduate with desktop software you can keep

By using LibreOffice at school, you graduate with a set of versatile tools you can keep forever. You won’t have to add expensive subscription fees to your student debt. Plus, you can always integrate premium software whenever you want.

For these reasons and more, LibreOffice is one of the essential programs for students.

Boy sitting in front of a laptop
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