LibreOffice: Fonts, page color, and the magic number

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Pretty Pages

A document's design can make a lasting impression. We provide some tips to achieve a pleasing combination of fonts, color, and spacing.

The fact that fonts define the look of a document is obvious. What may be less known is that fonts determine the structure as well. In fact, almost every important part of the layout is determined by your choice of fonts. That may seem like an exaggeration, but it is true all the same.

A document's selection of fonts determines the line spacing in the document, and line spacing is the main factor in a page's color or the darkness of the text. Once you have the page color, the line spacing that provides it becomes the magic number for setting up the rest of a document's structure.

However, before you can make such decisions, you need to know more about fonts in general, including where to get them, how they are classified, and how they work in LibreOffice in particular.

Finding Fonts

Many users never venture beyond the fonts already installed on their computers when they design documents. Nothing is wrong with that choice, but nothing is particularly right with it, either.

By using fonts that everyone has seen many times, you greatly increase the chance of creating an impression of blandness. Popular fonts like Times Roman, Arial, or Helvetica can work against you, because they are so familiar that they encourage readers to pay less attention.

Traditionally, additional computer fonts are designed for sale like any other software. Design houses like Adobe sell hundreds, including the official versions of well-known ones like Avenir and Gill Sans.

For years, the only alternative to paying for fonts was to use free or public domain fonts, many of which have a well-deserved reputation for low quality. However, in the past decade, many free-licensed fonts have become available. You can find hundreds of free fonts at Google Fonts [1] or the Open Font Library [2].

Fonts for LibreOffice

LibreOffice supports Postscript (.pfb), TrueType (.ttf), and OpenType (.otf) font file formats. Other font formats exist and are often still supported by Linux distributions, but these formats may be limited in selection and quality and are best avoided.

You can install additional fonts through your operating system or place them in the /share/fonts folder in the system path listed at Tools | Options | Path to install them only for LibreOffice or OpenOffice. Usually, installing fonts for the entire system is the most convenient, assuming that you have administration privileges.

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