SUSE Linux comes with the OpenOffice.org suite of office applications that includes Writer for preparing documents. In Writer, page styles control the page layout, and each page can have its own style. The usual approach is to define three page styles: First Page, Left Page, and Right Page.

• Define the First Page style with whatever applies to the first page such as a special header and no page number.
• The Left Page style is the style for the even-numbered pages.
• The Right Page style is for odd-numbered pages.

For each page style, you can also define the page style that applies to the following page. The idea would be to define Left Page as the next page style for First Page and Right Page as the style of the page that follows the Left Page style. That way, the page styles are correct for all the pages as long as you start with the First Page style. You may also want to define a Landscape page style so you can use it for pages that have to be in landscape orientation.

If you're familiar with Microsoft Word, you know that the page setup — paper size, orientation, margins, and so on — applies to all pages in the document. In Writer, a page style does not automatically apply to the entire document. Instead, each page has its own page style. Of course, you can choose to apply the same page style to all the pages. Essentially, you have more fine-grained control over page layouts in Writer.

A typical page layout task is to insert objects created in other OpenOffice.org applications, such as a Calc spreadsheet, an Impress slide, or a Draw drawing. You can insert such objects by choosing Insert --> Object --> OLE Object. Incidentally, OLE stands for Object Linking and Embedding, which is just a fancy term for the ability to create a document by adding objects like charts and drawings that are created in different applications.

When you add objects to a document, keep this caveat in mind: You can edit an object directly in the document only by using the application that originally created the object.

One object that you can insert into a Writer document is a mathematical formula, and this means serious formulas with integral signs and Greek letters like alpha and sigma. If you're writing a scientific paper with complex equations, you'll really appreciate this feature of OpenOffice.org.

Here's a typical sequence of steps to insert a formula into a Writer document (this process is similar for inserting other objects):

1. Position the cursor and choose Insert --> Object --> Formula.

The user interface changes to that of OpenOffice.org Math — an application for writing mathematical formulas — and a small frame for the formula appears in the document. The formula is typeset in that frame.

2. Select a formula type from the top two rows of the Selection window.

The lower rows in the Selection window show available formulas of that type. For example, the summation category (denoted by an uppercase Greek letter sigma) includes integral signs.

3. Click a specific formula, such as an integral.

The Math command for this formula appears in the Commands window and parts of the formula appear in the document.

4. Fill in the arguments for the formula.

As you construct the formula with commands in the Commands window, the formatted formula appears in the document.

5. To change the font size of the formula, choose Format --> Font Size and specify the font size.

6. Click anywhere else in the Writer document to return to the Writer user interface.

7. Double-click the formula to edit it again.

Of course, Writer has many page layout features. You can use tables, numbered and bulleted lists, and columns. Writer also supports frames — rectangular boxes in which you can place text, graphics, and even other frames. Using frames, you can place just about anything anywhere on the document.