When working on a large document, it’s more convenient to split the project into several smaller chuck-sized documents rather than try to cram everything into one large file. And once you’re ready to merge all the separate documents into one large file, the master document of LibreOffice Writer can help.
Benefits Of Using Master Document
Using a master document in a program like LibreOffice saves a lot of time and streamlines the styling process. Instead of having to manually copy and paste, or individually modify sub-documents, a master document acts as a container for all the files, allowing for easy editing, updating, and progress tracking.
The master document gives you the ability to rearrange the sub-documents in any order and at any time with a simple drag-and-drop. Even Microsoft Word doesn’t have the feature.
Step 1: Start a New Master Document.
Click on File > Master Document from the top menu bar.
Tips: If you can’t find the top menu bar, don’t worry. It’s because you either might have accidentally hidden it or switched to a different UI. In both cases, you can certainly find the File menu at the top-left side of the window.
Step 2: Understanding The Navigator Window
An empty master document opens with a new pop-up window called the navigator. This window provides the options through which we will be managing the sub-documents; such as inserting new files, editing, updating, and rearranging them in different orders.
Although most of the time, the navigator window shows up automatically, you can open it manually by pressing F5 on the keyboard. You can also drag the window to the left side of the document for an organized and clean work flow.
Let’s see the options given by the navigator window.
(1) Toggle Master View: Let’s you switch between the master view and normal view. (If you’ve accidentally clicked on this option, don’t panic. Click the icon again to return back to the master view.)
(2) Edit: Let’s you edit the imported sub-documents.
(3) Update: Let’s you update the master document to reload the modified changes of the linked sub-documents.
(4) Import: Let’s you import new files into the master document. It contains 3 sub-menus: Index (for adding a table of content), File, and New Document.
- (4.1) Index: Allows you to include a table of contents.
- (4.2) File: Lets you import sub-documents from the local storage.
- (4.3) New Document: Let’s you create a new sub-document right from the master document.
Step 3: Adding Sub-documents To The Master Document
Once you get comfortable with the above options, click Text > Insert > File. A new file chooser dialog window will open. Select the documents you want to import and click the Open button.
Notes: You can hold the CTRL key on the keyboard to select multiple documents at once. However, if the files are not in the same directory, you can put them in once place before importing them into the master document, else you have to import them one by one.
You can rearrange the imported docs later if you need to. For that, select a sub-document and drag it up-and-down on the list.
Step 4: Exporting The Master Document
Once you’re done editing the master document, you can export the final merged file in different formats. You can export the master document in the following format – ODT, HTML, XML, PDF, EPUB. Select File > Export.
Keep in mind that exporting the master document is not the same as saving it. Master document are always saved in a .ODM file. At the time of export, you can export it as a regular word document with the standard .ODT file extension.
Saving a master document (not exporting it) allows you to edit the file later for correction. Think of a master document as a project file where you do the actual work – from editing, updating, to organizing the individual sub-documents. And when you export it, LibreOffice merges all the changes into a single file.