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How to create and insert images (graphics)

How to create images that show what the reader needs to know, can be read easily on screen and when printed in black-and-white (good contrast), do not use unnecessarily large amounts of ink or toner when printed, and are unchanged when exported to a variety of file formats. Also how to insert images into user guide chapters.

Creating images for OOo user guides

Images may be screen captures, photographs, or graphics (such as diagrams) created in Draw or another program.

Screen captures

We on the Documentation team use a variety of operating systems and desktop themes (colour schemes), but we want the images in our user guides to look reasonably consistent. Here are some suggestions for creating consistency.

  • Use a neutral (primarily grey or similar) theme with high contrast. Please do not use bright or operating-system specific colours such as blue, purple, or green.
  • Use the Galaxy icon set (in Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > View), not Automatic (which can vary with your operating system).
  • Capture only the required dialog box or other area, or crop the image after capturing it. If you include the mouse pointer, be sure it is pointing to a relevant item, not randomly positioned.
  • Read the text carefully to ensure you set up any data that should be shown and have marked any selections (such as checkboxes or radio buttons) that are discussed. If the image is supposed to show the dialog box before you make changes, be sure it does not show the results instead. Here are some examples of images that do not match the text and need to be redone.
  • We rarely need to capture the full OOo window, except for the introductory chapters where the parts of the window are labelled and described. When a full window is required, reduce its size as much as possible (while retaining essential information) and then capture the image. In some cases (such as the dialog box for customising a Table of Contents), the optional Preview section can be deselected.

Cropping: Some screen captures can be used without further modification. Many, however, benefit from cropping. There are two reasons for cropping: to fit an image on the page and still have the relevant parts readable, and to reduce wasted space and focus the readers' attention on a particular portion of the screen.

Some screen capture programs have a feature for choosing an area when you do the capture. You can also crop the images in a graphics package. Do not crop them in OOo itself, because that cropping is not retained when the file is exported to MediaWiki, HTML, and possibly other formats (only PDF retains the cropping).

Here are some suggestions for choosing what to crop:

  • Focus the readers' attention on the part being discussed, especially when the full dialog box has already been shown and the text is referring to one particular part of it. Here is an example.
  • Remove blank space in dialog boxes that are of standard size but use only a small portion of the area for data or selections. In most cases, cutting off the bottom portion (with the standard OK, Cancel, and Next buttons) does not reduce readers' comprehension, especially when the full dialog box has already been shown.
  • Make a wide dialog box (such as the Tools > Options one) fit on a page by cropping the portion that isn't essential to the discussion, for example the navigation tree on the left.

Annotation (labelling): Use Draw or a graphics package to label screen captures, group and save the result as a single images so the labels are part of the image. Do not use Writer's drawing tools to label an image, because the labels will be lost or become disconnected from the screen capture when a file is exported to MediaWiki, HTML, or other formats.

To assist translators, label images without text (such as toolbars) using numbers, not words. Screen captures with text (such as dialog boxes) need to be recaptured by the translators anyway, so you can label them with text.

When creating labels:

  • Use a line weight and font size and weight that will be compatible with the surrounding text when the image is at its final size in the document (images may be reduced in size when in the document).
  • Use a white background for the area surrounding an image, when labels are outside the image. You can use a light colour for the background of labels placed inside an image (to help them be noticeable), but choose a light colour that will print as pale grey in black-and-white.
  • Ensure all numbers or words in the labels are lined up neatly.
  • When labelling dialog boxes, it's usually best to put the labels above or below the image, not to the sides, to help fit the image on the Writer page. With small images, labels beside the image may work well or better; this is a matter of judgement.

Inserting images in ODT files

To prevent images from moving around during editing (especially when you are adding or deleting text), please follow the procedure below.

Note: These instructions apply mainly to screenshots and other images that are large enough to put between paragraphs of text.

  1. (optional) Have paragraph marks turned on (helps you to see what's happening).
  2. Press Enter at the end of a paragraph to create a new blank paragraph. It will probably have the style OOoTextBody.
  3. Change the paragraph's style to OOoFigure. The paragraph marker should now be centered on the page.
  4. Choose Insert > Picture > From File to insert the image, OR use drag and drop to insert the image.
  5. When the image comes in, it is selected. Immediately right-click on it and choose Anchor > As Character.
  6. With the image still selected, right-click again and choose Caption. Select Figure as the Category (if it shows anything else in that box) and type the caption. If Figure is not one of the choices, type the word Figure to create that category.
  7. Note: Not all images need Figure numbers and captions.

  8. Click anywhere outside the frame to deselect it, then click in the caption line and change the paragraph style to OOoFigureCaption.

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