Apache OpenOffice enables you to design and print your own custom brochures with a minimum of hassle. Bi-fold brochures, where you fold a regular sheet of paper down the middle, are the easiest. OpenOffice includes a printing option that automatically formats your documents in the bi-fold brochure format. You can also use columns to create tri-fold brochures, where you fold a sheet of paper twice to create six panels.

Bi-Fold Brochures

Step 1

Select "Page" from the "Format" menu in Writer. Select the "Page" tab, and then set the page size to 5.5 by 8.5 inches using the Width and Height settings. This is the correct size for creating a brochure from regular 8.5-by-11-inch letter paper. To use a different paper size, set the page size to half the paper size. Leave the Orientation setting on "Portrait," and then click "OK."

Step 2

Design your pages in the same order you want them to appear in the brochure. Create four pages for a simple brochure made from one sheet of paper. For longer brochures or booklets, create four extra pages for each additional sheet of paper you plan to add.

Step 3

Select "Print" from the "File" menu when you're ready to print the brochure. Select the "Page Layout" tab in the Print dialog box, and then select the "Brochure" option. OpenOffice rearranges the pages so they will print in the correct order for folding into a brochure.

Step 4

Change the Page Sides setting to "Front Sides/Right Pages" so that OpenOffice will print only one side of the brochure, and then click the "Print" button.

Step 5

Reinsert the printed pages into the printer so that it will print on the other side, change the Page Sides setting in the Print dialog box to "Back Sides/Left Pages," and then click the "Print" button again. You may need a couple of test runs to figure out how to position the paper in the printer. Once you get it right, fold the paper in half to create the brochure.

Tri-Fold Brochures

Step 1

Select "Page" from the "Format" menu in Writer, and then change the Orientation setting under the "Page" tab to "Landscape." Decrease the size of your margins to about 0.5 inches, and then click "OK."

Step 2

Select "Columns" from the "Format" menu, and then select the picture of the three-column layout.

Step 3

Check the box next to AutoWidth so that all your columns will be of equal width.

Step 4

Change the Spacing setting to double the size of your page margins. For example, if you set the page margins at 0.5 inches earlier, change the Spacing setting to 1.0 inches.

Step 5

Uncheck the AutoWidth box so you can fine-tune the column widths. Increase the width of the first column by 0.03 inches, and then decrease the width of the last column by 0.03 inches. This step isn't essential, but it will help make the columns look centered after your fold the brochure, especially if you use thick paper. Click "OK" to create the columns.

Step 6

Position your cursor in the first column, and then press "Ctrl-Shift-Enter" to create a column break. The column break allows you to edit the column without the text flowing into the next column. Press "Ctrl-Shift-Enter" four more times to create a total of six unconnected columns on two pages. Each column represents a panel in your brochure, and each page represents one side of the final printed copy.

Step 7

Design your brochure, keeping in mind that when you fold the printed copy, the order of the panels will change. It may help at this point to print and fold a sample brochure.

Step 8

Print the first page of your brochure when you are done, and then reinsert the paper into the printer and print the second page on the back.