Apache OpenOffice's Writer program works as a free solution for creating and designing a magazine -- as long as you're not overly concerned with exact page object positioning. While OpenOffice's features do not stack up against professional-grade publishing suites like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress, OpenOffice's free price tag makes it appealing for private parties just starting out in magazine publication and design.

Step 1

Launch the OpenOffice Writer program.

Step 2

Load the layout template, if you're using one. Using a template can help streamline the page generation process by establishing a consistent page layout. Create a new OpenOffice Writer document using a template by selecting the "File" menu, choosing "Open," and then selecting the template file in the file browser. In addition to supporting templates made for the program, OpenOffice can import Microsoft Word templates.

Step 3

Enter the unformatted magazine text in the document, and then space out the content on a page-by-page basis. Placing the text in the document first lets you apply layout logic to specific text sections instead of the entire document at once.

Step 4

Configure the text column layout by highlighting the desired text, selecting the "Format" menu, choosing "Columns," clicking the column count icon, and then selecting "OK." The column logic applies only to the selected text, allowing for multiple column settings on the same page. The Columns menu also supports customized width, spacing and separator lines.

Step 5

Create content tables to hold text and images within the layout as a more specific alternative to columns. Access the Table tool by clicking the "Table" menu, mousing over "Insert," and then selecting "Table." This tool lets you set the table column and row count, as well as configure a heading section. You can also embed tables inside other tables. Tables adjust row height relative to the largest column within the row.

Step 6

Embed pictures within the content by clicking the cursor in the text where you want to place the image, opening the "Insert" menu, highlighting "picture," choosing "From File," and then selecting the desired image in the file browser. Once inserted, you can resize your images and move them around; OpenOffice shifts content around image placement.

Step 7

Export the completed magazine as a PDF file by selecting "File," clicking "Export as PDF," and then selecting "Export." While OpenOffice can read other word processor documents, other word processors may not support OpenOffice files, so using the PDF format ensures compatibility.