Openoffice Writer

THL Toolbox > Tibetan Scripts, Fonts & Related Issues > Software Support for Tibetan > How to use Unicode Tibetan in Writer

How to use Unicode Tibetan in Writer

Contributor(s) to this documentation: Christopher Fynn.

The Utility of this Software in Regards to Tibetan

This is the world's most common open source and free word processing program and is important for making Tibetan word processing documents.

Installing OpenType layout engine with Tibetan script support.

Windows Xp or 2000 users must first install an updated version of Uniscribe (usp10.dll) with Tibetan script support. see: Updating Uniscribe For Tibetan In Windows 2000 & Xp

Enabling Complex Text Layout (CTL) in OpenOffice.

Choose: Tools - Options - Language Settings - Languages…


  • User interface: Default.
  • Locale setting : choose "Dzongkha" if you want automatic dates and page numbers in Tibetan script, - otherwise keep your own locale. (Note: there is currently no 'Tibetan' locale in OpenOffice as no Tibetan locale details have as yet been submitted to external link: CLDR repository.)
  • Decimal separator key: - Same as locale setting or may be changed.
  • Default currency: allows you to specify the default currency that is used for the currency format and the currency fields. Default is same as the locale setting so you may want to change this.
  • Default languages for documents:
    • Western: English (UK) - or whatever you want
    • CTL: Dzongkha ('Tibetan' not yet an available choice)
  • Enabled for Asian languages: - here you can activate support for 'Asian' (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) languages if you want to.
  • Enabled for complex text layout (CTL): - Activates complex text layout support - essential for Tibetan script, Devanagri etc.

Next, Choose: Tools - Options - Language Settings - Complex Text Layout…


  • Use Sequence checking: If Sequence Input Checking (SIC) is enabled, will not allow a character next to another if this is forbidden by a rule.
    • Restricted: Prevents the use as well as the printing of illegal character combinations.
  • Cursor control: Used to select the type of text cursor movement and text selection for mixed text (right-to-left mixed with left-to-right text direction) - this is for use with scripts such as Arabic.
    • Logical: The text cursor moves to the text end with Arrow Right and to the text begin with Arrow Left.
    • Visual: The text cursor moves to the right with Arrow Right and to the left with Arrow Left.

Setting default fonts for Tibetan script text.

Choose: Tools - Options - Writer - Basic Fonts (CTL)…


Here you should type-in or select the names of OpenType / Unicode Tibetan fonts for all options. These settings do not affect your default fonts for Latin script text and only apply when you enter Tibetan Unicode characters in a document.

  • Basic fonts:
    • Default: CTL font to be used for the Default Paragraph Style. Can be overridden by explicitly defining another font in a Style used for paragraphs.
    • Size: Specifies the size of the font.
    • Heading: Specifies the CTL font to be used for headings.
    • List: Specifies the CTL font for lists and numbering and all derived styles.
    • Caption: CTL font used for the captions of images and tables.
    • Index: CTL font used for indexes, alphabetical indexes, and tables of contents.
  • Current document only: If you check this the settings will only apply to the current document. If you frequently work with Tibetan, leave this option un-checked.
  • Default button: If you click this button the values visible in the dialog box will be set back to installation values. You probably don't want to do this!

The Utility of Writer for Tibetan script. Writer (version 2.1 and above) works very well for Tibetan script.

  • Line breaks occur after a tsek character - not in the middle of a syllable.
  • Switching between Tibetan script and Roman fonts is automatic - depending on characters typed.
  • Lists of Tibetan or Dzongkha words can be automatically sorted in dictionary order.
  • Tibetan digits can be used in fields (automatic page numbering, numbered lists & headings, and in dates etc.)


Collation (sorting) of Tibetan / Dzongkha lists or tables in dictionary order works in OOorg 2.1x however there was a external link: bug which caused Dzongka / Tibetan collation not work properly in OOorg versions 2.2x and 2.3x. This has now been rectified in OO version 2.4. You must still choose "Dzongkha" to collate Tibetan text.

External Links:

Provided for unrestricted use by the external link: Tibetan and Himalayan Library