LibreOffice – Comments Inserted on the Left rather than the Right

I’m guessing I have discovered a bug in LibreOffice, but I don’t know if that is the case for sure.  Regardless, it’s a problem.

Here’s the situation.  I have my students submit all sorts of things to me digitally so I can grade them digitally.  I just finished a marathon grading session and finals are over.  But about 5 of the dozens of papers students sent me had a weird problem.  When I would insert comments into the file, the comments would end up on the left of the document rather then the right, like this:

commentsonleft2

There is no way, as far as I could tell, to move the comments back to the right side of the document by clicking on the comment or changing its formatting.  No matter what I did, the comment was stuck on the left.  If I opened the file in Word, it was cozily back on the right.  Something was just weird and not working correctly.  I tried lots of things.  I even installed the development version of LibreOffice thinking it might just be a bug in the version I was using.  Nope.  It did it in every version I tried (mostly iterations of 4.4.2).

I was kind of stumped.  It wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I export the files to PDF to send back to the students, and that meant what the students would get would be something like this:

commentsonleft3

The text is highlighted as it should be, but the comment was cut off.  That’s, well, useless.

After spending about an hour trying to track down a solution (there was nothing online as near as I could tell), I finally lucked into a solution.  It turns out, this has something to do with a page style in Word.  I couldn’t figure out what the setting was in the page style, but I figured out that I could get the comment to switch to the right if I changed the page style in LibreOffice.  Here’s how you do that.  First, open the Styles and Formatting window (F11 or Format -> Styles and Formatting):

commentsonleft4

Once you have that open, click on the icon for “Page Styles”:

commentsonleft5

You’ll then see a list of options.  If you’re having the same problem, it’s likely that the applied page style is “Default Style.”

commentsonleft6

Double-click on any other style (I went with “First Page”) and, like magic, the comment should switch over to the right side of the document, like this:

commentsonleft7

And there you go.  The comments are now where they are supposed to be.  I hope others find this helpful.  This drove me nuts for a couple of days, and then for over an hour as I tried to solve the problem.  I literally found nothing using the following searches:

  • libreoffice insert comment on left
  • libreoffice comment on left
  • libreoffice move comment
  • libreoffice move comment from left to right

Anyone have any idea what is causing this problem?

4 Replies to “LibreOffice – Comments Inserted on the Left rather than the Right”

  1. I’ve had the same issue, and there appears to be a correlation between students with last names that suggest Arabic as a first language and the left-hand comment issue.

    I suspect that it is inherited from from “right to left” language settings as opposed to “left to right” language settings.

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