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Abiword is a word processor that provides a lighter alternative for LibreOffice Writer and OpenOffice Writer, while at the same time providing great functionality. Abiword supports many standard document types, such as ODF documents, Microsoft Word documents, WordPerfect documents, Rich Text Format documents and HTML web pages.


Install the abiword package from the official repositories. You may want to install dictionaries if you want spell check, which can be provided by the aspell-en package for English.

For additional plugins, install the abiword-plugins package.

To fix tiny cursor and misaligned text issues, install either ttf-liberation from the official repositories or ttf-ms-fontsAUR from the AUR and ttf-freefont from the official repositories.


If you want to change the default styles in Abiword, you should open a new document, change it to your own needs, and save it as the template name normal.awt in the $HOME/.AbiSuite/templates directory. After that, your new documents will follow the template.

Grammar Checking

Install the abiword-plugins package and enable grammar checking from Edit>Preferences>Spell Checking>Automatic grammar checking.

Change keybindings

See this wiki post on how to change the default key bindings in Abiword.

I was not able to get the keybindings to work in the manner described in the aforementioned wiki.

In order to get the vi keybinding to work, I added the following line to the system.profile which was located in /usr/include/abiword-3.0

LaTeX fonts

The package abiword-plugins comes with a function which allows user to insert LaTeX codes in a document. To display mathematics symbols properly, one needs to download latex-xft-fonts and save it to the directory /usr/share/fonts. To install the font, extract the tarball and then run the following:

# fc-cache -fv


Build fails with GCC 4.6

The bug has been reported and fixed upstream in a patch that is not yet (as of Abiword 2.8.6-4) available in Arch. If you experience this problem, you have to apply the patch to the PKGBUILD yourself.

Fix for print dialog crash

Note: This bug has been reported as non-existent for version 2.8.1 or higher. However, this section will remain for legacy versions or if it crops up again,

For some reason, the current versions of Abiword and libgnomeprint are not playing nice together. The .abw default template causes the program to crash when the user attempts to print. The solution is to force abiword to work with the .rtf format instead. By following the steps below, you will set the default save format to .rtf and trick Abiword into using a .rtf file as its default template.

Open ~/.AbiSuite/AbiWord.Profile and insert the following line into the second <scheme> section.


It should look similar to the following:


It is then neccessary to change the default template. You must follow these steps exactly.

  1. Open Abiword and save a blank document titled normal.rtf in ~/.AbiSuite/templates/. If the directory does not exist, create it.
  2. Rename the file to normal.awt.

Do not just save a blank .awt file! You must trick Abiword into using a .rtf template in order for this to work.

As soon as the conflict between Abiword and libgnomeprint is resovled, these instructions will no longer be neccessary and should be removed.