How to Use an Open Office Spreadsheet

by Jennifer Claerr

Open Office is a free, full-featured open-source office suite software program. You can use Calc to create your own spreadsheets and to open spreadsheets created in other programs. This software is versatile. You can use it to store important data and do complex calculations. It can take months to learn how to use all its features. However, anyone can learn the most basic features of Calc in just a few minutes. This article will explain how to use an Open Office spreadsheet.

Start Calc. Alter the cells to your preferences. Select a column of cells you would like to change and right-click on them. Click "Format Cells..." Click the "Numbers" tab to change the number formatting to a percent, currency, date, time or other format. Select the "Font" tab to change the font, typeface and size. Select the "Font Effects" tab to add an underline, a strikethrough, a specific color or other characteristic to the text. Select the "Borders" tab to change the line and spacing attributes. Click the "Background" tab to add a color to the background of the cells. Click "OK."

Right-click the blue bar above the cells you have selected. Select "Column Width." Change the width in inches to an amount that will fit the data you intend to put in the cells. Repeat this step on each column you need to alter. Deselect the column by clicking anywhere on the spreadsheet.

Begin entering your data. If you copy and paste data into the fields, right-click the column and select "Paste Special." Choose "Unformatted Text" from the field. This will preserve the formatting you set in Step 1.

Place the cursor at the end of your numerical columns and use the sum or "sigma" icon from the formula bar if you need to add the numbers in your spreadsheet. Press the check sign in the formula bar to complete the sum. However, if you need to perform a different mathematical calculation, click the function wizard just to the left of the sum button. Scroll down in the window to find the formula you need.

Save your work. To save in a file format other than *.ods, click "Save As..." Select the desired format, and click "Save." To print your spreadsheet, click "File" and select "Print..." To save the file as a PDF document, click "File" and select "Export as PDF."


  • check Calc can open files that were created in Microsoft Excel. It can also save spreadsheets in Excel format. You can open *.ods format spreadsheets in any software program that is OpenDocument compliant.

About the Author

Jennifer Claerr is a web writer who has written for online sites such as Demand Studios,, and She has a degree in art from the University of Texas at Arlington. She writes on a variety of topics, including holidays, health and fitness, travel, computers and art.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera lustfish