Open Office Calc Basic Spreadsheet Tutorial

Open Office Calc Tutorial - Step by Step

Person typing on a laptop with a spreadsheet displayed.

 Pexels / Pixabay

Open Office Calc is an electronic spreadsheet program offered free of charge by openoffice.org. The program is easy to use and contains most, if not all of the commonly used features found in spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel.

This tutorial covers the steps to creating a basic spreadsheet in Open Office Calc.

Instructions in this article applies to OpenOffice Calc v. 4.1.6.

Tutorial Topics

Some topics that will be covered:

  • Adding data to a spreadsheet
  • Widening Columns
  • Adding a Date Function and a Range Name
  • Adding formulas
  • Changing data alignment in cells
  • Number formatting - percent and currency
  • Changing cell background color
  • Changing the font color

Entering Data into Open Office Calc

Entering data into a spreadsheet is always a three-step process. These steps are:

  1. Select on the cell where you want the data to go.

  2. Type your data into the cell.

  3. Press the ENTER key on the keyboard or click on another cell with the mouse.

For this tutorial

An OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet.

To follow this tutorial, enter the data exactly as shown above into a blank spreadsheet using the following steps:

  1. Open a blank Calc spreadsheet file.

  2. Select the cell indicated by the cell reference provided.

  3. Type the corresponding data into the selected cell.

  4. Press the Enter key on the keyboard or select the next cell in the list with the mouse.

Widening Columns

After entering the data you will probably find that several words, such as Deduction, are too wide for a cell. To correct this so that the entire word is visible in the column:

  1. Place the mouse pointer on the line between columns C and D in the column header. (The pointer will change to a double-headed arrow.)

    Selecting a column to widen in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Select with the left mouse button and drag the double-headed arrow to the right to widen column C.

    Widening the column in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Widen other columns to show data as needed.

Adding the Date and a Range Name

It is normal to add the date to a spreadsheet. Built into Open Office Calc are a number of DATE functions that can be used to do this. In this tutorial, we will use the TODAY function.

  1. Select cell C4.

    Cell C4 is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Enter = TODAY ( )

    Entering in the Today formula in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Press the ENTER key on the keyboard.

    The results of the Today formula in OpenOffice Calc.
  4. The current date should appear in cell C4

Adding a Range Name in Open Office Calc

To add a range name in Open Office Calc, do the following:

  1. Select cell C6 in the spreadsheet.

    The cell C6 is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Click on the Name Box.

    Selecting the Name Box in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Enter rate in the Name Box.

    Entering rate in the Name box in OpenOffice Calc.
  4. Cell C6 now has the name of rate. We will use the name to simplify creating formulas in the next step.

Adding Formulas

  1. Select cell C9.

    The cell C9 is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Type in the formula = B9 * rate.

    Entering a rate formula in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Press Enter

    The results of the rate formula in OpenOffice Calc.

Calculating net salary

  1. Select cell D9.

    The cell D9 is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Enter the formula = B9 - C9.

    Entering in a subtraction formula in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Press Enter.

    net salary has been computed in OpenOffice Calc.

Copying the Formulas in Cells C9 and D9 to Other Cells

  1. Select cell C9 again.

    The results of the rate formula in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Move the mouse pointer over the fill handle (a small black dot) in the bottom right corner of the active cell.

    Selecting a cell to copy in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. When the pointer changes to a black plus sign, select and hold down the left mouse button and drag the fill handle down to cell C12. The formula in C9 will be copied to cells C10 through C12.

    Selecting a column of cells in OpenOffice Calc.
  4. Select cell D9.

    Selecting the net salary cell to copy in OpenOffice Calc.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 and drag the fill handle down to cell D12. The formula in D9 will be copied to cells D10 - D12.

    The cells in net salary have been copied in OpenOffice Calc.

Changing Data Alignment

  1. Drag select cells A2 - D2.

    A ranged of cells has been selected. in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Select Merge Cells on the Formatting toolbar to merge the selected cells.

    A range of cells has been merged in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Select Align Center Horizontally on the Formatting toolbar to center the title across the selected area.

    Merged cells are being aligned horizontally in OpenOffice Calc.
  4. Drag select cells B4 - B6.

    Date and deduction rate cells are selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  5. Select Align right on the Formatting toolbar to right align the data in these cells.

    Aligning the cells right in OpenOffice Calc.
  6. Drag select cells A9 - A12.

    The last names are selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  7. Select Align right on the Formatting toolbar to right align the data in these cells.

    The names are being aligned right in OpenOffice Calc.
  8. Drag select cells A8 - D8.

    The header row is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  9. Select Align Center Horizontally on the Formatting toolbar to center the data in these cells.

    The header row is being aligned to the right in OpenOffice Calc.
  10. Drag select cells C4 - C6.

    Date and deduction rate cells are highlighted in OpenOffice Calc.
  11. Select Align Center Horizontally on the Formatting toolbar to center the data in these cells.

    Aligning the cells centered horizontally in OpenOffice Calc.
  12. Drag select cells B9 - D12.

    Cells are aligned centered and horizontal in OpenOffice Calc.
  13. Select Align Center Horizontally on the Formatting toolbar to center the data in these cells.

    Cells are aligned horizontally centered in OpenOffice Calc.

Adding Number Formatting

Number formatting refers to the addition of currency symbols, decimal markers, percent signs, and other symbols that help to identify the type of data present in a cell and to make it easier to read.

In this step, we add percent signs and currency symbols to our data.

Adding the Percent Sign

  1. Select cell C6.

    Cell C6 is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Select Number Format: Percent on the Formatting toolbar to add the percent symbol to the selected cell.

    The percentage format is selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Select Number Format: Delete Decimal Place on the Formatting toolbar twice to remove the two decimal places.

    The percentage decimal is set to zero in OpenOffice Calc.
  4. The data in cell C6 should now read as 6%.

Adding the Currency Symbol

  1. Drag select cells B9 - D12.

    The cells are selected in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Select Number Format: Currency on the Formatting toolbar to add the dollar sign to the selected cells.

    Setting the cells to a currency format in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. The data in cells B9 - D12 should now show the dollar symbol ( $ ) and two decimal places.

Changing cell background color

  1. Select the merged cells A2 - D2 on the spreadsheet.

  2. Select Background Color on the Formatting toolbar (looks like a paint can) to open the background color drop-down list.

    Selecting cells to color the background in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Choose Sea Blue from the list to change the background color of merged cells A2 - D2 to blue.

    Setting the spreadsheet title to sky blue background in OpenOffice Calc.
  4. Drag select cells A8 - D8 on the spreadsheet.

    Setting the column headers to sky blue color in OpenOffice Calc.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3.

Changing Font Color

  1. Select merged cells A2 - D2 on the spreadsheet.

    Selecting the title header in OpenOffice Calc.
  2. Select Font Color on the Formatting toolbar (it is a large letter A) to open the font color drop-down list.

    Setting the title color to white in OpenOffice Calc.
  3. Select White from the list to change the color of the text in merged cells A2 - D2 to white.

    The title is now white.
  4. Drag select cells A8 - D8 on the spreadsheet.

    Selecting white for the text in OpenOffice Calc.
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 above.

  6. Drag select cells B4 - C6 on the spreadsheet.

    Select text to change to sky blue in OpenOffice Calc.
  7. Select Font Color on the Formatting toolbar to open the font color drop-down list.

    Cells selected to change the font color in OpenOffice Calc.
  8. Choose Sea Blue from the list to change the color of the text in cells B4 - C6 to blue.

    Selecting sky blue for the text in OpenOffice Calc.
  9. Drag select cells A9 - D12 on the spreadsheet.

    Selecting the data to change to sky blue in OpenOffice Calc.
  10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 above.

At this point, if you have followed all the steps of this tutorial correctly, your spreadsheet should resemble the spreadsheet pictured below.

The finished spreadsheet in OpenOffice Calc.