How to learn spreadsheet basics with openoffice calc

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The term spreadsheet was derived from a large piece of paper that accountants used for business finances. The accountant would spread information like costs, payments, taxes, income, etc out on a single, big, oversized sheet of paper to get a complete financial overview.

Spreadsheets today have more and more uses. Some examples are:

  • Spreadsheets act like a calculator by automatically doing calculations.
  • Spreadsheets are used for tracking personal investments, budgeting, invoices, inventory tracking, statistical analysis, numerical modeling, address books, telephone books, printing labels, etc.
  • Spreadsheets are used in almost every profession to calculate, graph, analyze and store information.
  • Spreadsheets are used for What-if calculations. Change one number in a spreadsheet and all the calculations in a large spreadsheet will re-calculate, will automatically change.

With this wiki learn how to use OpenOffice Calc to learn your way around this powerful (and free) software. [1] X Research source

CALC (Spreadsheet ) Tutorials

To View a tutorial on your screen, click on the blue underlined name of the tutorial. For some it is better to view tutorials in the OpenOffice format

To download a tutorial in the OpenOffice format, click on the blue underlined OO for the tutorial. The tutorials can be “Saved to disk” or opened and worked with as a normal OpenOffice file .

All tutorials (seen on our website or downloaded to your computer) have active links. The blue underlined printing are links. Click on any link and you will jump to where that link leads.

When you first download a tutorial you may have to activate the links. At the beginning of the tutorials, right-click anywhere in the Table of Contents then click Update Index/Table.

To do a tutorial, we suggest you download and print the tutorial so you can have it available as you do the step-by-step procedure in the tutorial.


  • 1 Clarification of aims
  • 2 Ensuring learners drive your design
  • 3 Learning activity
  • 4 Learning resources
  • 5 Teaching and learning approach
  • 6 Using the materials
  • 7 Evaluating the materials

Clarification of aims

Working with Spreadsheets in Calc is a tutorial to help learners who are new to using spreadsheets learn and practice the foundation skills. Users with some haphazard and/or rote experience using spreadsheets will also benefit.

Ensuring learners drive your design

Who are the learners/users/target audience?

Adolescents and adults who are new to using spreadsheets or have only haphazard and/or rote previous experience

What are the particular needs of this group?

Users will need concise and easy to understand instruction and relevant, interesting practice activities. Users will want to know whether or not they performed the task successfully.

How are their needs going to be catered for in the design of your resource?

The tutorial will use clear, concise language, include interesting practice activities and will provide “solutions” for activities by user-request for comparison to their own work.

What is the situation in which most learners will use this resource? For example will they have access to computers, the internet, or will they need printed versions of materials?

All users will have access to a computer, although not necessarily to the internet. Some users may find it helpful to print the tutorial for use/study off-line.

Learning activity

What are the overall learning goals/objectives for this resource or course? What changes do we want learners to show as a result of using the resource?

Upon completion of this module a learner will be able to.

  • Develop, format, modify and use a spreadsheet
  • Generate and apply standard formulae
  • Create and format graphs/charts

What types of learning activities are learners going to need to DO to achieve the learning goals?

Learners will need to engage with Calc as specified in the activities: formatting, creating formulae, creating charts.

How are we going to check that learners have achieved what they set out to?

Not sure that we can know, but if the learner is working with an instructor, the instructor could review the activity results.

What feedback will learners need to receive to know how they are going?

How are learners going to communicate with each other and ‘teachers’ while they work through the resource?

Not sure, tutorial is designed for independent work.

Learning resources

What relevant resources and tools already exist that learners can use?

  • Tutorials for OpenOffice. Calc (Spreadsheet) Tutorials[1] — tutorials based on OO 2.3. Organized for user to follow along. Static design.
  • in pictures. Calc In Pictures[2] — very concise language. Organized for user to follow along. Static design. Includes advertising.
  • Calc Spreadsheet Tutorials[3] — basics are written only for 1.1x. Includes advertisements.
  • Lessons for Calc[4] – wonderfully clear screenshots. Interesting language, but a bit wordy. Screenshots shown for Windows operating system

What, if any, new resources need to be created?

  • Includes independent activities with on-request “solutions”
  • Displays OOo Calc 3 running in Ubuntu
  • No advertisements
  • Includes practice activities with available solutions

How should these resources be used?

Independent study, although there may be situations where it becomes part of a blended learning experience.

What opportunities can we build in to encourage learners to discover and share their own resources?

What support will learners need?

Maybe there’s an OOo forum where users who were having trouble could get real-time help.

Teaching and learning approach

What philosophies or approaches underpin what we want to achieve?

Structured to emphasize doing, with reading-about used to provide initial instruction. Will include lots of visuals to reinforce actions as the material progresses.

Using the materials

How do we recommend this resource be used?

The learner works through the pages of the tutorial using an internet browser, performing the indicated tasks in Calc as the content progresses.

Evaluating the materials

What feedback would you like about the resource you have created?

The best feedback would be from users who are using the materials to learn how to operate OpenOffice Calc and from a number of different kinds of users (different with respect to age, gender, culture, geography).

How are you going to get this and when?

I envision a survey form where users provide ratings in response to questions, as well as some open ended responses. Is there a way on WE to create a form that could feed into a table, like on google docs spreadsheet?


These free OpenOffice tutorials are designed for anyone who is interested in making the shift from Microsoft Office to Boost your confidence with this free open source software and get a head start on your career. Learn how to create impressive business documents with OpenOffice Writer, attractive presentations using Impress, spreadsheets using Calc and databases using Base.


Knowledge of Keyboarding..


  • You will need to download the latest version of the Open Office Suite at the following link:
  • Adobe Flash Player so you can view the Video Lessons (if available). You can download the latest version at the following link: Adobe Flash Player.
  • Adobe Reader to view pdf presentation files if available at the following link: Adobe Reader Download

Recommended Text:.

Free E-Book: Getting Started with 3.3 (Use this E-Book for information on how to install and set-up the Open Office Suite.)

Exercise Files: Download from if required


At the completion of these tutorials, students will be able to:

  • Learn about the power of open source software
  • Create business documents with Writer
  • Create an engaging and interactive presentation with Impress
  • Create a database for your business with Base
  • Create spreadsheets, charts and graphs with Calc


INTRODUCTION TO OPENOFFICE WRITER: Learn about OpenOffice Writer and why it may be useful in your business, school or for your personal use.

THE WRITER USER INTERFACE: Learn how to start Writer and get an overview of the Writer interface including the menus and toolbars.

CREATING AND EDITING A WRITER DOCUMENT – THE BUSINESS LETTER: Learn how to create a new Blank Document and display non printing characters by using the Show/Hide Symbol. Learn how to insert text in a document, use the Enter key, set line spacing, display the Ruler, use Writer’s Word Wrap feature, check and change your document margins, save your work using the Save As command using Writer’s native.ODT File Format


CREATING AND DELIVERING A PRESENTATION: Get an overview of Impress by creating a basic presentation. Learn how to navigate the Impress Window, insert text in a slide, use the Master Design themes, use the Impress toolbars, insert multi-bulleted lists, choose a slide layout, save your presentation and run your slideshow.

How to learn spreadsheet basics with openoffice calc

How to learn spreadsheet basics with openoffice calc

The open-source world is growing incredibly fast. To take a step into this, I have started to learn about macro programming in LibreOffice. In the first two or three story that I will write about macro programming, I will use this tutorial mainly. But it has some missing parts and a little complicated to start from zero. So you can check this out if you have any problems that I did not mention.

LibreOffice is equivalent to Microsoft Office in the open-source software world. There is another office like LibreOffice which is called OpenOffice. OpenOffice is almost the same with LibreOffice and what I have done here with LibreOffice work in OpenOffice too. You can see the differences between them from here if you wish.

LibreOffice has four main parts. Writer is a word processor, Calc is a spreadsheet program, Impress is a presentation program, and Draw is a program like Microsoft’s Visio.

To start using macros in LibreOffice, we need to make settings first. Let’s make these now.

We should go to LibreOffice > Tools> Options> LibreOffice > Security

How to learn spreadsheet basics with openoffice calc

and change Macro Security > Medium

How to learn spreadsheet basics with openoffice calc

In this way, LibreOffice will allow us to use our macros, but will also protect us from macros that we do not know the source.

Macros are pieces of programming code that runs in office suites and helps automate routine tasks. Specifically, in LibreOffice API these codes can be written with so many programming languages thanks to the Universal Network Objects (UNO). Among them are: Open/LibreOffice Basic (Thanks to Foad S Farimani for the correction 🙂 ), Java, C/C++, Javascript, Python.

So which language should we use? Since LibreOffice is multi-platform we can use our documents at different platforms like Mac, Windows, and Linux. So we need a cross-platform language to run our macros at different platforms. We can eliminate Visual Basic because of that.

Java and C/C++ require compilation, are much more complex and verbose. So we can eliminate these too.

Probably we will have some problems while working with numbers if we choose JavaScript. For example it has rounding errors ( 0.1 + 0.2 does not equals 0.3 in Javascript). So we can eliminate this too. But Python is very powerful at numeric computation thanks to its libraries. Libraries likeNumpy and Numexpr is excellent for this job. So we should choose Python 3 for macro programming.

Before we create our own macro, let’s see how we can manipulate LibreOffice with Python by connecting to LibreOffice from the command line.

First, launch LibreOffice Calc with an open socket to communicate with from the shell.

Update: After I updated my Libreoffice, soffice command does not work anymore. To reach soffice you can write this:

$VERSION is your libreoffice version.

Write these commands to the comment line and this should open Calc.

(If you have any problem, have a look at the proposed workarounds.)

Now we have to open Python Shell.

We need to open another Terminal because this one is busy with keeping open the LibreOffice. In the new Terminal write this.

Update: This may give this error when you trying next command:

If this happens you should use Python Interpreter that comes along LibreOffice. You can find it at:

(Update) The correct path for Mac OS (Thanks to Foad S Farimani):

Now we write these codes at the opened Python Shell.

These lines are common for every documents (Text, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Drawing).

Now let’s interact with the document.

Since we open LibreOffice with –calc the parameter, let’s try the spreadsheet commands.

If we open LibreOffice with the –writer parameter, we can also do the following operations.

Congratulations! Now you can control LibreOffice from outside with Python. I’m finishing this here. In my next article, I will talk about embedded macros. Goodbye 🙂

To see more advanced examples you can check this repository that I created for this blog series.

by kheimann » Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:39 pm

Re: How to use spreadsheet.Basic ledger style accounting

by RoryOF » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:02 pm

I doubt that spreadsheet accounts are the best way to go – there are commercial, databased, applications that do the job well. Whatever they cost (at lower end of market) they will be less than the true cost to you of developing an accounting system.

Re: How to use spreadsheet.Basic ledger style accounting

by jrkrideau » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:20 pm

There are also some open source accounting programs. I’ve never used them but I suspect they are a better option than trying to set up a spreadsheet-based accounting system.

Re: How to use spreadsheet.Basic ledger style accounting

by mbrouillet1 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:15 pm

I don’t know where to exactly post a « Santa wish » but it would be awesome in future releases to have an option « Debit – Credit » under the automatic sum of the selected cells . There is currently « Average / CountA / Count / Mximum / Mimimum / Sum / Select count / None » and a « Debit – Credit » would be great, especially when opening read-only files. Writeng the difference of the sums is trivial of course, but when you need that very often just to check for errors in many sheets, it gets time consuming (even more so en RO files).

This function would make the difference of the sum of the first column and the sum of the second column (assuming more than one column is selected). Alternatively, when using « Sum » on several columns, display in the status bar the series of sum of each column, in addition to the existing (overall) sum.

CPU Threads: 4; OS Version: Linux 4.4; UI Render: default; VCL: gtk2;
Locale: en-GB (en_US.UTF-8); Calc: group

Re: How to use spreadsheet.Basic ledger style accounting

by Villeroy » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: How to use spreadsheet.Basic ledger style accounting

by mbrouillet1 » Tue May 01, 2018 4:11 pm

It doesn’t have to know which is which. As long as it is consistent (col 1 – col 2, or vice-versa).
It sometimes happens that there is a mistake when balancing two columns. In the following example, item 2 does not balance out. This can obviously be hidden in hundreds of lines (I made it easy here). If you could start selecting cell and continue selecting down the two columns, with the suggested display at the bottom you would soon see where happens a disballance and focus on it easily. Of course, writing the formula to make an additional balance column on the right is not difficult per sé. You then look for the line where the value 1 comes back every few lines instead of zero. But it is much more time consuming, and does not allow a « one second check » in each table.

Code: Select all Expand viewCollapse view item 1a | 100 | |
item 1b | | 80 |
item 1c | | 20 |
item 2a | | 50 |
item 2b | 29 | |
item 2c | 20 | |
item 3a | 70 | |
item 3b | | 30 |
item 3c | | 40 |

CPU Threads: 4; OS Version: Linux 4.4; UI Render: default; VCL: gtk2;
Locale: en-GB (en_US.UTF-8); Calc: group

Re: How to use spreadsheet. Basic ledger style accounting

by RoryOF » Wed May 02, 2018 11:00 am

There are suggestions on setting up a simple ledger style accounting system at
(and others on the same site).

These are Excel oriented, but the general principles should apply to Calc.

Re: How to use spreadsheet. Basic ledger style accounting

by Alex1 » Wed May 02, 2018 11:03 pm

I do a lot with spreadsheets. And when I work in spreadsheets I work in OpenOffice. Most people know the ins and outs of spreadsheets, but many don’t realize just how powerful spreadsheets can be. Openoffice Calc holds a lot more bang for the users’ buck than you might think. For instance, did you know that Calc can do If/Else statements? In this spreadsheet tutorial you will learn how to use IF/ELSE statements in OpenOffice Calc.

Let’s say you have two columns of numbers and you want to add a third column based on the other two data. That third columns’ entry will depend upon the information in the first two. IF entry A is greater than B THEN C is X ELSE C is Y.

But how does one do this? It’s actually quite easy. Let’s start out with a more simple example and move on to a more complex example.

The first example will illustrate a basic IF/ELSE statement that uses only two columns of data. We’ll do a simple spreadsheet that deals with how many persons each employee will bring to a company picnic. To make things easy if the person enters “0” that means they are not bringing a guest (the employee, however, IS required to come) and if they enter “1” that means they are which means that employee equals two attendees. The first column will represent the name of the employee and the second column is how many guests the employee will bring. The formula to enter into the third column would look like:

What this will do is enter a “2” in the third cell is the employee is bringing a guest and a 1 if they are not.

Now let’s make this a bit more complex. For this example we’ll have three columns. The first column is a number that represents how many hours an employee worked. The second column will represent how many hours over 40 they worked. The third column will represent how much overtime pay they made. But let’s say you also have to account for zero hours worked. The formula for the second column would look like this:

For the third column let’s continue with this idea. Say if an employee worked over 5 hours of overtime they would gain an extra 100 dollar bonus in their check. So we’ll add a fourth column for bonuses. For simplicity’s sake all employees make $10.00 an hour. Overtime is standard time and a half pay. So the forumla for the third column would be a standard:

And the formula for the fourth column would be:

Now for the final total for employee salary a fifth column would be added that would look like:

Final Thoughts

The examples may be very simple but the idea can be applied to many instances. Using IF/ElSE statements in OpenOffice Calc can quickly take your spreadsheets to a much higher level of usability.

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