OpenOffice workarounds for Calc, Writer

In this tip, an expert demonstrates how to convert Writer documents to Word, suggests some open source alternatives to Microsoft products and explains a Calc workaround for editing spreadsheet headers.

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To open OpenOffice Writer attachments with Microsoft Word, you need to convert the document to Word first. In this tip, OpenOffice instructor Solveig Haugland shows you how, along with suggesting open source alternative to Microsoft products and workarounds for headers in Calc.

More on OpenOffice 2.0:
Combining OpenOffice.org text documents using master files

Using the data pilot: OpenOffice.org Calc's answer to pivot tables

What are some ways to create individual headers for OpenOffice Calc spreadsheets?

Solveig Haugland: There are some possibilities to work with; all of them might not work depending on your spreadsheet.

  • You can base the header for the document on the sheet name. This is the default. Right-click on the sheet name, choose Rename and the spreadsheet will reflect the current sheet name on every page.

    If the sheet name isn't in the header, choose Format > Page, click the Header tab, click Edit, click in the area where you want the sheet name to show up, then click the Sheet Name icon.

  • You can bypass the Header and Footer tabs and specify that some of the rows or columns in the spreadsheet it self should be repeated at the top of each page.
    1. Choose Format > Print Ranges > Edit.
    2. Click in the Rows to Repeat (or Columns to Repeat field for columns).
    3. Just use your mouse to select the rows to repeat.
    4. Repeat with the other field if you want both columns and rows to repeat.
    5. Click OK.

    You might use IF or other functions to make the contents of the rows you choose to repeat vary for each page. This, of course, would depend a lot on your data and what you want to print on each page.

    How can Writer attachments be opened by someone using Word?

    Haugland: If you're using Writer and emailing a person who uses Word, he or she won't be able to read the Writer document. You need to convert the document to Word first. You can do this in at least two ways:

    • Choosing File > Save As, selecting Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP, saving and then attaching that document to the email
    • Choose File > Send > Document as Word.

    Then, your default email program will start, a new email document will be created and the current Writer document, in Word format, will be attached to that new email document. This is a very slick approach. Set your default email program in the control panel of your operating system.

    There should be no problem with Outlook and Writer attachments.

    What are some problems that users may encounter with Microsoft Publisher vs. OpenOffice Writer?

    Haugland: Writer can open nearly anything but, unfortunately, Publisher is stubborn. Documents created in Microsoft Publisher can't be opened in any other program. That's a real drawback to the Publisher file format.

    What OpenOffice applications can be used to substitute for Microsoft Access?

    Haugland: To replace Access, you can use OpenOffice.org Base. I would suggest doing a test run, first with the most complex databases. Base doesn't have much in the way of calculations within the database, though it does have some reasonable query and reporting features. You can find ways of bringing data into Base here.

    What are some alternatives to replacing Microsoft Project?

    Haugland: There are several alternatives to Project, including Planner. You can see a list of applications here.

    Another option to consider is a Web-based application like BaseCamp. It's extremely popular and I've found it easy to use.

  • This was first published in November 2006

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