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Microsoft Office to OpenOffice Migration Guide
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involving tables

Tables are like one special paragraph so when selecting text using the keyboard (Shift+arrow) from, say, above the paragraph, the whole table is selected followed by the line below it.

The location for displaying the table grid when a table has no borders is not particularly intuitive: use Tools > Options > > Appearance and select the Table boundaries checkbox.

Heading rows

By default new tables have a heading row. This default behavior can be changed by Tools > Options > Writer > Table.

When creating a new table using Table > Insert Table, you can choose to turn on or off the heading row, by checking Heading in Options > Writer > Table

Whether the top row(s) repeat at the start of each new page can be altered by selecting the relevant top row(s) > Table > Repeat on each page. This does not change the format of the rows, only whether they repeat at each page break.

Adjusting column widths and row heights using the keyboard

The different methods of adjusting the column width available via Tools > Options > Writer > Table are:

  • Fixed: Overall width of the table stays the same, but the adjoining column shrinks or grows correspondingly.

  • Fixed Proportional: The current column and the end column change by corresponding amounts, keeping the overall width the same.

  • Variable: Only the current column changes so the overall width of the table changes.

Use Alt and the arrow keys as follows to adjust the width of columns (or height of rows):

  • Alt and arrow keys adjusts the right side (bottom for rows).

  • Alt+Shift and arrow keys adjusts the left side (top for rows).

  • Alt+Control+left or right arrow keys adjusts the current cell only.

Copying and pasting cells in a table

Writer never inserts new rows or columns when pasting data, it always overwrites the contents of the cells. This makes it clear as to what will happen. To avoid overwriting cells, first insert the required number of rows or columns.

Inserting and deleting rows or columns

If you use Table > Insert > Row or Table > Insert > Column or right-click > Insert Row or Insert Column, you can choose whether to insert before or after the current row or column.

The icons on the Table toolbar insert below for rows and to the right for columns (opposite of Word).


This is a surprising inconsistency as Calc inserts above and to the left.

In Linux, to insert rows or columns using the keyboard: Alt+Insert > arrow key (this is hold down Alt and Insert keys together, release the keys, then press the arrow key). To delete rows or columns using the keyboard: Alt+Delete > arrow key. The insertion or deletion is in the direction of the arrow key. For example, Alt+Insert > Up inserts a row above the current row.

Equal row heights and column widths

On the Table toolbar there is a long click button called Optimize. The Optimize button becomes active when more than one cell is selected. This presents a tear-off menu for easily adjusting row heights and column widths to being the same.

Splits and merges

Merge cells last, as you would in Word.

To merge cells: Select cells to be merged > Table > Merge cells (or use the Merge cells button on the Table toolbar).

To split cells: Select merged cells > Table > Split cells (or use the Split cells button on the Table toolbar).

To split a table (horizontally): Table > Split Table.

To join two tables, they need to be one below the other, then Table > Merge Table. If there is a table above and below the current table you will be prompted for which one you wish to join.


To sort a table:

  1. Select the cells to be sorted; do not include the headings. The option to sort only becomes available when something is selected.

  2. Tools > Sort.

Unlike Word, the sort dialog uses column number rather than the names of the column.

Entering numbers and formulas

Unlike Word, tables in Writer can work much more like spreadsheets. For example, calculated values change as the data is input (no more selecting and pressing F9 to update calculated results).

With number recognition turned on, when entering a number Writer will automatically format the number according to a specified number format. To change this behavior, right-click when the cursor is in a table and click on Number Recognition to deselect it.

To change the number format, select the cells, Table > Number Format.

To enter a formula like SUM():

  1. Select the cell where the result is to go.

  2. Press F2 to display the Formula bar.

  3. Click and hold the Formula button to display the formula menu.

  4. Select the desired function (list separator is for separating constants, for example =mean 5 | 12 | 20).

  5. Click and drag on cells to input ranges.

  6. Press Enter to finish.

To enter a formula like “this cell plus that cell minus that cell”:

  1. Select the cell where the result is to go.

  2. Press F2 to display the Formula bar.

  3. Click on a cell.

  4. Type or select the desired operator.

  5. Click on the next cell.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until done.

  7. Press Enter to finish.

Creating a table from a data source

To create a table from a data source:

  1. Display the Data source viewer (F4).

  2. In the Data explorer window, navigate to the desired table or query.

  3. Drag the name of the table or query into the document.

  4. Select the desired fields and set other properties as required in the dialog.

Microsoft Office to OpenOffice Migration Guide
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