Chapter 3. The Office Suite


3.1. Understanding
3.2. Word Processing with Writer
3.3. Using Spreadsheets with Calc
3.4. Using Presentations with Impress
3.5. Using Databases with Base
3.6. Creating Graphics with Draw
3.7. Creating Mathematical Formulas with Math
3.8. Finding Help and Information About is a powerful open-source office suite that provides tools for all types of office tasks, such as writing texts, working with spreadsheets, or creating graphics and presentations. With, you can use the same data across different computing platforms. You can also open and edit files in other formats, including Microsoft Office, then save them back to this format, if needed. This chapter covers information about the Novell® edition of and some of the key features you should be aware of when getting started with the suite. consists of several application modules (subprograms), which are designed to interact with each other. They are listed in Table 3.1, “The Application Modules”. A full description of each module is available in the online help, described in Section 3.8, “Finding Help and Information About”.

Table 3.1. The Application Modules




Word processor application module


Spreadsheet application module


Presentation application module


Database application module


Application module for drawing vector graphics


Application module for generating mathematical formulas

The appearance of the application varies depending on the desktop or window manager you use. Regardless of the appearance, the basic layout and functions are the same.

3.1. Understanding

This section contains information that applies to all of the application modules in Module-specific information can be found in the sections relating to each module.

3.1.1. Using the Standard Edition of

You can use the standard edition of rather than the Novell edition. If you install the latest version of, all of your Novell Edition files remain compatible. However, the standard edition does not contain enhancements made in the Novell edition.

3.1.2. Compatibility with Other Office Applications can work with documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases in many other formats, including Microsoft Office. They can be seamlessly opened like other files and saved back to the original format. Because the Microsoft formats are proprietary and the specifications are not available to other applications, there are occasionally formatting issues. If you have problems with your documents, consider opening them in the original application and resaving in an open format such as RTF for text documents or CSV for spreadsheets.


For good information about migrating from other office suites to, refer to the Migration Guide. Converting Documents to the Format can read, edit, and save documents in a number of formats. It is not necessary to convert files from those formats to the format to use those files. However, if you want to convert the files, you can do so. To convert a number of documents, such as when first switching to, do the following:

  1. Select File+Wizard+Document Converter.

  2. Choose the file format from which to convert.

    There are several StarOffice and Microsoft Office formats available.

  3. Click Next.

  4. Specify where should look for templates and documents to convert and in which directory the converted files should be placed.


    Documents from a Windows partition are usually in a subdirectory of /windows.

  5. Make sure that all other settings are appropriate, then click Next.

  6. Review the summary of the actions to perform, then start the conversion by clicking Convert.

    The amount of time needed for the conversion depends on the number of files and their complexity. For most documents, conversion does not take very long. Sharing Files with Users of Other Office Suites is available for a number of operating systems. This makes it an excellent tool when a group of users frequently need to share files and do not use the same system on their computers.

When sharing documents with others, you have several options.

If the recipient needs to be able to edit the file: Save the document in the format the other user needs. For example, to save as a Microsoft Word file, click File+Save As, then select the Microsoft Word file type for the version of Word the other user needs.

If the recipient only needs to read the document: Export the document to a PDF file with File+Export as PDF. PDF files can be read on any platform using a viewer like Adobe Acrobat Reader.

If you want to share a document for editing: Use one of the standard document formats. The default formats comply with the OASIS standard XML format, making them compatible with a number of applications. TXT and RTF formats, although limited in formatting, might be a good option for text documents. CSV is useful for spreadsheets. might also offer your recipient's preferred format, especially Microsoft formats.

If you want to e-mail a document as a PDF: Click File+Send+Document as PDF Attachment.Your default e-mail program opens with the file attached.

If you want to e-mail a document to a Microsoft Word user: Click File+Send+Document as MS-Doc Attachment. Your default e-mail program opens with the file attached.

3.1.3. Starting

  1. Start the application in one of the following ways:

    • On the menu bar, click Word Processor icon.

      This opens Writer. To open a different module, click File+New from the newly opened Writer document, then choose the module you want to open.

    • From the Computer menu, click Computer+More Applications+Office, then click the name of the module you want to start.

    • In a terminal window, enter ooffice. The window opens. Click File+New, then choose the module you want to open.

  2. Select the module you want to open.

If any application is open, you can open any of the other applications by clicking File+New+Name of Application.

3.1.4. Improving Load Time

To speed up the load time of by preloading the application at system startup:

  1. Click Tools+Options+Memory.

  2. Select Start at Startup.

The next time you restart your system, will preload. When you open an application module, it will open faster.

3.1.5. Customizing

You can customize to best suit your needs and working style. Toolbars, menus, and keyboard shortcuts can all be reconfigured to help you more quickly access the features you use the most. You can also assign macros to application events if you want specific actions to occur when those events take place. For example, if you always work with a specific spreadsheet, you can create a macro that opens the spreadsheet and assign it to the Start Application event.

This section contains simple, generic instructions for customizing your environment. The changes you make are effective immediately, so you can see if the changes are what you wanted and go back and modify them if they weren’t. See the help files for detailed instructions. Customizing Toolbars

Use the Customize dialog to modify toolbars.

  1. Click the arrow icon at the end of any toolbar.

  2. Click Customize Toolbar.

  3. Select the toolbar you want to customize.

  4. Select the check boxes next to the commands you want to appear on the toolbar, and deselect the check boxes next to the commands you don’t want to appear.

  5. Select whether to save your customized toolbar in the module you are using or in the document.

    • module

      The customized toolbar is used whenever you open that module.

    • Document filename

      The customized toolbar is used whenever you open that document.

  6. Repeat to customize additional toolbars.

  7. Click OK.

You can quickly choose the buttons that appear on a particular toolbar.

  1. Click the arrow icon at the end of the toolbar you want to change.

  2. Click Visible Buttons to display a list of buttons.

  3. Select the buttons in the list that appears to enable (check) or disable (uncheck) them. Customizing Menus

You can add or delete items from current menus, reorganize menus, and even create new menus.

  1. Click Tools+Customize+Menu.

  2. Select the menu you want to change, or click New to create a new menu.

    Click Help for more information about the options in the Customize dialog.

  3. Modify, add, or delete menu items as desired.

  4. Click OK. Customizing Keyboard Shortcuts

You can reassign currently assigned keyboard shortcuts and assign new shortcuts to frequently used functions.

  1. Click Tools+Customize+Keyboard.

  2. Select the keys you want to assign to a function, or select the function and assign the keys or key combinations.

    Click Help for more information about the options in the Customize dialog.

  3. Modify, add, or delete keyboard shortcuts as desired.

  4. Click OK. Customizing Events also provides ways to assign macros to events such as application startup or the saving of a document. The assigned macro runs automatically whenever the selected event occurs.

  1. Click Tools+Customize+Events.

  2. Select the event you want to change.

    Click Help for more information about the options in the Customize dialog box.

  3. Assign or remove macros for the selected event.

  4. Click OK. Changing the Global Settings

Global settings can be changed in any application by clicking Tools+Options on the menu bar. This opens the window shown in the figure below. A tree structure is used to display categories of settings.

Figure 3.1. The Options Window

The Options Window

The following table lists the settings categories along with a brief description of each category:

Table 3.2. Global Setting Categories

Settings Category


Various basic settings, including your user data (such as your address and e-mail), important paths, and settings for printers and external programs.


Includes the settings related to the opening and saving of several file types. There is a dialog for general settings and several special dialogs to define how external formats should be handled.

Language Settings

Covers the various settings related to languages and writing aids, such as your locale and spell checker settings. This is also the place to enable support for Asian languages.


Includes the dialogs to configure any proxies and to change settings related to search engines.

Text Document

Configures the global word processing options, such as the basic fonts and layout that Writer should use.

HTML Document

Changes the settings related to the HTML authoring features of


Changes the settings for Calc, such as those related to sort lists and grids.


Changes the settings that should apply to all presentations. For example, you can specify the measurement unit for the grid used to arrange elements.


Includes the settings related to the vector drawing module, such as the drawing scale, grid properties, and some print options.


Provides a single dialog to set special print options for formulas.


Defines the default colors used for newly created charts.

Data Sources

Defines how external data sources should be accessed.


All settings listed in the table are applied globally. They are used as defaults for every new document you create.

3.1.6. Finding Templates

Templates greatly enhance the use of by simplifying formatting tasks for a variety of different types of documents. comes with a few templates, and you can find additional templates on the Internet. You can also create your own. Creating templates is beyond the scope of this guide, but detailed instructions are found in the help system and in other documents and tutorials available online.

In addition to templates, you can find other extras and add-ins online. The following table lists a few of the prominent places where you can find templates and other extras. (Because Web sites often close or their content changes, the information in the following table might not be current when you read it.)

Table 3.3. Where to Find Templates and Extras


What You Can Find documentation Web site

Templates for Calc spreadsheets, CD cases, seed packets, fax cover sheets, and more

Templates for many types of labels

For more information about templates, see Section 3.2.4, “Using Templates to Format Documents” and Section 3.3.2, “Using Templates in Calc”.