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December 11, 2003

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Creating a Simple Contact or Personal Information Manager with OpenOffice/StarOffice Calc

Calc is a free spreadsheet for GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, MAC, MS-Windows, Unix, and more

Mike Angelo -- 11 December 2003 (C) -- Page 2

  • Labeling the columns or data fields

Next place the mouse pointer at the top-left of the spreadsheet and click to open the first cell of the document for input. This should be cell A1. Please see Figure 2, below.

Please take a look at the bottom toolbar, the Formula Bar. Notice the letter-number combination in the input-selection box on the Formula Bar. It's right under the Font input-selection box on the Object Bar.

That letter-number combination is the currently selected cell or cell range. You can select a cell or range of cells by typing it into that cell input-selection box.

Now please type "OpenOffice Calc Demo Contact Manager" or whatever you would like to call your personal information manager into Cell A1. Then click on the center, text-alignment icon on the Object Bar. Next highlight the information manager title and click the down arrow on the Font Size box on the Object Bar. It's just to the right of the Font Selection box. Or, you can go to the Font Tab under the Format Menu as we did above. Then select 16-pt. type.

To finish your contact manager title for now, simply click the "B" button on the Object Bar or on Bold in the Typeface selection box in the Format Menu > Cell > Font Tab. You now should have the title of your contact manager centered at the top leftmost cell set in 16-pt., bold, Nimbus Sans L type.

Please notice that the entire OpenOffice Calc Demo Contact Manager title is only in the top-left cell, A1. However, it appears to flow into the next five cells, A1 through E1. Please see Figure 2, below.

It really does not. That's just a spreadsheet display illusion. Further on in this tutorial, we will merge the OpenOffice Calc Demo Contact Manager title into cells A1 through E1 so that it truly will be centered across the top of your contact manager. Please see Figure 3 on page 3.

You should periodically save your work in case your program or computer crashes or in case you make a mistake that you cannot back out of easily. That way you do not lose everything. This would be a good place to save what you have already accomplished.

You have a choice of file formats in which you can save your contact-manager spreadsheet. Instead of using the default OpenOffice Calc file format, sxc, let's use the MS-Excel file format, xls. The reason for using the MS-Excel file format is so that associates with whom you might share files and who use MS-Excel can read and work with your contact manager spreadsheet.

To do that, please click on File > Save As and then on the Save as type down arrow. Then please scroll to Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP (xls;xlw) and click it. Next please insert OpenOffice-Calc-Demo-Contact-Manager.xls into the File name input box and click Save.

When you execute a save command in the .xls format, Calc will prompt you to save in the Calc format instead. Just say NO and save it in the .xls format.

Now, let's add the heading for each column in your contact manager. To do that, please start by typing Name in cell A2. Then hit the TAB key to advance the insertion point to cell B2.

Let's make this a business contacts list. So, type Company into cell B2.

In similar fashion, let's add a Phone number, E-mail address, and date of Last Contact columns by typing those headings into cells C2, D2, and E2.

Please feel free to add any other columns you like for your contact-manager spreadsheet such as street address, city, state, country, fax number, miscellaneous comments, and so forth. If you are making a personal contact manager you might want to add columns for birth date, spouse's name, and so forth.

If you are new to spreadsheets, cell names such as A1 or B5 are made by taking the letter at the top of the spreadsheet designating the column such as A, B, C, and so forth and adding that to the row number at the left edge of the spreadsheet designating the row such as 1, 2, 3, and so forth. Thus cell C3 is the cell in column C and row 3.

  • Formatting the cells

Name, Company, Phone number, and E-mail address information is all simple text data. Thus, we can format the cells for this data as a group.

To do that, select columns A through D by placing the mouse pointer in the A column header and dragging it through headers B and C and then into header D. We do not want to change the formatting for Row 1, the document title row, however.

To NOT change the formatting for Row 1, concurrently depress the Ctrl key and double click the mouse pointer in Row 1. At this point, Columns A, B, C, and D all should be highlighted except for Row 1 in those columns. Please see Figure 2, below.

Figure 2. Selecting a range of cells in OpenOffice Calc used as a data-organization application. Please see text for an explanation.

Next click on Format > Cells > Numbers. Then click on Text in the Category list.

While we are in the Format Cells panel, let's do more formatting. Please click on the Font tab in the Format Cells panel. Then, using the down arrows if necessary to find each selection, let's set the Font to Nimbus Sans L, Typeface to regular, and Size to 12-pt.

Next, please move on to the Alignment tab. Here, set the Horizontal alignment to Left and the Vertical alignment to Middle. Then use the mouse clicker to set a check mark in Automatic line break. Line break is what the OpenOffice/StarOffice people call word-wrap.

Now, please move on to the Borders tab. In the Line Style box, please click on the 0.05 pt line to set the line thickness to 0.05-pt. Then click on the bottom, horizontal line in the Line Arrangement box to set horizontal line separators between each row of your contact manger.

Click OK in the Format Cells pane to close it.

  • See More cell formating on Page 3 ----->
  • <---- Back to Page 1

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