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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 3

  • More cell formating

Then click on the Column E header to select Column E, the Last Contact column. Next, use the ctrl-click trick to remove cells E1 and E2 from the selection.

Then, with the mouse-pointer in the Column E selection area, alternate-click (right-click) the mouse pointer.

That makes a context menu pop up. Now please click Format Cells > Numbers > Date > 99-12-31 to format the selected portion of Column E to keep dates in the YY-MM-DD format (Year-Month-Date) -- or whatever date format you prefer. (In some applications you need to use the Year-Month-Date format if you want to sort by date.)

Now set the rest of the cell formatting for the date-column cells using the same procedure as you did before. The font settings will be Nimbus San L, Regular, 12-pt. The alignment settings will be Horizontal Center, Vertical Middle, and NO Automatic line break. Next, set the border line-thickness to 0.05 pt. and add a horizontal bottom line. Then click OK.

Now, let's format Cell E2, the Last Contact column label. However, we want all the cells in that entire column-label row, Row 2, to have the same formatting. So, let's select the entire Row 2 by clicking on the 2 in the row headers column.

Using the same Format Cells panel procedures we used above, let's set the Font tab settings to: Font to Nimbus Sans L, Typeface to Bold, and Size to 14-pt. That will give the column (data field) labels some prominence over the data.

The alignment settings will be Horizontal Center, Vertical Middle, and NO Automatic line break. Next, set the border line-thickness to 2.60 pt. double line and add a bottom line. Then click OK.

Let's finish this stage of formatting our contact-manager spreadsheet by setting the cell widths. First, click on the Column A header to select the entire Column A. Then, with the mouse pointer still in the Column A header, alternate-click (right-click) the mouse pointer.

Now, please click on Column Width. Let's set Column A to a 1.5" width. To do that, simply change the width appearing in the Width input box to 1.5 and un-check Default value.

Following that same procedure, select the Column B header to set the Column B width at 2" also. While we are at it, let's set Column D, the e-mail address column, to 1.5".

Let's fit Column C to an exact width set to accommodate a standard eleven-digit phone number such as 1-800-555-1212. To do that, first type 1-800-555-1212 into the first phone-number data-cell, C3.

Then, place the mouse pointer on the vertical line separating the Column C and Column D headers. The mouse pointer should change to a double-pointed horizontal arrow.

Now depress the mouse button and with the mouse button depressed, drag the mouse pointer to the right until the column is wide enough to accommodate the entire phone number.

Moving right along to setting the width for Column E, let's insert an actual date in Cell D3. However, here let's use the automatic width feature.

Place the mouse pointer on the vertical line separating the Column E and Column F headers. The mouse pointer should change to a double-pointed horizontal arrow. Now, double-click the mouse. Calc automatically sets the Column E width to that of the widest entry in Column E, instantly Last Contact.

By now, Row 2 should look much more like Row 2 in Figure 3 than Row 2 in Figure 2. This would be a good place to save your work so far.

Figure 3. OpenOffice Calc used as a data-organization application. Please see text for an explanation.

  • Tweaking the document title

To finish formatting the contact manager spreadsheet, let's center the document title across the five columns. In order to do that, we have to merge cells A1 through E1.

To do that, let's select those cells by typing A1:E1 into the cell selection input box on the Formula Bar and hitting Enter. Then click on Format > Merge Cells > Define.

Bang! The title jumps right into the center. That's because we already centered the title at the beginning of this tutorial.

Now let's add a double line under the title. With the A1:E1 range of cells still selected in the cell selection input box, Click on Format > Cells > Borders. Then please set the bottom line to a 2.60-pt. double line as we did for Row 2, above.

That finishes the Contact Manager formatting. Rows 1 and 2 now should look very much like Rows 1 and 2 in Figure 3.

This would be a good place to save your work. By the way, if you would like to use this contact manager setup for different lists of contacts, you also can save it now as a template. Template is one of the Save as type choices in the Save As panel.

  • Adding data to your contact manager

Are you ready to add some names and information to your contact manager?

First, let's add Doe, John as our first entry. We are using the last name - first name format so that we can sort the list by last name if we like. So, please type Doe, John into Cell A3.

Next let's add Lumber Company in Cell B3, 1-800-555-1212 in Cell C3, John@nospam in Cell D3, and 27nov03 in Cell E3.

But wait, you typed 27nov03 in Cell E3 and it gets changed to 03-11-27. This shows the power of formatting data types for cells. Calc automatically can convert most any recognizable date into the specific format you specify.

Remember when you formatted the cells above you did Format Cells > Numbers > Date > 99-12-31 to format the selected portion of Column E to keep dates in the YY-MM-DD format (Year-Month-Date). Thus Calc automatically changed your Cell E3 input, 27nov03, to the YY-MM-DD, 03-11-27, format you selected earlier. That's pretty darn slick.

For our contact manager demo we will add two more people, Foo, Jane and Fud, Joe. However, you might want to use some of your own contacts to finish the tutorial instead of Jane Foo and Joe Fud.

If you want to continue following along with our demo, the data for Jane Foo is Water Company, 1-800-555-1213, jfoo@nospam, and 12/02/2003. Joe Fud's contact information is Computer Store, 1-800-555-1214, Fud@nospam, and 10/17/2003.

  • Finished

That should do it. Nice work.

<---- Back to Page 2

Resources


Article Index
There is a #OpenOffice channel on the EFNet IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network. If you want to discuss OpenOffice or Calc with other OpenOffice users, need some help with OpenOffice, or want to help others better use OpenOffice, hang out there. Simply connect your IRC client to an EFNet IRC server and /join #OpenOffice.


To let the OpenOffice.org people know how you think they can make OpenOffice even better, Louis Suarez-Potts asks that you let them know at usersATopenoffice.org. (Substitute @ for AT)


Sun's Comparison of OpenOffice 1.1 and StarOffice 6.1

Comparison of ways to do things using Microsoft Word and OooWriter (By Jean Hollis Weber)


KDE


OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org CDs

OpenOffice.org Downloads

OpenOffice.org Spport Information


StarOffice 7 Office Suite


SUSE Linux Professional 9.0

Mandrake Linux 9.2


Books


The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, Martin Fink, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-047677-3. $27


OpenOffice.org 1.0 Resource Kit, Solveig Haughland and Floyd Jones, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-140745-7. $40

Special Edition Using StarOffice 6.0, Michael Koch, Que. ISBN: 0789728338. $36

StarOffice 6.0 Office Suite Companion, Solveig Haughland and Floyd Jones, Prentice Hall, ISBN: 0-13-038473-9. $40

Taming OpenOffice.org Writer 1.1, Jean Hollis Weber, ISBN 0957841981. PDF Download $10. Printed $25


Using Microsoft Office 2003 (Special Edition), Bott and Leonhard, Que, ISBN: 0-7897-29955-5. $40


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