Guide: LibreOffice Calc Part 3: Adding Visual Appeal

In this third part of our guide, we explore how to add some visual appeal to our spreadsheet. This includes adding borders and backgrounds to cells.

when we left off with our previous guide, we shed you how to add some basic content to a spreadsheet. This is certainly all well and good, but what about adding in some visual flare? That’s what this guide is all about.

Adjusting the Fonts

For those who are already familiar with Writer, a lot of this will sound very familiar. If we want to change the font, we can use a number of basic buttons on the top of the screen.

If we want to adjust a single cell. We can just select the cell in question. After that, we can, for instance, click on the Bold button (or use “CTRL+B” for a speed key). This will make the text of that cell bold face. While this is all well and good, it may be inefficient to adjust the font of each cell one at a time.

Alternatively, we can just click and drag across multiple cells. With everything we want selected, we can click on the Bold button and boldface them all at the same time. One question some might have, though, is how do you highlight other cells without deselecting the current selection? that is actually very easy to do as well.

First, we can click and drag across our first set of cells to highlight the first selection. Next, we are going to look down at our keyboard and hold down the “CTRL” button. Next, we are going to click and drag over the next selection. Let go of CTRL when you are done selecting and you’ll have multiple cells in different locations selected. Finally, just hit that Bold button to bold face everything highlighted.

Merging Cells

Now, while we are certainly starting to go somewhere with our current table, it would be nice to add a great looking title to it. Whether it’s to add titles or another purpose entirely, what we can do is merge a few cells. This is actually an easy process. First, let’s highlight the cells we want to merge.

Next, we are going to right click on any cell within that selection and click on “Merge Cells”. This will make one giant cell out of the selection you made. Next, we can add a nice title at the top of our spreadsheet by just typing in what we want.

Adjusting Text Alignment and Adjusting Cell Width and Height

Now, a title isn’t much of a title unless it’s centred, right? To centre some text, we want to click on the “Align Center” button (as highlighted in the screenshot). Also, we can make that text bold. Now, the next problem is that it’s not a very big title. What will no doubt help is to add a little bit of height.

We can adjust the width of any column or height of any row very easily. In this case, we want to increase the height of the first row. Simply move your mouse over the line that separates the “1” and “2” on the left hand side of the spreadsheet. When it turns to an up and down arrow, click and drag it down. A guide line will appear (also as highlighted in the screen shot). Move the guide down to wherever you like. Release the mouse button when you are happy with the height and the spreadsheet will accommodate the new height.

The next problem you might notice is that the text sticks to the bottom of the cell. This can easily be adjusted.

Just click on the cell you want to adjust and click on the “Center Vertically” button. This will move the text to the centre of the cell. You can also use the other buttons to push the text to the top if you like, but for now, I’m going to stick with the Centre.

Now, I’m going to adjust the size of the font. This, of course, is very easy. Just click on the font size box (as highlighted in the screenshot). You can either type in your new font size or pick one from the drop down menu.

Also note that the font type is just to the left of the font size. You can also adjust the actual font of the text while you are at it if you like. For me, I’m just going to stick with default.

Now, you might have noticed from a screenshot or two earlier that one of my titles is now cut off. This happened about the time I added a bold font to the text. When I did that, I also increased the length of the titles. Every other title is fine, but French Toast now shows a dark red arrow. This indicates that there is text that has run off of the cell. In this case, Calc couldn’t fit the last “t” of toast onto the cell. Again, all we need to to is adjust the width of that column to help Calc fit that last “t” in. Definitely keep an eye out for such things if you are showing charts with a lot of text in it.

Wrapping Text

What would be nice is a little description on how these numbers came to be. First, I’m going to select some cells and merge them vertically to the right of the table. Next, I’m going to type in the information I want. Unfortunately, when I hit enter, the text just goes to the bottom and runs off to the side of the cell. A feature in Calc will actually make it more visually presentable.

First, I want to make sure the cell in question is selected. Next, I’m going to click on “Format”. After that, I want to hover my mouse cursor over “Text”. After that, I’m going go click on “Wrap Text”. This feature will wrap the text within the cell so it doesn’t just run off to the right hand side.

After that, I just increase the width of the column in question and now I have a nice neat little text box beside my data table.

Changing the Font Colour

Changing the font colour is almost as easy as making the text bold or adjusting the alignment.

Simply select the cell you want to change the font colour on. Then click on the font colour drop down menu (highlighted in screenshot) and choose the colour you want from any of the swatches available. I happen to choose blue. If the colour you want isn’t in there, you can always open up the colour picker through the “Custom Color” button at the bottom of the drop down menu.

Creating Borders

So now, we are going to detour into a slightly more artful side of Calc. First, we want to add special borders on our cells. Calc offers a flexible solution to perform this task. Let’s say we want a border to be wrapped around a row of cells (not the whole row, just some of the cells). First, we highlight the cells we want to adjust.

Next, we are going to click on the border button. Then, while holding down shift, we are going to select the outside border. This will draw a border all the way around the selected cells.

Next, we want to define the border style. So, we click on the “Border Style” button and click on one that we want. In my case, I selected the solid line. Now, when you deselect it the cells, you should have a solid black border all the way around.

Changing the Background Colours

Finally, we can change the cells background colours. This is also very straight forward.

Just click on the cell you want to change, then click on the “Background Color” drop down menu. Then, click on the colour you want (just like the font colours). For me, I picked yellow because I had a dark font colour.

Now that you know all of this, you can completely customize the look of your data table.

Congratulations! You now know how to add some basic visual appeal to your spreadsheets!

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