Guide: LibreOffice Writer Part 5: Charts

In this fifth part of our LibreOffice Writer guide, we discuss how to insert and customize charts in a document. This follows our lengthy guide on tables.

In our previous guide, we discussed the surprisingly complex world of tables in LibreOffice Writer. While that is good at laying out raw numbers in a neat an organized fashion, what about just making a chart to better showcase various statistics? That is where charts come in handy.

Step 1: Plan and Insert a Chart

The first thing you need to consider is what kind of chart would you like to insert into your document? Is it a bar graph? A pie chart? A line graph? A stacked variation of that? What chart you intend on inserting will greatly impact the next few steps. Just know that Writer can produce a whole lot of different charts.

Next, we need to figure out where in the document we need to insert our chart. Above, I figure that in the space between the two paragraphs is fine.

Next, having thought about it, I decided to use a bar graph. Luckily, this is the first chart that comes up when inserting a chart.

All I need to do is click on the Insert Chart button on the tool bar.

what shows up is a chart that is already generated. You might be thinking at this point, “But I want to put my data.” That, of course, is where customization comes in.

Step 2: Customize Your Chart

In our example, we probably want to customize pretty much every data point here. This is actually very easy to do. With the chart selected (if it isn’t already), we want to look at our context sensitive toolbar near the top.

Next, we want to click on the Data Table button (as highlighted in the above screenshot). This will create a pop-up window.

Now, we can start modifying our table data. You’ll notice that the columns along the top correspond with the legend on the right hand side of the table. Additionally, the “Row”s correspond with the rows along the bottom of the table. You can manually type the information in. Much like the tables we’ve created in our previous guide, we can also start adding in our statistical information in the various cells in the table. As the example Writer offers highlights, we can even use decimal point data if we need to.

You’ll notice along the top of the screen that there are buttons that allow you to add or delete rows and columns. This is very similar to our customization of tables in our previous guide. We can add as many or as few data points as we like because we can customize our data table. For now, though, we are just going to stick with the existing table just for the sake of simplicity. Once we are done adding in our data points, we can click on the “OK” button. As you’ve probably already noticed, as data points are added, the table in the document automatically updates itself.

After we click on the OK button, your chart will be complete as far as the data and information is concerned.

Note: If at any time you deselect your chart and wish to continue modifying it, double click on the chart to continue editing in it.

Step 3: Making Your Chart Pretty

At this point in time, you might think to yourself that while the data is there, the colours really leave a lot to be desired. Luckily, customizing this is also pretty straight forward. First, let’s start with the background of the chart.

For modifying the chart background, we need to click on the “Chart Wall” button.

The first thing we see in the new pop-up window is the ability to change the border. When Write is talking about border in this instance, it is referring to the outside border within the chart (as highlighted). It won’t change the horizontal lines within, but this will change the subtle box on the outside. You can change the style and colour of this in this tab.

Of course, this changes a small part. What we’re thinking of is the background of the chart itself. So, for that, we need to click on the “Area” tab.

We can see a whole bunch of buttons here. We actually have a wide range of buttons to choose from. We can try a solid colour, gradient, or even a full fledged picture if we really want to. For the purposes of demonstration, I’m going to click on the “Gradient” button as highlighted in the above screenshot.

As you can see, we have a number of different settings we can play around with. We can choose the kind of gradient we want through the “Gradient” side of the window. If we are happy with our selection, there are a number of sliders, options, and even colour pickers we can use to further customize what we want. When you are done, just click on the “OK” button to apply the changes.

While this certainly helps make this look better, let’s continue customizing this graph by changing the colours of the bars itself. For that, we need to click on a bar that we want to modify.

You’ll notice that a small box will appear over the bars we have selected (as highlighted in the screen shot). Now that we have the bar we want selected, we need to click on the “Format Selection” button.

The window that pops up is very similar to the pop-up window we used for the background wall. So, this time, we are going to click on the “Area” tab (as highlighted). Next, we want to click on one of the buttons that we want to use. In this case, we are going to click on the “Color” button.

From there, I’m going to select the colour I want. Using the swatches, I’ve chosen “Dark Brick 3” because it is sort of brown and goes with the theme of chocolate milk. You’ll notice that a preview square is available for the new colour on the upper right hand corner of the screen. This should make it easier to determine if this is the right colour you want. Alternatively, you can utilize the RGB settings to tweak the colour or even use the full colour picker with the “Pick” button. If we are happy with the colour we chose, we then click on “OK”.

So, let’s say we want to customize the background next. For that, we can simply click on the “Chart Area” button (highlighted in the screen shot). This will open an all-too familiar editing window.

In this instance, I click on the “Area” tab. Next, I click on the “Bitmap” button just to be different. After that, I select the picture I want to choose (Paper Crumpled). If need to tweak the settings after, I can do that. When I am happy, I click on “OK”.

Hey, that’s actually not too bad!

On a final note, if you want to change the size of the chart, just click and drag any of the 8 black boxes and re-size the chart as you see fit. The information will automatically adjust to fit the shape of the new bounding box.

Step 4: Adding an Alternative Style Chart

Now, you might ask yourself, “what about all the other types of charts you mentioned earlier?”

Well, that can very easily be arranged.

First, let’s select an area we want to insert the chart.

Next, click on “Insert Chart”.

Now, click on “Chart Type”.

In the pop-up window, I’m going to select the chart type I want on the left hand panel (highlighted). I can specify which chart specific type I want. I can tick 3D if I really want to go super fancy, but for now, I’m just going to stick with the average look. Finally, I’m going to click on the “OK” button.

After modifying the information in the “Data Table” button (note, for a pie chart, you really only need two columns: one for the category titles and one for the numbers you intend on using). Feel free to play around with other chart types. Just messing around and getting certain results can help you learn a whole lot about how these charts work.

There are, obviously, other avenues to explore with these kinds of objects in Writer, but that should be enough to get you well on your way. Congratulations! You can now use charts in Writer!

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