< Previous lesson | Overview | Next lesson >

Formatting of text and cells

How to change the appearance of the spreadsheet easily

It is quite easy to make big changes of the visual appearance of a spreadsheet in Calc, and I will show you a few of the ways you can do just that.

First of all we’ll start making simple changes to the font.

Copy this text from here and paste it into cell A1 (or simply type it yourself!): This is a test of formatting in Calc

No matter which font you have no, click on cell A1. Then go to the font menu, and select the font "Times", like shown here:

If it looks a bit different on your screen, don’t worry, we’re probably just using different versions of the same software, either different version numbers or different operating systems, but it should still be fairly the same buttons and menus :-)

Now, go to the bold-button and click it, as shown here:

OK, we also want to change the formatting of the word "formatting", so go to the formulabar and doubleclick the word formatting and click the underscore-button, like this:

Hit [Enter].

As you can see, the cell is much too narrow to accommodate all the text, so Calc simply lets the text span across several cells. Sometimes this may be OK, but other times this is something we would like to avoid, for instance if there is text in cell A2 that we don’t want to clip off the text in A1.

If you let the cursor hover over the line between column A and column B, you will see that it changes. If you now click and hold, you can adjust he width of column A. But we will do it even more elegantly now -- while the cursor changes, just double click!

What Calc just did, was to automatically adjust the column width just enough to make room for all the text, neither more nor less.

Now we will highlite cell A1 and add a border to it and change the colour of the text, all from (almost) the same place. Right click on cell A1, and select Format cells...

Click on the tab named "Borders".

Do not change anything under "Line arrangement" for now, but go to where it says "Line" and select the style called "0,50 pt". Now you can go to "Line arrangement" and click on the bottom and right ends of the square, as shown here:

Now click the tab called "Background" and choose the strong yellow one, like here:

Now go to the tab called "Font Effects". Go to the drop down menu below "Font color", and select red.

Hit [OK], and see the fantastic end result :-)

And now for the important part; create a new sheet, and experiment as much as you can! A general rule of thumb is to apply as little formatting as possible, because it is very easy to go overboard. Here are some good guidelines:
  • use bold for headlines and important stuff
  • use two or three different font sizes at most
  • try to avoid using different fonts
  • the colouring used above are for warnings or other strong messages, not common text!
  • try, test and ask what others think

Please be gentle on all the nice spreadsheets you have already created, so they don’t look like something bad happened in the paint shop, since very often "less is more" is actually the case :-)