Working with Spreadsheets in Calc

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Screenshot of first spreadsheet application, Visicalc, running on an Apple II computer

In this tutorial you will learn how to develop, work with and manipulate spreadsheets using the computer application Calc, one of five applications available in 3. Calc is similar to Microsoft Excel and you can save your Calc spreadsheets in Excel for sending to Microsoft users, if needed.

But, what is a spreadsheet, you ask? A spreadsheet is a table of rows and columns, creating a grid of cells. Each cell can contain a piece of information, for example:

  • a number
  • a formula
  • text

In most situations, spreadsheets are used for manipulating numeric data. The spreadsheet computer application is designed to enable you to model and observe the relationships among the data contained in the rows and columns. Spreadsheets can be useful in a variety of contexts, e.g., as a calculator, to analyse business data, to track personal finances, or to create charts for visual interpretation of data.

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Before beginning this module, we recommend that a learner be
  • skilled in arithmetic computation: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, computation with decimal numbers, computation of percents.
  • skilled at estimating the results of simple calculations, so when entering formula the results can be mentally checked.
  • a logical thinker, that is, capable of following a series of calculations from one step to the next.
  • somewhat experienced in using computer applications, for example a word processor such as Write.

Study Tips

If this is your first time using a spreadsheet, you may find it useful to skim through an entire block of content first, paying special attention to the headings and introductions, then go through a second time for more in-depth study and practice.

If you have some experience using a spreadsheet, you may want to skim over the full content first to identify topics in which you need in-depth study and practice. You will want to review topics with which you are already familiar to learn specific functionality that may be new to you.

To gain the full benefit of the tutorial, we recommend that you do the activities as they appear. They are essential study materials, offering practice in particular skills that will build your proficiency in using spreadsheets.

To deepen your understanding of the operations you are learning as you progress through the tutorial, keep linking the new content that you are studying with content that you have already covered and with your own general knowledge.

If you have difficulty understanding any area, try working at it slowly. If you still do not understand, seek help.

In creating this presentation we have used the following conventions:

  • Commands to be performed are written in bold; a series of commands are linked with the symbol, >.
  • A "Follow Along" activity is designed for you to perform the instructions in the Calc application open on your desktop as you work through the content.
  • When we use the terms "select" or "click" followed by a command, you should click on the left side of the mouse. We will specify "right-click" when it is needed.

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Upon completion of this tutorial a learner will be able to...
  • Develop, format, modify and use a spreadsheet
  • Generate and apply standard formulae
  • Create and format graphs/charts



Aspects of the content materials were adapted from the following:

Commonwealth Computer Navigator's Certificate. Module 4: Spreadsheets using OpenOffice 2.0, authored by Olabisi Kuboni, UWI Distance Educatiion Centre.

Home and Learn. Free Computer Tutorials - Microsoft Excel Tutorials [1] accessed 2007-12-09.

OpenICDL. ICDL Module 4, Spreadsheets using Calc [2]

OpenLearn Learning Space. Working with charts, graphs and tables [3] accessed 2007-12-15. Documentation Project. Getting Stared with 3 [4] accessed 2009-05-22. Lessons for Calc [5]

Tutorials for OpenOffice. Calc (Spreadsheet) Tutorials [6] accessed 2009-04-02.

About this Module

See The Learning Design Project
for more information.

Learning-design.png Learning Design for OpenOffice/Calc 3

Learning Design In Progress
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Content Design In Progress
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