OpenOffice Usage has an interview with Solveig Haugland, an and StarOffice instructor. Some good points on making the switch from MS-Office to OpenOffice:

— Get to know the print settings for spreadsheets. In the spreadsheet, choose Format/Page and get to know the settings in the Page and Sheet tabs. This combined with making sure the printer itself is set up correctly in your operating system settings will take care of virtually all spreadsheet printing issues.

— Don’t set up OpenOffice to automatically save in Microsoft Office format. This seems like a good idea when you still interact with people using Microsoft Office files. However, on some versions of the software, the print settings and formatting settings aren’t saved when the OpenOffice document is saved in MS without being saved first in OpenOffice format. So, avoid that setting (in the Tools/Options window). If users need to send a document to someone who’s using MS Office only, it’s simple to just save the document as a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file (File/Save As).

— Get to know the data source features. OpenOffice has exceptionally powerful abilities to connect to just about any data source: Access, Oracle, a simple spreadsheet, and anything in between.

— Get to know the features for creating and printing mail merge letters, envelopes, and so on. For example, use the Synchronize Contents check box in the Options tab of the labels setup window – you can then make any changes to one label in the resulting labels document and then make all other labels adopt those changes.

Here’s another example: Make sure you’ve got the right label type selected in the Labels tab of the setup window. For envelopes, just choose Insert/Envelope and fill in the setup window. The key thing is to make sure that your printer is set up to print the same size envelope as the envelope document you create.

Finally, to create a mail merge document like a letter to several customers in your data source, just choose File/Autopilot/Letter. Then to print, in versions prior to 1.1, just choose File/Form Letter. (In 1.1, it’s just File/Print.)

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.