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The Text to Table Feature in OpenOffice Writer

Posted By Kevin On January 24, 2011 @ 10:18 AM In OpenOffice | No Comments

OpenOffice.org Writer: Oh Man, I Should Have Used a Table!

While I cannot speak for everyone, I know that there have been many times that, after setting up information in a word processing document, I find myself wishing I had used a table instead of a list of text.

If the list is long and complicated or really more of a data type of information, a table might have been the way to go, when it comes to presentation.

Oh well, too late… I’m done with the list and not redoing the work… or maybe not.

OK, so I don’t mean that redoing the work is a good option, I’m say that maybe it’s not too late to present the information in a table without a lot of cut / paste work or starting over.

Here’s the deal:

If you have a list in OpenOffice.org Writer that should have been in a table, we’ll put it in one using Text to Table feature.

We tell Writer which information to use and let it know what character to use as a column indicator, and it does all the hard work while we sit back and watch.

Admittedly, there’s some formatting work to be done, since I got a table that went from left to right margins. I find it to be a decent trade-off… a bit of formatting on a table is nothing compared to the hassle of setting one up and then moving all the information into it.

Now that we have a sense of what we’ll be doing today, it’s time to move on to the “how to” part.

You’ll begin by highlighting all of the text that should go into the table.

With the text still selected, you’re off to the Table menu, Convert sub-menu, Text to Table choice.

The Convert Text to Table dialog box will open looking like this:

The top section is where you tell Writer how to know where to separate the information into columns.

As you can see it has 3 preset choices (Tabs, Paragraphs & Semicolons) and a fourth choice labeled as “Other“.

If your pieces of data are separated by any of the first three, you can choose it. However, if you’re like me, there’s a good chance that they are separated by a space.

By default my “Other” field had a comma in it. What you see above is the result of me replacing the comma with a space.

At the bottom you’ll find a couple of options… such as table borders and headings.

-Use the headings options if your column titles are a part of the highlighted data.

-The AutoFormat button can be used to apply preset formatting to your table.

When you’ve set everything as you want it, click the OK button.


Your text list is now in a table – you’re ready to format it and move on :)

~ April

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