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OpenOffice.org Tips and Tricks: Harmonizing With MS Office, Managing Large Complex Documents

Making OOo Documents MS Office-Friendly

  • September 22, 2008
  • By Eric Geier

We’ve covered many tips and tricks about working between OpenOffice.org (OOo) and Microsoft (MS) Office, however now we’ll address the formatting issues experienced when converting between the two formats. We’ll give you a few ways to make your documents convert better, so you can share your work with those who only use MS Office. You’ll also discover the Navigator in this tutorial. This window in OOo can help you jump from here to there in your document and gives you a quick way to modify the structure. Lets get started!

Converting OOo Documents to Microsoft

When converting between the OOo and MS Office formats, you shouldn’t see any majors problems with basic formatting and features. Bolding, fonts, most custom styles and tabs, hyperlinks, bulleted and numbered lists, tables, and columns, for example, should stay intact through the conversion process. However, the conversion of some items, such as headers, footers, and mail merges, are less than desirable. Headers and footers disappear and mail merges lose their database connections during the conversion.

If you’ve already converted documents to MS Office format and are disappointed in the results, don’t throw in the towel yet. There are a few things you can do within your OOo documents that makes for a better conversion. Consider these tips before giving up on OOo:

  • Think about exporting to PDF: If you are sending a document to someone that’s OOo-less, but they just need to read or print it, you can simply export to PDF and forget all the formatting issues. Your documents should export to PDF with no problems and look just as you designed them. Simply click File, Export to PDF, and adjust the settings to your liking.

  • Change anchoring of objects: If objects such as images, graphs, and frames are left with using the default anchor setting, to paragraph, they can’t be moved in the resulting MS Office document. You can however anchor these items as characters, which will let you move them around within the document. Right-click on the object, select Anchor – As Characters.

  • Edit objects before exporting: Before exporting to the MS Office counterpart, you should finalize any text and formatting of objects such as graphs, images, frames, and shapes. These items will become static images in the MS Office format. Thus, you won’t be able to edit any text in frames, change color of shapes, change graph settings, and so on.

  • Use frames to make headers/footers: Though content in the official headers and footers disappear when converting to MS Office format, you can make your own. One way is to insert frames over the same space of the header or footer and type in your desired text and content. You won’t though have the convenience of the real thing; you’ll need to copy and paste it on all the pages.

  • Keep OOo up-to-date: It’s not a secret that the OOo to MS Office conversion utilities need improvement. Thus, you might see better results in OOo updates in the near future or better third-party converters that may arise. Keep your fingers crossed.

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