Exporting the results of an OpenOffice spreadsheet

Sometimes I need to share the results of a spreadsheet with others who don't want or should not see the formulas and calculations that produced those results. There are at least two ways to do this. …

For purposes of discussion, I assume that the spreadsheet contains one or more sheets of preliminary calculations, and the final sheet displays the data to be shared, formatted as desired. I further assume that the final sheet's cells are mostly formulas that copy data from the preceeding sheets (such as "=PreviousSheet.A5"). This last point means that the obvious, naive method of simply copying the desired sheet to a new spreadsheet will not work, as all the formulas will break.

I also assume that the sheet to be shared is selected and active.

One solution is to generate a PDF of the desired sheet. Don't use the toolbar's "Export Directly as PDF" button; that will include all the sheets, not just the one you want. Instead, go to File – Export as PDF – General and in "Range" choose "Selection". Choose any other options you wish, noting particularly those available in the "Security" tab. When finished, press "Export".

If you plan to distribute your PDF via email, an even easier method is found at File – Send – E-Mail as PDF. This takes you to the same PDF export dialog, but automatically attaches the exported PDF to an outgoing email.

This method is quick and easy. I use it, for example, to calculate and send invoices to clients. However, sometimes the recipient needs a spreadsheet rather than a PDF. To do that, first copy the entire sheet you wish to share (Edit – Select All, then Edit – Copy). Open a new, empty spreadsheet (File – New – Spreadsheet) and use the paste special command (Edit – Paste Special). In the dialog box under "Selection", uncheck "Paste All" and check everything else except "Formulas". Select any other options you wish and press "OK".

You may find, as I usually do, that not all formatting was copied over despite having specified that formatting was to be included in the Paste Special dialog. You will have to reformat them manually.

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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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