Trying OpenOffice

The short version: How easy is it to use OpenOffice as a Word alternative? Is there a learning curve? Is it pretty much just like using Word but with a different layout?

The long version: I use Corel’s Word Perfect at home for my minimal word processing needs. On the rare occassions that I need to flip between WP and Word, it’s been painless but because my documents have very minimal formatting. The once or twice I’ve tried to convert a heavily formatted document or one with images, WP choked on me.

My girlfriend needs to work on a heavily formatted document this weekend and would prefer to do so on my computer rather than her own. I’m not convinced that Word Perfect will format it properly for her in conversion and she doesn’t have time to spend trying to fix it. Would we have good luck trying OpenOffice? If there’s a sharp learning curve, she might just be better off using her own computer but, if it’s pretty much seamless to Word then it might be what we’re looking for.

By “heavily formatted”, I mean that it is a government document meant to be distributed as a flier or pamphlet. So it has difference colors, indenting, bullet points, maybe some graphics (charts) and that sort of thing.


For the kind of formatting you’re talking about, there are nice, shiny buttons right on the toolbar.

The real learning curve comes in to play when you’re doing stuff with macros, formulas, and (especially) OOo’s (relatively) powerful stylesheet features.

She’s not actually creating the formatting, rather she’s translating the document. So she has a pre-formatted document and needs to re-write the text (in Spanish) while keeping the document looking the same.

I guess my biggest worry is that when she loads up the Word document in OO, works on it, saves it and sends it to someone who’ll open it back in Word that it’ll look as it’s supposed to. This shouldn’t be an issue?

For the most part, its not a problem. Where I found the most problems was attempting to edit a document in MS-word that was created in OpenOffice. It seems like every time I ever did that, the formatting got really screwed up.

Thanks for the tips. It sounds like it’s worth a shot. A final concern from the girlfriend (who needs to pony up for full membership now that her guest expired :wink: )

Anyone ever use Open Office for accented text (i.e. Spanish or some other foreign tongue)?

Or get ANOTHER guest membership… :smiley:

Star Office, from which OO was spun off, started in Germany, so I doubt there will be an issue. I’ve seen it insert the right diacritical marks in English words originating from foreign ones during spellcheck.

I use Star Office as my primary word processor. The later versions, now in OO, are much better at conversions. The one thing to be concerned about is that neither can look inside objects (like pictures and charts) created by the other. That’s been the chief annoyance. The objects look fine, but you’re limited in what you can do with them - so you would not be able to translate chart titles, for instance.