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Office shootout: OpenOffice.org Calc vs. Microsoft Excel

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I spent a couple of days testing OOo Calc and Microsoft Excel features for formatting, list-making, formulas, and formula tools. Since the range of user expertise in spreadsheets tends to be much wider than in slide shows or even word processors, I considered the programs largely from the perspective of an average user who might require a spreadsheet for home or business use.

Cell, sheet, and page formatting

Calc's and Excel's options for formatting cells are so similar that their tabs are in the same order. The main difference in options is in number formatting, where Excel offers a Special category for phone numbers, social insurance numbers, and zip codes, and Calc offers Boolean values, as well as settings for decimal places, leading zeroes, coloring negative numbers red, and the thousands separator -- values that Excel tucks away under the Excel button in the ribbon. Calc also has an option not only for text wrap within cells, but also for hyphenation, which may be useful to those who use spreadsheets primarily for making lists. Otherwise, the cell formatting options are virtually identical for format, font, border, background, and protection, differing mainly in names.

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