File format differences between OpenOffice Calc and Excel

This term the A204 math science computer laboratory has new computers. These new computers use an operating system based on Unix called Linux, specifically Fedora Red Hat Linux. This is why the name Fedora appears when the computer is booted up.

In the A204 laboratory we will be using the spreadsheet software Calc. This software is functionally similar to Microsoft Excel. OpenOffice can save files in Excel format, but by default OpenOffice will save in open document format. Microsoft Excel cannot open this format, so if you save files in the laboratory, then you should use Save as... and choose an Excel 97 format.

Only A204 has Linux computers with OpenOffice, all other computers on the campus are running Microsoft Windows.

File extensions

All files end in a three or four letter code called an extension that indicates the type of file you are trying to open. When you roll your mouse over a link on a web page, the bottom of the browser window will often indicate the address and file name for the file including the extension. These are some of the extensions used on the course home page:

.doc Microsoft Word document (opens everywhere, open with OpenOffice in A204)
.html Web page. Opens everywhere.
.ods OpenOffice Calc 2.0 spreadsheet (opens only in AA204)
.odt OpenOffice Writer 2.0 document (opens only in A204)
.sxc OpenOffice Calc 1.0 spreadsheet (opens only in AA204)
.sxw OpenOffice Writer 1.0 document (opens only in A204)
.xls Microsoft Excel (opens everywhere, open with OpenOffice in A204)

Formula differences

One other key difference exists between OpenOffice Calc and Microsoft Excel. Formulas that use a semi-colon in Calc use a comma in Excel. For example the formula for finding the slope of the least squares best fit line:

Calc: =slope(b2:b5;a2:a5)
Excel: =slope(b2:b5,a2:a5)

In A204 the first formula is correct, outside A204 the second formula is correct. At least until more computers on campus use OpenOffice.

Formulas that do not use a semi-colon are the same in both Calc and Excel:


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