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In calc, how to rename a column? Usual ways don't work. [closed]

asked 2014-06-05 15:26:11 +0200

David Spector gravatar image

updated 2014-06-06 18:30:06 +0200

Just starting to use Libre for first time. Want to use calc. First task: rename column A to something more meaningful. Right clicked on "A" button. Context menu has no Rename item. Surprised. Okay, what now? Double-clicked on "A". No response. Not so surprised now. Starting to wonder. Leaving the column selected, clicked menu item Format. No Rename in menu. Can't think of any other likely way to rename a column. Maybe Help will help? Clicked menu item Help, then LibreOffice Help. Get a nice wiki in my browser. Search for "calc rename column" without the quotes. Get message "There were no results matching the query." Huh? Try again using "spreadsheet rename column", again no results.

Okay, must report strange lack of help. Make bugzilla account, try to submit bug report. No category available for documentation bugs in LibreOffice components. Surprising. Try the user community.

That brings me here.

So, I have some questions:

  1. Is LibreOffice really as difficult to use as my first experience of it, as described here indicates? Or did I just have bad luck?

  2. Is it really so hard to contribute documentation bug reports?

  3. Is it possible to extend LibreOffice quickly to act more intuitively ourselves (I am a software engineer with 40 years of experience, and a Wikipedia editor)?

  4. How does one actually rename columns in calc? Or, aha!, are columns limited to letters like most older spreadsheet programs? (In which case, fixing this "bug" might not be so easy.)

Added: I just tried to insert an ascending list of integers by manually inserting two examples then selecting range. Doesn't seem to work. In Help, "calc insert integers ascending" produces no results. Added question: how to do this common operation?

Added after first two answers: These answers are missing the point of my posting.

I'll try again, with a third example: there is no simple way to duplicate (clone) a line or column. This posting shows how to do it, but it requires the user to add a 17-line macro.

My point is that this product, which may be very well constructed internally for all I know, keeps surprising the user by not providing easy ways to do common tasks, whether those tasks are within the functionality of the office component or within the Help documentation.

I get the feeling that making the product work really nicely is not one of its goals.

If there is no way to state what may be a fundamental flaw and get some enthusiastic and positive feedback, then I don't understand how you will be successful in developing a user-friendly and complete office suite. Or maybe you have too many bugs to fix to add more complete functionality? Or, hmmm, maybe your goal is simply to maintain this snapshot of OpenOffice as is? That's possible to do, but what is the point?

And, if you reply that this is not the place to discuss functionality or goals, then where is the right place? Or ... (more)

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Closed for the following reason too subjective and argumentative by bencomp
close date 2014-06-23 22:25:50.040298


Being a software engineer since a long time and with a lot of experience but without experience with any real-worls spreadsheet software you might be interested in learning on a high level about the common concepts underlying this class of software. There are two main branches of implementations partly being interoperable: MS Office (here Excel) and the family steming from the StarOffice roots (here: Calc). (Will be continued.)

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2014-06-05 21:53:27 +0200 )edit

(Continuing) For the latter one there are technical specifications: and same URL with "part2" replacing "part1". After studying these documents and comparing them with the MS 'equivalents' (OOXML as search key) you will surely be able to create better specifications and to implement them - or at least to volunteer joining one of the developer teams of free software with focus on spreadsheets. Rank growth was already enough.

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2014-06-05 22:01:05 +0200 )edit

Much as I'm attracted by the idea of refining the technical specifications for spreadsheet design, I'm afraid I don't have time for such a large undertaking. I have other sets of tasks that keep me quite busy. My purpose here is to stimulate the developers already here to do a better job of making calc "surprise-free" and user-friendly. There is not enough space permitted in a comment for me to complete my thought. I will continue working with calc and trying to improve it, okay?

David Spector gravatar imageDavid Spector ( 2014-06-06 18:35:05 +0200 )edit

Please stick to asking one (main) question at a time. That makes it easier for other users to answer and help solve your issues. You can refer to other questions by just inserting a link, if you like, e.g. if you ask related questions. If you would like to respond to given answers, please use the comment link under the answers. Referring to "first" or "top" answers is unreliable, because votes and edits determine position and 'current' timestamp. Thanks.

bencomp gravatar imagebencomp ( 2014-06-06 23:43:12 +0200 )edit

@David Spector, you seem to be adopting a "I don't want to learn, I just want this to work". It's like driving a car but refusing to know which knobs/buttons do what. Duplicating a column or row works like any other item under ANY OS or Program. Just Copy and Paste. Doing a simple calculation like 60+4260+1 just requires you to start with a + (sum) sign. It's a rule for ALL spreadsheets since Lotus 123 for DOS (you can also use an = (equal) sign since that is the way MS Excel users expect it)

Pedro gravatar imagePedro ( 2014-06-06 23:45:25 +0200 )edit

And now with some more regard to your apparent main question: if I understand correctly, your concern is an apparent lack of useful help for the Calc programme. If so, could you change the main question and create separate questions for the problems you use as examples? Eventually well answered questions can serve for better documentation. Thanks again!

bencomp gravatar imagebencomp ( 2014-06-06 23:58:34 +0200 )edit

The best answer to the original question, to make the rown/column labels more meaningful, is to use the first row & first column for your labels, and then use Window -> Freeze to freeze the position of the first row & first column while scrolling through the rest of the spreadsheet. Bencomp, can you re-open the thread and put this answer in, to help other people? The existing answers obscure the one solution that fixes this problem. Thanks.

rtdrury gravatar imagertdrury ( 2015-06-24 00:23:36 +0200 )edit

Spector actual has a legitimate point, and anyone who has coded used enums will appreciate that their use enhances readability which is what's being asked for here. @rtdrury your solution works if you maintain 1 sheet. What happens if you want to begin new sheets with the same columns ( and same column widths, etc) ? Do you have to re-type all your column descriptors all over again ?

wodianoy gravatar imagewodianoy ( 2015-08-22 04:01:29 +0200 )edit

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answered 2014-06-05 16:03:04 +0200

Pedro gravatar image

You can not rename the columns. That is not a Calc problem it's how spreadsheets work.

The name of the columns (A,B,C,...) are like coordinates. Like a chess board.

You can add whatever names you like in the first row. If you enable Autofilter (under Data > Filter > Autofilter) you can Sort your data, filter, etc.

Please ask one question on each topic ;)

If you need extensive help please join the User mailing list at

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answered 2014-06-06 02:40:46 +0200

ROSt52 gravatar image

Should all before written excellent answers and comments do not provide the information/answer you look for, I highly recommend to download the free Calc manual here:

Reading the manual is sometimes an perfect shortcut to the knowledge needed.

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Asked: 2014-06-05 15:26:11 +0200

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Last updated: Jun 06 '14