Calc Guide

Chapter 11
Sharing and Reviewing Documents


This document is Copyright © 2005–2011 by its contributors as listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (, version 3.0 or later.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


Barbara Duprey
Hal Parker


Please direct any comments or suggestions about this document to:


This chapter is based on Chapter 11 of the 3.3 Calc Guide. The contributors to that chapter are:

Martin J. Fox Spencer E. Harpe Peter Kupfer
Sigrid Kronenberger Andy Brown Jean Hollis Weber

Publication date and software version

Published 17 April 2011. Based on LibreOffice 3.3.

Note for Mac users

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on a Mac from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this chapter. For a more detailed list, see the application Help.


Mac equivalent


Tools Options menu selection

LibreOffice Preferences

Access setup options



Open context menu

Ctrl (Control)

z (Command)

Used with other keys



Open the Navigator



Open Styles & Formatting window


Copyright 2

Note for Mac users 2

Introduction 4

Sharing documents (collaboration) 4

Setting up a spreadsheet for sharing 4

Opening a shared spreadsheet 5

Saving a shared spreadsheet 5

Recording changes 6

Preparing a document for review (optional) 6

Identifying copies of spreadsheets 7

Recording changes (tutorial) 7

Adding comments to changes 8

Editing change comments 9

Adding other comments 10

Editing comments 10

Formatting comments 11

Finding comments using the Navigator 11

Reviewing changes 11

Viewing changes 11

Accepting or rejecting changes 12

Merging documents 13

Comparing documents 14

Saving versions 15


This chapter covers methods for editing shared documents: sharing (collaboration), recording changes, adding comments, reviewing changes, merging and comparing documents, and saving and using document versions. Basic editing techniques are discussed in Chapter 2, Entering, Editing, and Formatting Data.

Sharing documents (collaboration)

In LibreOffice Writer, Impress, and Draw, only one user at a time can open any document for editing. In Calc, many users can open the same spreadsheet for writing at the same time.

Each user who wants to collaborate should be sure to enter a name on the Tools Options LibreOffice User Data page.

Some menu commands are not available (grayed out) when change tracking or document sharing is activated.

Setting up a spreadsheet for sharing

At any time, you can set up a spreadsheet for sharing with others. With the spreadsheet document open, choose Tools Share Document to activate the collaboration features for this document. A dialog opens where you can enable or disable sharing.


To enable sharing, select the box at the top of the dialog, and then click OK. A message appears stating that you must save the document to activate shared mode. Click Yes to continue. The word (shared) is then shown on the title bar after the document’s title.

The Tools Share Document command can be used to switch the mode for a document from unshared to shared. However, if you want to use a shared document in unshared mode, you need to save the shared document using another name or path. This creates a copy of the spreadsheet that is not shared.

Opening a shared spreadsheet

When you open a spreadsheet document that is in shared mode, a message appears stating that the document is in shared mode and that some features are not available in this mode. After clicking OK, the document is opened in shared mode.

The following features are known to be disabled in a shared spreadsheet document:

Edit Changes, except for Merge Document
Edit Compare Document
Edit Sheet Move/Copy & Delete

Insert Cells Shift Cells Down & Shift Cells Right
Insert Sheet from file
Insert Names
Insert Comment
Insert Picture From File
Insert Movie and Sound
Insert Object
Insert Chart
Insert Floating Frame

Format Sheet Rename, Tab Color
Format Merge Cells Merge and Center, Merge Cells, Split Cells
Format Print Ranges

Tools Protect Document

Data Define Range
Data Sort
Data Subtotals
Data Validity
Data Multiple Operations
Data Consolidate
Data Group and Outline (all)
Data DataPilot

Saving a shared spreadsheet

When you save a shared spreadsheet, one of several situations may occur:



When you successfully save a shared spreadsheet, the document shows the latest version of all changes saved by all users.

Recording changes

You can use several methods to record changes that you or others make to a document.

Reviewers can leave comments in the document, either attached to specific changes or standalone.

Preparing a document for review (optional)

When you send a document to someone else to review or edit, you may want to protect it first so that the editor or reviewer does not have to remember to turn on the revision marks. After you have protected the document, any user must enter the correct password in order to turn off protection and accept or reject changes.

  1. Open the document and make sure that the Edit Changes Record menu item has a check mark next to it, indicating that change recording is active.

  2. (Optional) Click Edit Changes Protect Records. On the Protect Records dialog, type a password (twice) and click OK.


It is not necessary to password protect the document while preparing it for review.

Identifying copies of spreadsheets

When not using the document sharing feature, it is important to keep track of the different copies of the document. This can be done either in the file name or in the file title. If you have not provided a file title in the spreadsheet’s properties, the spreadsheet’s file name is displayed in the title bar. To set the title of the spreadsheet, select File Properties Description.

Recording changes (tutorial)

For this chapter we will work with a budget proposal for a baseball team.


Figure 4 shows the budget spreadsheet your coach submitted.


Looking over the figures, you see a few places where money could be saved:

To make these changes, use the record changes feature in Calc. To start recording changes:

  1. Open the Budget Spreadsheet.

  2. Select Edit Changes Record from the menu bar.

  3. Begin editing the document.

A colored border, with a dot in the upper left-hand corner, appears around a cell where changes were made (Figure 5). Other reviewers then quickly know which cells were edited. A deleted column or row is marked by a heavy colored bar.



Some changes, for example cell formatting, are not recorded and marked.


To change the color that indicates changes, select Tools Options LibreOffice Calc Changes.

When you finish editing the document, you can send it to your coach.

You may want to explain your rationale for the changes. You can share your insight in two ways: by adding comments to the changes you made, or by adding general comments to the spreadsheet.

Adding comments to changes

Calc automatically adds to any recorded change a comment that describes what was changed (for example, Cell B4 changed from ‘9’ to ‘4’). Reviewers and authors can add their own comments to explain their reasons for the changes.

To add a comment to a change:

  1. Make the change to the spreadsheet.

  2. Select the cell with the change.

  3. Choose Edit Changes Comments. The dialog shown in Figure 6 appears. The automatically-added comment provided by Calc appears in the title bar of this dialog and cannot be edited.

  4. Type your own comment and click OK.


You can step through your changes one at a time using the left and right arrows on the right hand side of the Comment dialog, and add comments to each change. The title bar for the Comment dialog shows the cell and the change you are commenting on.


After you have added a comment to a changed cell, you can see it by hovering the mouse pointer over the cell, as shown in Figure 7.


The comment also appears in the dialog when you are accepting and rejecting changes, as shown in the first line of Figure 12 on page 13.

Editing change comments

  1. Select the cell with the change comment that you want to edit.

  2. Select Edit Changes Comments.

  3. Edit the comment and click OK.


You can view your comments one at a time using the left and right arrows located on the right hand side of the Comment dialog. You do not need to click OK after editing each comment; you can save them all at once when you’re done editing.

Adding other comments

Calc provides another type of comments (formerly called “notes”), which authors and reviewers often use to exchange ideas, ask for suggestions, or brainstorm in the document.

To add a comment:

  1. Select the cell that the comment applies to.

  2. Select Insert Comment or right-click and select Insert Comment. (The latter method does not work if the automatic spelling checker is active and the cell contains a misspelled word.) The box shown in Figure 8 appears.

  3. Type the text of your comment in the box.

  4. Click outside the box to close it.


Now the cell to which you added the comment has a colored dot in the upper right-hand corner, as shown in Figure 9. It does not have a colored border, unless the cell was also changed.



You can change the colors Calc uses for notes by selecting Tools Options LibreOffice Appearance.

To view the comment you just added, hover the mouse pointer over the cell that has a comment; the comment appears, as shown below.


Editing comments

You can edit and format the text of a comment, just as you do for any other text.

  1. Right-click on the cell containing the comment marker, and choose Show comment from the context menu.

  2. Select the comment, then double-click on it. The cursor changes to the usual blinking text-entry cursor, and the Formatting toolbar changes to show text attributes.

  3. When done, click outside the comment to deselect it. To hide the comment again, right-click on the cell and deselect Show Comment on the context menu.

Formatting comments

You can change the background color, border style, transparency, and other attributes of a comment.

  1. Right-click on the cell containing the comment marker, and choose Show comment from the context menu.

  2. Click on the comment itself. The Formatting toolbar changes to show many of the comment formatting options. These are the same as the options for formatting graphics; see Chapter 5, Using Graphics in Calc, for more information.

You can also right-click on the comment to see a menu of choices, some of which lead to dialogs in which you can fine-tune the formatting; these dialogs are also discussed in Chapter 5.

  1. When done, click outside the comment to deselect it. To hide the comment again, right-click on the cell and deselect Show Comment on the context menu.

Finding comments using the Navigator

The small comment markers in the corners of cells can be difficult to see, so Calc provides another way to find them, by using the Navigator. If any comments are in the spreadsheet, the Navigator shows a mark (usually a + or an arrow) next to the word Comments. Click on this mark to display a list of comments. Double-click on the comment you want to jump directly to the cell it is associated with.

Reviewing changes

At this point, we are going to change our perspective from the point of view of the team sponsor to that of the coach, so we can see how to review and accept or reject the changes to the document the coach originally wrote.


Viewing changes

Calc gives you tremendous control over what changes you see when reviewing a document. To change the available filters, select Edit Changes Show. The dialog shown in Figure 11 opens.


Using the different settings, you can control which changes appear on screen. You can filter based on:


You can also access the filter control in the Accept or Reject Changes dialog shown in Figure 12. Click the Filter tab to get a set of options similar to those shown in Figure 9.

Accepting or rejecting changes

When you receive a document back with changes, the beauty of the recording changes system becomes evident. Now, as the original author, you can step through each change and decide how to proceed. To begin this process:

  1. Open the edited document.

  2. Select Edit Changes Accept or Reject. The dialog shown in Figure 12 appears.

  3. Calc steps through the changes one at a time. You can choose to accept or reject each change as you go through.

The Comment column by default contains an explanation of the change that was made. If the reviewer added a comment to the change, it is displayed, followed by the description of the change, as in the first line of Figure 12.

If more than one person has reviewed the document, one reviewer may have modified another reviewer’s change. If so, the changes are hierarchically arranged with a plus sign for opening up the hierarchy.


On the Filter tab of this dialog (not shown here), you can choose how to filter the list of changes: by date, author, cell range, or comments containing specific terms. After selecting the filter criteria, switch back to the List tab to see the results.

Merging documents


The processes discussed to this point are effective when you have one reviewer at a time. Sometimes, however, multiple reviewers all return edited versions of a document at the same time. In this case, it may be quicker to review all of these changes at once, rather than one review at a time. For this purpose, you can merge documents in Calc.

To merge documents, all of the edited documents need to have recorded changes in them.

  1. Open the original document.

  2. Select Edit Changes Merge Document.

  3. A file selection dialog opens. Select a file you want to merge and click OK.

  4. After the documents merge, the Accept or Reject Changes dialog opens, as in Figure 13, showing changes by more than one reviewer. If you want to merge more documents, close the dialog and then repeat steps 2 and 3.

Now all of the changes are combined into one document and you can accept or reject the changes. Changes from different authors appear in different colors in the document, as shown in Figure 14. In this example, all of the changes from Robert are blue and the changes from Mia are red.



Comparing documents

Sometimes when sharing documents, reviewers may forget to record the changes they make. This is not a problem with Calc, because Calc can find the changes by comparing documents.

In order to compare documents you need to have the original document and the one that is edited. To compare them:

  1. Open the edited document that you want to compare with the original document.

  2. Select Edit Compare Document.

  3. An open document dialog appears. Select the original document and click Insert.

Calc finds and marks the changes as follows:

From this point you can go through and accept or reject changes as you could normally.

Saving versions

Most documents go through many drafts. It is often useful to save new versions of a document. You can do this by saving a copy of the document (under a different name) after each revision, or by using Calc’s version feature.


If you do a Save As... of a document with different versions stored in it, the old versions are not saved in the new file.

To use version management in Calc:

  1. Choose File Versions. The Versions dialog opens.


  1. Click the Save New Version button to save a new version.

  2. A dialog opens where you can enter comments about this version.


  1. After you enter your comment and click OK, the new version is included in the version list.


Now when you save the file, both versions are saved in the same file. From this point you can:


The new file is bigger in size, as if two spreadsheets were saved together.