LibreOffice Impress: Impress Built-In Charts


In the last tutorial we looked at OLE objects, and saw that Charts could be brought into Impress from Calc via OLE. But you can create the Charts directly in Impress. Bear in mind that due to the modular nature of LibreOffice you will be using the same tools to do this as Calc uses: LibreOffice developers never reinvent the wheel if they can avoid it.

There is a lot to know about Charts if you are going to use them effectively, and we covered all of this in our Calc tutorials. Here are some links to the previous discussions:

These tutorials cover some interesting points in some depth, and since I have the information in these pages I won’t repeat it here. This tutorial will focus on creating these Charts from inside Impress.

As we saw earlier, the default new slide has four sections in the middle for inserting objects:

  • Insert Table
  • Insert Chart
  • Insert Image
  • Insert Movie

We have covered Images and Movies, and part of Charts in our discussion of OLE linking from Calc. But now let’s look at creating a Chart directly on a new slide. We can do it using the button on a new slide, which will work fine, but has limitations. For instance. what if we wanted to put in some text? If we add text, the button for inserting a Chart goes away, and if we start with a Chart the AutoLayout box for text goes away. And sometimes we want to put a chart into a slideĀ that is already in the deck and thus has no button available. This means we need to have two ways to insert a Chart: 1) from the button on a new slide; or 2) by going to the Insert menu and selecting Chart. Either option will perform the same way. What will happen with either option is that a sample Column Chart will be created and placed on your slide. It may not be the type of Chart you want, and it definitely won’t have your data, but it is a starting point from which you can edit everything to get it the way you want.

Chart Type

Column Charts are only one of the types of Chart available to you. If that is what you wanted you don’t need to change anything, but you have other options. To make a change, first make sure you have selected the Chart. You know you have done this when there is a grey box around the Chart and you see the 8 “handles” on the sides and corners of the box. When you have done so, you will see that the usual Impress toolbars have gone away and now you are seeing toolbars and icons appropriate to the Chart editing. To see what each Icon is, just mouseover it and a popup will tell you the name. Look for one that says Chart Type. Click it and you will get this window:

LibreOffice Impress Chart Type

LibreOffice Impress Chart Type







You can see that you have a number of options available here:

  • Column
  • Bar
  • Pie
  • Area
  • Line
  • XY (Scatter)
  • Bubble
  • Net
  • Stock
  • Column and Line

Not surprisingly, these are exactly the same as the options in Calc, and indeed it is the Calc module that is being called. And since I discussed when to use each of these in the Calc tutorials I will refer you there for any additional discussion. Just choose the type you need for your Chart, and click OK.

Entering Chart Data

Next, once you have your Chart Type selected, you need to enter the appropriate data in place of the sample dummy data that is there now. With the Chart selected as above, look for the icon for Chart Data Table, and click on it. This will bring up a window where you can enter your data like this:

LibreOffice Impress Chart Data

LibreOffice Impress Chart Data







Here you can put in appropriate labels for your data. In my example I left this a Column Chart, so I see the Column icon appear next to the Column names. I can click and change each one of those from Column 1, Column 2, etc. into meaningful names for my data, like Android, iOS, and Windows. Then for each row I can change the row labels from Row 1, Row 2, etc. to things like North America, South America, Europe, and Asia/Pacific. And as I make these edits, I can see the chart on my slide updating with the new data. Next, I need to put in my numbers. To get something meaningful to look at I made up some numbers for market share of each mobile OS in each region, and this gave me the following Chart:

LibreOffice Impress Chart with Data

LibreOffice Impress Chart with Data






This is looking pretty good, but I just realized I left out Africa! Not a problem though, because there are editing buttons on top of the Chart Data Table as follows:

  • Insert row
  • Insert Series (i.e. Column in this case)
  • Insert Text Column
  • Delete Row
  • Delete Series
  • Move Series Right
  • Move Row Down

On my Column Chart, the Rows are the groups along the horizontal axis, which represent the regions, and the Series are the different mobile OSes for which I put in data. So if I wanted to add Africa, I would just click Insert Row, and fill in my data.

Chart Elements

With the chart selected, take a look at the Menu bar. While it looks familiar, it is not the Impress menu bar at all. Since LibreOffice knows you are working on a Chart it has replaced the Impress menu options with Chart options, and you can see this clearly when you go to the Insert menu. Here you will find only options that are relevant to working on a Chart:

  • Titles
  • Legend
  • Axes
  • Grids
  • Data Labels
  • Trend Lines
  • Mean Value Lines
  • X Error Bars
  • Y Error Bars

And any option that does not make sense will be greyed out. In my case, with a Column Chart, the Trend Lines option was greyed out because that would not make sense in this type of Chart. So I can add a few elements from here, like a Title. And if I select Titles, I get this Window that also lets me label my Axes:

LibreOffice Impress Chart Titles

LibreOffice Impress Chart Titles








Of course, you might insert one of these things and then change your mind. That is easily fixed, just click on it to select it and press the Delete key.

Editing Chart Elements

We have in several places previously discussed the Object-Oriented approach in LibreOffice, and that objects contain other objects, have inheritance, and so on. For instance, see our discussion inĀ LibreOffice Calc: The Object Model and Using Templates for more information. As regards Chart editing, each of these elements is an object in itself and can be independently edited. Right-click on the object and you should get a context-sensitive menu of options:

LibreOffice Impress Chart Elements Editing

LibreOffice Impress Chart Elements Editing







The first option is Format, and it will say Format Title, or Format Legend, or Format Axis, and so on, depending on which object you have chosen. The Format selection will open a screen with plenty of options:

  • Borders – This will let you put a border around the object, and control the Style (continuous, dotted, etc.), the color, the width, and the transparency
  • Area – This lets you fill in the object background with a color, a gradient, hatching, or use one of a number of built-in bitmaps.
  • Transparency – This affects the background of the object, and may be used to mix a background color with that of the containing object.
  • Font
  • Font Effects
  • Alignment (including rotation)

The second option, Position and Size, lets you fine-tune these options on the Chart. Then there are options to revisit your Chart Type and Data Table, though you can do that just as well from the buttons above. And finally, you have the Cut, Copy, and Paste options.

Chart Area and Chart Wall

Two last editing options I want to mention are the Chart Area and the Chart Wall. Each one is a background, but they are separate. When you select the Chart, and have a border around it and the eight handles visible, you are enclosing the Chart Area. It contains a bunch of other objects, such as Titles, Legends, Axis Labels, and the Chart itself in the middle. With the principle of Object Inheritance, you should expect that formatting options applied to the Chart as whole will affect each of these objects. And this is a good place to illustrate how this works. Right-click on a blank space within the overall Chart, but not over any of the objects contained in it. You should see an option called Format Chart Area. Go to the second tab, Area, and select a color. You will see that the entire Chart now has that color as a background, including all of the objects inside of it. That is how object inheritance works. But objects need not inherit if you give them their own properties. To see how this works, right-click on the Title, go to the Area tab, and select a different color for the Title. You will now see the Title selection has overridden the Chart Area selection. And if you go to the Transparency tab on the Title you can even mix the colors.

But in the main part of the Chart if you right-click you will see Format Wall, and you will then notice that instead of the entire chart as whole selected, it is just that main body selected. So here you can give it a different background or use transparency to mix it with the Chart Area color as desired.

That concludes the discussion of adding a Chart directly to the Impress slide, and next we will look at Tables.

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