LibreOffice Calc: Page Styles and Page Settings


Page Styles in LibreOffice Calc set the properties for entire sheets of your workbook file. In any given Template you can have different sheets with different Page Styles if you wish, but for any given sheet you can only have one Page Style. And don’t be confused by the difference between a sheet in the file and a page when printed. One single sheet may take many physical pages to print, but it is all one sheet and it is all governed by a single Page Style.

Making the Page Styles Your Own

With your Styles and Formatting window open and anchored to the side of your page, just go to the Page Styles button and click on it. It is the second one from the left, the first one being the Cell Styles button. You will probably see two Page Styles already there in the out-of-the-box configuration, Default and Report. You can edit either of them by right-clicking on it and selecting “Modify”. If you do that, you will change that style. Alternatively, you can create a new style based on the existing style, give it a new name, and add to your Page Styles collection. To do that, you select the Page Style you want to use as your starting point, then go the New Style from Selection button, which is the second from the right. And finally, you can start from scratch by right-clicking anywhere inside the Styles and Formatting window and selecting “New”. So you have lots of options. I plan to modify my Default Page Style, but I know (from the last tutorial) that if I don’t first open my Default Template I won’t be saving any of my work. I created my own Default Template last time, which I named KOB Default. So now I open the Template Manager, go to the My Templates folder, select the KOB Default Template, and then click the Edit button on top. I check the Title Bar at the very top, and it reads “KOB Default.ots”, so I know I am now in my Default Template. Any changes I make and save will show up in every spreadsheet I open form now on as long as I don’t specifically choose some other Template.

Now that I am in my Default Template, I right-click on the Default Page Style, and select “Modify”. This opens the Properties window for the Default Page Style:

Page Style Properties window

Page Style Properties window








This looks a bit like the ones we used in Writer, and that should not be a surprise. LibreOffice is a unified suite, so things should be much the same no matter which module you are in. Let’s look at each of the tabs and make some settings.


There is not anything you can do on this tab. This is a built-in style and so you cannot rename it or link it to another style. If those are things you really need to do, you should create new style based on this, give it whatever name you like, and make your links there. Linking styles is something fairly advanced so I don’t recommend it to someone still learning about Styles. A lot can go wrong. But note that we can create a new style, assign it to the blank sheet, and since this is the Default Template every new spreadsheet we create from this Template will use that new Style.


This gives you printer settings, basically. Since I am in the U.S. it specifies Letter size paper with the dimensions 8.5″ x 11″. It picks this up from my computer that I am located in the U.S. and applies the appropriate settings. Note that I can change it here in this style, however, if I wanted to use A4. Just click the drop-down button and change “Letter” to A4. Note that this still will leave your measurements in inches. If you want to change that to millimeters, there is a setting in LibreOffice to make this change, but it makes the change for Calc in general, not just for this Template. To do this, go to Tools–>Options–>LibreOffice Calc–>General and make the change. But if you installed LibreOffice in a country that uses sensible measurments you probably don’t need to change anything.

For a Default Template there is not a lot on this tab that merits a change. If you were creating a Template for something wide and wanted to use wider paper, such as what we call Legal size (8.5″ x 14″), you could specify a paper tray that always has that size of paper, but this is a default. And I don’t see the need to mess around with the margins here. But I will make a change from Portrait to Landscape for my orientation. Most of the time the things I print from Calc require this orientation, so it makes sense to specify it in the Default.


This is where you would set borders for the sheet as a whole, not for individual cells. You may never need to use this.


You can apply either a color as a background, or an image, and again this applies to the sheet as a whole, and you may never need to use it. If you create a detailed Template where you want to put background colors or images into specific cells, you would use Cell Styles instead.


This is for laying out the page. You use this to specify the space you set aside for a header, margins to apply, and so on. You can also set this up to have left and right pages be different, which is similar to what we saw in Page Styles for Writer. The important thing to keep in mind is that this is not where you put in the content of the header. In general styles never contain content, but they do help to format it properly. Clicking the More button will allow you to apply borders and shadows to your Header should you wish to do so.


Very much the same things apply to footers as apply to headers. The tabs are identical in appearance, the only difference is that footers are on the bottom and headers are on the top.


This has some useful stuff in it. The first section is the print order for large spreadsheets that won’t fit on a single page. The Default is to print the first X number of columns, and keep going down until all rows have had those columns printed, then go back to the top and print the next X number of columns going down until all of the sheet has been printed. The alternative is to print the first X number of rows, and keep going across printing additional columns until done, then drop down to the next X number of rows. I have a preference for the second option, myself, since I usually read rows of data going across on my spreadsheets, so I will change it to the “Left to right, then down” option.

Then in the Print section you can select the things you want to automatically print.

  • Column and row headers – This will print the row numbers 1,2,3,4… going down and the column letters A, B, C, D… going across. I usually like this, so I will turn it on.
  • Grid – Normally when you print the spreadsheet none of the grid lines are printed. I find that makes the printed copy much harder to follow since you can’t easily tell when numbers are on the same line, so I always turn this on
  • Comments – One of the things you can do in a spreadsheet is attach comments to specific cells, and you can read them with a mouseover. This would have them printed on a separate sheet of paper, and identified with a cell reference. Obviously, you really need to be printing Row and Column headers for this to work at all, since that is the only way to accurately use cell addresses. It doesn’t hurt to turn this on, since if you rarely use Comments it won’t matter, and when you do use comments you probably want this, so I turn it on.
  • Objects/graphics – If you have put these into your spreadsheet you probably want them to be printed. This is usually on by default anyway.
  • Charts – We covered how to create charts, and if you created one in your spreadsheet you probably want it printed. This is on by default.
  • Drawing objects – If you put one into your spreadsheet, you probably want to print it. Essentially this is a graphic, but instead of being a static file it retains its identity as something created in Draw, and can be edited within LibreOffice. Again, this is on by default.
  • Formulas – This would print the actual formulas used instead of the results of those formulas. Recall that we made a careful distinction between these earlier in the series. I think it is very rare that you would want to do this, so I would leave it blank.
  • Zero values – prints cells that have a zero value. There is no reason not to that I can see, and it is on by default.

The thing to keep in mind is that we are editing the Default Template, so we are making the choices that we will most often want to use. You can always override these settings for any particular spreadsheet whenever you want by going to Format–>Page, which will open the very same Page Style Properties window. But if you find yourself always going into this window to turn on grid lines, for instance, why not save yourself some trouble and put it into your Default Template that way?

The last thing on this tab is the Scale setting. I tend to leave this at 100% since I can never predict what I will need to do in any given spreadsheet when I need to print it out. This is one setting that I do on a case-by-case basis.

Once you have finished making your setting in the Page Styles window, click OK.  Now, you want to make sure this Style has been applied to your sheet. So go to the Styles and Formatting Window, click the Page Styles button, and double-click on the Default style to apply your modified style to the open page in your new Default Template. If your Default Template opens a new spreadsheet with more than one sheet in it (mine always opens with just one sheet, as we discussed in an earlier tutorial) you need to repeat this procedure for every sheet in your Template. These settings will now be the default for all new sheets you create from the Default Template.

Other Page Settings

You can do other things, such as set your Printer settings (File–>Printer Settings) if you need to do this. In most cases you don’t really need to do this unless you have several printers available to you and want to use a non-default printer. Since I am working on my Default Template though I will pass that by. But recall that I mentioned above that the content of the Headers and Footers is not set in the Page Style. The formatting of the page layout is there, such as how much space to leave, whether or not you wanted a border around it, etc. But to actually fill in content you need to go to Edit–>Headers & Footers. This brings up an Edit window just for creating Headers and Footers.

Calc Header & Footer editing window

Calc Header & Footer editing window








I do not have a use case right now where I need to set a default header, but there are default footers I like to have. So I go to the second tab, Footer, and take a look. Calc divides the footer area into three regions, a left, a right, and a center. You can place elements in each of these areas. Bear in mind that this is in the bottom area of the page, so filling across is usually better than putting multiple entries in one area going down. The idea is that we can insert into one of these areas some text or a field to add content about the page. I generally like to add some things by default down here. First, because I work in a networked environment and share documents with others on my team, I like to include the file name and path of the spreadsheet. And I can do that by clicking on the Footer drop-down, and looking for a selection. I see two options here, one which is just the file name and path, and another that also adds the Page Number. Since I like both, I click on this to add it. And Page 1 appears in the center area, and the file name and path appears in the right area. As it happens, I want the file name and path to appear in the left area, so I just click-and-drag this field from the right to the left. Next, I have Page Number, but I like to add the total number of pages as well. So I edit the center area to add “(space)of(space)” after the number 1. I go to the Custom Footer buttons on the bottom, and click the button that says Pages when I mouse over it. I click this button, and it adds a “99”. My middle field now reads “Page 1 of 99”. But note that both the number 1 and the number 99 have a gray background. So does my file name and path. What that means is that these are fields which will be replaced by actual data when the spreadsheet is created. Now, in my blank right area, I click to insert another item, go down to the Custom Footer, and click the Date button. This inserts a Date field, and right now it reads “00/00/0000” But this is also in a gray background, so I know it will be replaced by the actual date later.

For all of these you can also adjust the font by using the Text Attributes button, but I don’t usually bother in a Footer. If I were doing Header, however, I might want to make it larger and bold.

When you are done, click “OK” to save this to your Default Template.

The last step is to make sure you save the Template. Since LibreOffice already knows this is a Template you are editing, just click the Save button


Now let’s make sure we did our work properly. Go to File–>New–>Spreadsheet. This should create a brand-new spreadsheet based on the Default Template. So we will check the Page Properties by going to Format–>Page and checking the settings. I chaged the orientation on the Page tab, and I can see that it is now Landscape by default. Then I check the Sheet tab, see that my page order is now “Left to right, then down”, that grid lines are turned on by default, and all of the other changes are there. Then I open the Edit–>Headers and Footers, and verify that the changes I made there are in place. Finally, I click the plus button at the bottom to add a sheet, and repeat the verification. If everything checks out, I know I have now gotten my new Default Page Style to govern my new Default Template.

If you do not get the verification checks, go back and make sure that you definitely set your new Template as the Default, that you definitely did apply the new style to each sheet, and so on.

New up is Cell Styles.

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