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How to change OpenOffice chart colors

As a frequent user of the OpenOffice apps, including the Calc spreadsheet (oo’s version of Excel), I occasionally need to create a chart from some of my data.  Typically, I’ll create a pie or bar chart in Calc, then copy and paste it into Writer (oo’s version of MS Word).  Recently I created two pie charts from similar data and I needed the colors of the pie slices to be the same for corresponding categories in each chart; in other words, I had a Category A in Chart 1 and a Category A in Chart 2, and I wanted the pie chart slices for Category A to be the same color of blue in both Chart 1 and Chart 2.

I didn’t figure this would be a huge problem, especially since when I created the charts in Calc, it gave the corresponding categories the same colors without me having to do anything.  Unfortunately, when I copied and pasted the charts into Writer, Writer changed the colors!  Wha?

I figured I would just manually set the proper color for each pie slice, but it’s not at all obvious how to do this simple task, and the oo help documentation isn’t that helpful.  Here’s what you do:

  1. After pasting your chart into Writer, single-click the chart to make sure it’s selected.
  2. Double-click the chart to put it in “Editing mode.”
  3. Single-click on the pie; this will make a series of small green squares appear on your pie slices, one green square per pie slice.
  4. Single click on one of the pie slices; this will select that one pie slice.
  5. Double-click on this same “selected” pie slice; this will bring up the “Data Point” dialog box.  Select the “Area” tab and select “Color” in the dropdown box.
  6. Select the color you want the pie slice to have and click Save.

Repeat steps 4-6 for each pie slice and you’re done.  The key is to single-click and/or double-click at the right time and place; if you don’t, you won’t be able to get to the correct “Data Point” dialog box.

I’m not sure why Writer decided to spontaneously change my chart colors this way, but if any oo programmers happen to be reading, this might be a good thing to fix in the next release.

11 Responses to “How to change OpenOffice chart colors”

  1. RJ says:

    Thank you! I now officially am in love with you!

    You just made my day… Thanks again!

  2. bledsoe says:

    Aw shucks, it’s nice to be loved. I’m glad you found this helpful. It just about drove me crazy trying to figure it out.

  3. Lizzy says:

    Hi–I tried this and it initially looks like the colors are varied for each segment but when I save the file and close it, the multiple colors are lost and the chart becomes a solid color upon opening the file again. Do you have any suggestions? I’m using LibreOffice 3.4.4 on Ubuntu 11.10–Thanks =)

  4. bledsoe says:

    Hi Lizzy,

    I just tried creating a pie chart in Calc, pasting it in Writer, then changing the slice colors and saving; it’s been a while since I did this so I wondered if maybe something had changed in OpenOffice/Libre. Everything worked just as I expected, so I’m not sure why you’re having the problem you describe.

    One thing I noticed before I closed my test Writer file: when I went to click on the “save” icon, it was grayed out, as though there were no changes to save. I knew this couldn’t be the case as I had just spent the last minute or so changing all my pie slice colors. Then I realized that I still had my chart selected, and as soon as I clicked on the document (outside the chart), the “save” icon ungrayed, I clicked on it, then closed and re-opened the file. All my color changes were there as expected.

    Let me know if this helps.

  5. Steve Murphy says:

    Thanks for the tip. I messed around for a bit trying to get it done but it was just hit miss. Have a great summer!
    PS Did you make this site yourself?

  6. bledsoe says:

    Glad it was helpful, Steve, and yes, I did make the site myself. (WordPress.org with the Thesis theme.)

  7. Matt says:

    Thanks, really helps!

  8. Amanda Price says:

    Thank you so much! I’ve been trying to figure out for two hours how to change the color in my charts. OpenOffice Help did not help. This worked perfectly.

  9. bledsoe says:

    Hi Amanda! I had kind of hoped that the OpenOffice people would have updated this particular annoying feature by now, but apparently not. It’s good to know this post is still helpful.

  10. Teresa says:

    Thank you SO MUCH! This is my first time making a pie chart so I had no idea how to do any of it. It was fairly simple… until I tried to change the colors of the chart!

    BTW… I found it was a bazillion time easier when it was NOT in 3d Mode. I went to Simple Mode, changed the colors and then changed it back to 3D.

    Thanks for taking time to publish the tip – You Rock!

  11. bledsoe says:

    Thanks Teresa! I rarely use OpenOffice any more, but this post continues to get a fair bit of traffic and comments. Glad it was helpful for you.

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