Beautiful borders and backgrounds in OpenOffice [or LibreOffice]

I received the following query from Melissa:

How do I create page borders that are nice, like ivy leaves or coloured swirly lines? All I can figure out are the straight black border lines.

Thanks, Melissa.

Personally, I’ve found that the border tool is generally only for variations on the straight border as you have mentioned.

There are two scenarios where I want a “fancy” border for my work – full page borders, and borders around specific items on a page. In both cases there are workarounds.

For the solutions below, they both require that you choose a suitable image for the background. A Google image search will result in some nice borders, or you can use services like (free stock) or (my personal fave for paid stock photography). Select a border that you like with either a coloured or transparent background

Full page borders

For the full-page borders, substitute your border image for the background image used in this tutorial. You then need to adjust your document page margins to ensure that you are working inside the image white space.

Borders around specific content

I use tables to address this. Tables allow you to use a background image.

I will generally use a 2×2 cell table for images where I have borders on 2 sides, and a 3×3 cell table for images where there are border patterns on all four sides.

Right click (or CMD-click) on the table and select “Table…”

Select the “Background” tab as pictured below.

Change the following:

Table properties box

Your image may initially appear squashed in the table, however as you change the width and height of the cells, the the table will resize, stretching your background back into shape.

An example is here:

Background border for table

I hope this helps you beautify your documents, Melissa.

Spell check does not work for Mac 2011

If you are having difficulties with spell check Mac in the new Office 365 suite, then it’s probably no surprise – especially if you’re not using Windows and not in the US. However I find that the advice provided on the MS website is actually working for me, so I’d suggest running through the first three steps below. And sometimes it has to be done on documents as you open them (every one). I was getting spell check errors for words like “advise” and “Australia”. Go figure. :(

If the steps below don’t work, you might need to try the other three methods (there are six in all) at the MS page on this issue.


Quickly See All the Formulas in Excel with This Shortcut


I’ve been flat out so haven’t updated this in a while – apologies to those who’ve used it as a resource. I came across this today, which has been timely as I needed some help with a pesky spreadsheet. Something wrong with some numbers in that spreadsheet? Lifehacker has a shortcut that displays all the […]

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Making Search Relevant and Recent (Getting Help that Helps!)


Often, when people search for information on the web, they put search terms into Google and click search. This is especially relevant to searching for solutions to software problems as you want the solution to apply to the version of software that you currently have (if you have the most up-to-date version). Unfortunately, this general […]

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Integrating Google Maps in your documents (taking screenshots)


A friend of mine recently asked how can he integrate a Google Map into his document. The easiest way to do this is using a screen shot, however it is important to note that if you are going to use a map from Google, you need to attribute it. According to my reading of this […]

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How to Extract Media from PowerPoint Files (works for both Windows and Mac)


Lately I’ve been receiving a number of files in pptx format, but I present using my iPad and so convert these presentations to Keynote. If the slides contain images and text only, this conversion is relatively painless – usually there are just a few formatting and alignment issues that need to be addressed and then […]

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FAQ: How to I change the default language in Word for Mac? [Word 2011]


With Office 2011 for Mac, you can check spelling and grammar in languages other than English. Word 2011 for Mac comes with foreign-language dictionaries such as Czech, French, Russian, and you can also change the ‘brand’ of English (UK, US, Australian). The default dictionary determines which language’s proofing tools Word uses for spelling and grammar. […]

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FAQ: How to Show Column A in LibreOffice Calc

I recently had a comment in response to FAQ: How to hide columns in Calc [Show / Hide] and decided to answer it with a video. It details two methods: A method in which you can show (unhide) all columns (this can be applied to rows), and  A method for unhiding column A alone  

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Changing case in Pages (iWork for Mac)


For my OpenOffice fans, my apologies for not posting on OOo or LibreOffice for a while, however I have been working in Pages for Mac recently. Just a quick tip as much for my own reference as for anyone else’s – for some reason I keep losing this reference. Changing the case of letters in […]

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Quick tip: Changing Spelling on a Single Document in Pages (for Mac)


To change the spelling for a document in Pages, select the text you wish to use (CMD-A if all text in the document). Then open the inspector, click on the ‘T’ for text. Then click on ‘More’ Then under the heading ‘Language’ select the dictionary you wish to use (see screen shot)

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