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Why You Should Be Using LibreOffice, a Free, Open-Source Alternative to Microsoft Office

I am a software engineer, designer, and overall computer nerd with over 9+ years of experience in the field.

LibreOffice

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LibreOffice is pretty popular, and for good reason too: It's a free, open-source office suite that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Since it's open-source and not a proprietary product, it has the added security in that all aspects of the LibreOffice products are listed in their documentation, while corporate-run products may collect user data.

Other advantages of LibreOffice include support for a wide range of legacy file types, as well as modern Microsoft and Apple file types such as .docx and .pages. The suite also includes a variety of different applications, including applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing and diagrams, databases, and formula editing.

The Costs of Microsoft Office

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Microsoft Word may have been exciting in the 1980s and 90s, but it and other Microsoft Office products like Excel and PowerPoint have rapidly been outpaced by newer, more modern applications built for the 21st Century. Not only is it outdated, but by buying into Microsoft's products the corporation takes free reign in pressuring you into upgrading, buying another product, buying another add-on... So why not use open-source? Not only are open-source applications free to download and use, but they're created and maintained by a group of people who really care about the project and have the creative freedom to add new features and functions.

Unless you happen to have a copy of Microsoft Office from work or school, the monetary costs are pretty high: $149.99 for the basic Office Home & Student, and up to $439.99 for Office Professional. Upgrading to Microsoft Office 365 isn't much better, given that it relies upon a subscription-based model.

The costs would be understandable if the products promised were robust, highly sophisticated applications, but flagship products such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are notoriously outmoded. Formatting in Word is painful, Excel isn't great for analyzing data, and PowerPoint presentations don't look good. How about another option?

Writer

For anything from a simple note to a lengthy encyclopedia, Writer has you covered. This word processor comes with extensive styling capabilities and allows for custom fonts, plus it includes support for diagrams, indexes, and much more. Writer comes pre-packaged with an auto-correct dictionary that can find spelling mistakes as you type, in addition to an auto-complete feature that'll have you finishing each other's sentences. Multiple languages are also supported, and Writer comes bundled with a variety of document templates already built for you.

Calc

For the more numerically-minded LibreOffice offers the spreadsheet program Calc, built for everyone from absolute beginners to more advanced data analyzers. Calc spreadsheets come with a wide range of styling and formatting options, in addition to pre-made templates. The program even comes with a solver component that can calculate optimization problems, and a Scenario Manager for "what if" analysis. Calc also supports collaborative work through sharing spreadsheets with other users, and can open and save as Excel files as well as its own native file format.

Impress

Want to impress your audience with a great presentation? Then look no further than LibreOffice's presentation-creating program Impress. With Impress, you can create and edit the slides, outline, notes, and even a handout for a project all in one place. A great deal of control is given to the user over the slide show mode, with options such as timed slide transitions, multiple monitors, and the Presenter Console. Templates are available for download, and there's a huge range of customization available through drawing and diagram tools, animations, effects, and even 3D scenes.

Draw

For the artists within us, LibreOffice offers the drawing and diagramming program Draw. This program supports an array of uses, from simple sketches to more complex plans and technical drawings. Draw is also built for the creation of flowcharts, organization charts, and network diagrams, in addition to image conversion features.

Base

For those of us who are swimming in pools of data there is Base, LibreOffice's database. For ordinary users, Base comes with a built-in relational database engine and beginner's guides, in addition to pre-defined table definitions. For more high complexity tasks, Base provides drivers for several database engines such as MySQL and Adabas D, as well as support for JDBC- and ODBC-standard drivers for connecting to other database engines.

Math

Math is a equation and formula editor that can create formulas to be inserted into text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and so on. It can be accessed both as a standalone application, or directly from another LibreOffice product.

Give it a Try!

If you're used to using Microsoft Office or other products, you may be a bit hesitant to try something new. But why not give it a try? LibreOffice is completely free, with pages and pages of documentation for each application available online. Plus, the project is being developed and maintained by a community of people who genuinely care about their work and want to continually improve the office suite to be the best it can be. Take a look!

Comments

Caden Williamson (author) from Greater Boston Area, USA on November 23, 2020:

Thanks for reading!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 23, 2020:

Thanks for this useful information.

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