Is it possible to manipulate data in LibreOffice calc (spreadsheet) using terminal commands. I have a spread sheet with loads of data in csv format and i want to do data manuplation from terminal without opening libreoffice.

the csv contains 5 columns

A   B   C   D   E

in which i want to delete data in B, C and E column then copy data from D column to the B column.

Then in the empty C column at C5 location I want to add this equation =(B5*($B1/$A1)) and from C6 on wards till the end of data (C6:Cn) I want to run this code =((A6+B6)*C5)

Can these kind of manipulation can be done using only terminal commands?

This is the csv file

  • They can, but it's not going to be easy or clean. Can you use Calc's macro language instead or other tools like loading it into mySQL and exporting it again? – coteyr Jun 19 '15 at 10:39
  • Also have a look at awk/gawk it was basically made for this kind of thing. – coteyr Jun 19 '15 at 10:40

The easiest way is to save the file from libreoffice in a standardised CSV format, usually with "," as delimiter and quoting text in ("), and saving formulas as such. Your data should look like this:


You can then manipulate this with a simple awk command (for example). You can include formulas in the fields by beginning them with "=". For example,


You then read this .csv file back in libreoffice. Normally it should preserve the formulas.

Here's an example awk script to manipulate a file example.csv into file new.csv replacing the columns as you specified, with Cn having the formula ((An+Bn)*C5).

awk -F, <example.csv >new.csv '
NR<=4 { printf "%s,%s\n",$1,$4 }
NR==5 { printf "%s,%s,\"%s\"\n",$1,$4,"=(B5*(B1/A1))" }
NR>=6 { printf "%s,%s,\"=((A%d+B%d)*C%d)\"\n",$1,$4,NR,NR,5; }

You can convert the new.csv to .ods with:

libreoffice --convert-to ods new.csv

If your data contains "," and (") you need to change the delimiters used everywhere.

(To save cells with formulas as csv do: Save As, File type Text CSV, tick Edit Filter Settings, Save, Field options: tick Save cell formulas, tick Quote all text cells.)

I looked at your example data.csv file and in my discussion copied it to example.csv. I've removed line 1 "A,B,C,D,E" (the column headers) as this makes it harder to explain the correspondance of line numbers in the file to rows in the table. I did this with this sed command:

sed -i '1{/A,B,C/d}' example.csv

You can restore the header at the end if you need it with:

sed -i '1i\A,B,C' new.csv

If you want to actually do the formula arithmetic outside libreoffice you can do this in awk as follows. awk reads the data one row at a time and executes each command in {}. $1 gets set to column 1 and so on (as -F, means columns are separated by ","). We can save these values in an array indexed by the row number, eg A[NR]=$1 saves column 1 (column A) of row NR (current line) in array A. C[NR] can be set to the resulting calculation. We can then use these again in later lines:

awk -F, <example.csv >new.csv '
      { A[NR]=$1; B[NR]=$4 }
NR<=4 { printf "%s,%s\n",A[NR],B[NR] }
NR==5 { C[NR] = B[5]*(B[1]/A[1]); printf "%s,%s,%s\n",A[NR],B[NR],C[NR] }
NR>=6 { C[NR] = (A[NR]+B[NR])*C[5]; printf "%s,%s,%s\n",A[NR],B[NR],C[NR] }
  • I have edited the question and added the csv file download link to it – Eka Jun 19 '15 at 17:33
  • Sorry, I cant download the link. Edit your question to describe your problem further. – meuh Jun 19 '15 at 17:46
  • I have re uploaded in a different site. Now you will be able to download – Eka Jun 20 '15 at 4:30
  • 1
    Thanks for the data file. I've fixed and extended my answer. Still not clear on whether =((A6+B6)*C5) should change on each row, and if so how. – meuh Jun 20 '15 at 6:06
  • 1
    I've edited my answer to just leave the 2 answers with Cn=((An+Bn)*C5), both as a formula string, and doing the actual calculation in awk. When I read the resulting .csv file in libreoffice calc the result appears the same, apart from more floating point precision from the formulae. – meuh Jun 20 '15 at 13:37

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