Numbers Tips

How to Format Cells According to Your Needs

One of the most common issues of Numbers (which is also present on MS Excel) is the way the application handles fields with numbers that are not always intended to be seen as numerical values. Take the example of screenshots shown below, where I typed 002715 but the spreadsheet displays only 2715. Not only does this happen when you type, but also when you import spreadsheet files from other apps.

Number as Data 1  Number as Data 2

Now, on Excel you can solve this by changing the format of the cells containing such numbers. On Numbers however, while similar, the solution is usually unfamiliar for users.

To change the basic cell format on Numbers, you have to click on the Inspector button on the app’s Toolbar and then on the Cells Inspector tab. Once there, select the cell, cells, rows or columns you want to change the format of and then click under Cell Format.


Numbers Cells Formatting

There, choose from the available formats until you find the one that suits your needs. In my example spreadsheet I selected the Text format to get the results below.

Cells Formatted as Text

Increase the Amount of Rows and Columns or Resize the Current Sheet With Just One Click

If you come from MS Excel, then you might be used to right-click on a set row or column to add more of them. Now, while you can do the same on Numbers (as shown on the screenshot below), there is a far more intuitive (and convenient) way.

Right Click for Adding Rows or Columns

What you have to do is just click on any of the “handles” located at the end of the sheet and drag them along. This will automatically increase the number of rows or columns to preserving the current set cell size.

Add Rows or Columns

Another nice advantage of Numbers being able to handle several independent sheets within a single page is that you can also use the corner handle of any sheet and drag it to increase the overall sheet size.

Increase Sheet Size

Tweak Your Charts by Switching Rows and Columns Intuitively

If you happen to work with charts on your spreadsheets, this Numbers tip will be like a godsend.

Numbers Chart

Click on any chart on your Numbers spreadsheet and then look at the data range where it comes from. You will see a small “List” button that, when clicked, will instantly switch the rows and columns on your chart to give you a different perspective on you current data.

Numbers Chart Column Type 1

Numbers Chart Column Type 2

MS Excel Users

Just as with Excel, the basic commands of Numbers are located at the top of every Numbers’ document on both its main Toolbar and its Formatting Toolbar.

The main toolbar of Numbers, as is the case with Pages, allows you to perform the most basic options, but is also home to more advanced elements that are usually not as easily accessible on Excel.

For example, the right side of the Toolbar lets you insert different kinds of elements to your spreadsheets, like text boxes, charts and shapes, as well as allowing you to bring up the all-important Inspector Panel and to adjust some of your spreadsheets’ fonts and colors.

Numbers Main Toolbar

The left side of the main Toolbar though, is home to a few far more interesting options. From there, you can access lists of the most important formulas and functions, as well as being able to change the view and overall layout of your spreadsheet. Additionally, the Reorganize button on the toolbar lets you access some really convenient sorting and filtering options with just one click.

Numbers Layout

Numbers Filters

The Format and Formula Bars, as expected, behave almost identically as on Excel. There you can adjust the cells’ borders, the alignment and format of the text and much more.

Format bar 1

Format bar 2

One of the major differences between Numbers and Excel though, is the left panel that is shown by default on Apple’s spreadsheet application.

Numbers Panes

This area of every Numbers’ document houses three different (and very useful) panes:

1. The Sheets Pane: This is the equivalent of sheets on Excel. The only exception is that in Numbers, you can have different sheets in one single page, and you can control and position each of them independently.

Sheets 1

2. The Styles Pane: As its name implies, you can use this pane to apply different styles to any sheet with just a click. What is even more, you can also create your own styles, save them and set the default style for all future sheets.

Sheets 2

3. The Instant Calculations Pane: This pane is as simple as it is convenient. It works just like the status bar on Excel when it shows the total of a group of values you select, only that Numbers shows five different operations at the same time instead of just one.


As mentioned above, one of the coolest features of Numbers is that you can have several sheets on one page and choose to arrange them and customize them independently. While it takes a bit to get used to, this feature provides a lot of flexibility, especially when working with smaller sets of data.

Multi Sheet

There you have them. The best thing about these tips? They will not take you more than just a few clicks, but they will save you tons of time and will help you look at spreadsheets with different eyes.