How to create spreadsheets in Numbers
Mac Life|September 2021
Numbers is a versatile and capable tool for creating budgets, lists, invoices, and more
KENNY HEMPHILL

WHEN IT COMES to spreadsheets and data–crunching applications, the Mac is still relatively poorly served.

If you don’t want to use Microsoft’s behemoth Excel (an application that began life on the Mac a full two years before the first Windows version), and would rather avoid web–browser-based tools like Google Sheets, then Numbers is by far the best option. Thankfully, Numbers is very good indeed when it comes to tasks like personal budgets, planners, invoicing, and pretty much anything that doesn’t involve macros code or the kind of enterprise-level automation at which Excel, well, excels.

Numbers’ great strength is in their ease of use and their templates. While basic, the templates are an excellent jumping-off point for creating your own spreadsheets, customizing them, and, in the process, learning how Numbers work. Many of its conventions are identical to those in Pages, including the way you import objects, such as images and style text. In this useful guide, we will show you exactly how to get started with a personal budget template, then get into more detail on data, formulas, and charts.

Create a spreadsheet in Numbers

Pages excel when it comes to making documents that really grab your attention

IN THIS TUTORIAL, we’ll show you how to use one of the Numbers’ standard templates to make your own personal budget. The template has two tabs: Budget and Transactions. The Transactions tab houses all the details of money spent during the period covered by the budget. These are allocated into categories. In the Budget tab, a table uses functions and formulas to add up the values of all the transactions in a given category and put them in a cell in the Actual column. For example, the Actual column in the Entertainment row looks for all the cells in the Transactions table where the category matches “Entertainment” and sums the value of the transactions.

The Budget column in the table in the Budget tab contains manually entered values. These are then compared with the Actual spend to calculate the Difference.

A doughnut chart is created from the Actual column, showing how the total spend is split across categories. And a bar chart displays the differences between budget amounts and the actual spend for each category.

EXPLAINED… Numbers’ interface

A MULTI TABS

Numbers spreadsheets can have multiple tabs. Their names are displayed at the top of the sheet.

B FORMULA BAR

The formula bar at the bottom of the sheet displays the formula or value for the selected cell.

C FORMAT

The Format sidebar in Numbers is very similar to the one in Pages, but with tabs for formatting tables and cells.

D TABLE OPTIONS

Reposition tables by dragging the circle (left); add rows or columns by clicking “||” (right).

1 Choose a template

Launch Numbers. Choose New Document to show the Template Chooser. Use the categories on the left to navigate the templates, then click on one and press Create. We’ve chosen Personal Budget.

2 Add your budget figures

The Personal Budget template has two tabs: Budget and Transactions. We’ll start by adding data to the Budget column. For each category, type in the max figure you want to spend.

3 Delete template entries

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