Using Different Types of Data

Numbers has a discriminating nose for data. It can sniff out the difference, for example, between numbers and names in your grade book, or between dates and checkboxes in your to-do list. For Numbers, this data detection isn’t just a fussy party trick, it’s a job requirement. When you start sorting your data down the road and, especially, when you start building formulas and charts based on your data, Number has to know when you’re giving it numbers to crunch, text to sort, or dates to schedule. Numbers sees the world in five shades of data:

  • Ordinary text. This data type includes headings, notes, descriptions, or any text that Numbers can’t place as one of the other data types.

  • Numbers. This data type is the main ingredient of most spreadsheets and includes prices, integers, fractions, percentages, and any other type of numeric data. Numbers offers lots of different display options for numbers.

  • Dates and times. This data type includes calendar dates (like December 6, 2009), time of day (like 12:26 p.m.), and the combination of both (December 6, 2009, 12:26 p.m.). You can enter and display this info in a variety of formats.

  • Time duration. A length of time, like weeks, hours, or even milliseconds.

  • True or false values.This on-or-off data type is also known in nerd circles by its chirpier name, Boolean values. Behind the scenes, these values are either TRUE or FALSE (in all caps), but you’ll typically see them in Numbers spreadsheets as a simple checkbox (see ...

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