Chapter 16. Creating a Numbers Spreadsheet

Don’t be fooled by its name: Numbers has a mind for math, sure, but the iWork spreadsheet program does much more than just crunch digits. If you’ve always thought of spreadsheets as the exclusive and arcane domain of the accounting department, think again. Numbers can juggle figures for the most demanding spreadsheet jockeys, but you can also use it to store and organize just about any kind of information.

A spreadsheet is a list machine: Use it for to-do lists, contact lists, event planning, team rosters, product inventories, invoices—anything you might put into a list or a table, you can put in a spreadsheet. And then Numbers can make your list dance. Once you’ve plugged in your data, Numbers can sort it, filter it, categorize it, or combine it with data from other lists. In other words, Numbers isn’t just a fancy calculator; you can use it as your own private database—a place to store, manipulate, and view data from all kinds of different angles.

Of course, Numbers can do math, too. When your data happens to take the form of digits—class grades, your check register, a valuation of assets minus depreciation—Numbers churns through your calculations, updating your totals as you add and edit data. The program knows more than 250 functions, feats of mathematical gymnastics that range from simple addition to complex accounting algorithms.

But all that is standard stuff, the basic work of spreadsheet programs for the last three decades. What’s ...

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