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iWork: The Missing Manual by Josh Clark, Jessica Thornsby

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Chapter 22. Designing Your Spreadsheet Report

From their very first appearance on personal computers in the late 1970s, spreadsheet programs have always treated numbers so…seriously. VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Excel—these programs have all presented spreadsheets exclusively as relentless grids of rows and columns. This blandly straightforward approach has the benefit of putting an unwavering focus on the data: You’ve got grids of numbers, and you’ve got charts of numbers—and that’s it. It’s all about the data.

When Numbers came along, it introduced something completely new, and almost unthinkable, to the spreadsheet world: design. Numbers blows up the idea of the grid as the single defining design element of a spreadsheet document. While every other major spreadsheet program presents just one grid per worksheet, Numbers lets you have as many tables as you like, arranging them on the canvas wherever they suit you. Instead of treating graphics as an afterthought like other spreadsheet programs do, Numbers gives you the same effortless access to media and design elements that you find in Keynote or Pages.

As the previous chapters have demonstrated, Numbers’ tables can work a grid with the best of them, giving single-minded attention to your data and calculations when that’s what you’re up to. But Numbers can also see beyond the data to the overall design of the document, making it easy to create eye-catching presentations. Apple’s message: The fact that your data is serious doesn’t ...

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