Numbers Spreadsheet: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

January 9, 2024 2.5K views

In the digital age, data has become an integral part of our lives. We encounter it in various forms, and one of the most common ways to manage and analyze this data is through spreadsheets. Among the numerous spreadsheet applications available, Apple's Numbers stands out with its intuitive design and powerful features. However, despite its potential, many users still grapple with understanding its full capabilities.

Part 1. What is a Numbers Spreadsheet?

A Numbers Spreadsheet is a powerful tool developed by Apple, designed to help users manage, analyze, and visualize data in a tabular format. It's part of the iWork productivity suite, which also includes Pages (a word processing software) and Keynote (a presentation software). Numbers is available across all Apple devices, including Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and it's also accessible via iCloud on the web.

Key Features

  • Intelligent Tables: Unlike traditional spreadsheets, Numbers uses a flexible table-based approach. You can create multiple tables on a single canvas, each functioning independently.

  • Formulas and Functions: Numbers offers a wide range of built-in formulas and functions. Whether you want to perform simple arithmetic operations or complex statistical analysis, Numbers has got you covered.

  • Interactive Charts and Graphs: Visualizing data is a breeze with Numbers. It provides a variety of chart types, including bar, line, pie, and scatter plots.

  • Templates and Styles: Numbers comes with a variety of pre-designed templates for different purposes, such as budgets, invoices, and project planning.

  • Conditional Formatting: This feature allows you to automatically change the appearance of cells based on their values.

  • Collaboration and Comments: Numbers supports real-time collaboration, allowing multiple users to work on a spreadsheet simultaneously.

Part 2. Getting Started with Numbers Spreadsheet

Before you can start harnessing the power of Numbers, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics. This section will guide you through installing Numbers, creating a new spreadsheet, and exploring the user interface.

A. Installing Numbers on Different Platforms

Numbers is available on all Apple devices. If you're using a Mac, you can download Numbers from the App Store. For iPhone and iPad users, Numbers can be found in the iOS App Store. If you're using a non-Apple device, you can still access Numbers via Simply sign in with your Apple ID, and you can use Numbers in your web browser.

B. Creating a New Spreadsheet

Once you have Numbers installed, you can create a new spreadsheet. Open the application and select "New Document." You'll be presented with a variety of templates to choose from. Select one that suits your needs or choose a blank spreadsheet to start from scratch. Once you've made your selection, a new spreadsheet will open, ready for you to input your data.

Part 3. How to Use Numbers Spreadsheet

A. Starting with Numbers:

  • Open Numbers: Click on the Numbers icon (a green app with a white table) in the Dock or Applications folder.

  • Choose a Template: Numbers will show various templates (like Blank, Simple Budget, Personal Savings, etc.). Select one that suits your needs or start with a blank spreadsheet.

B. Sorting and Filtering Data

Here's is the guide of using sorting and filtering data

  • Sorting Data: Sorting allows you to arrange your data in a specific order, either ascending or descending, based on the values in a particular column.

  • First, select the column you want to sort by clicking on its header.

  • Then, go to the "Organize" button in the toolbar and select "Sort Ascending" or "Sort Descending" from the dropdown menu. Your data will be immediately rearranged based on your selection.

  • Filtering Data: Filtering allows you to display only the rows in your table that meet certain criteria, which can be particularly useful when working with large datasets.

  • To apply a filter, first select the column you want to filter by clicking on its header.

  • Then, go to the "Organize" button in the toolbar and select "Filter" from the dropdown menu.

  • In the filter window that appears, you can define your filter criteria. For example, you might choose to display only rows where the value in your selected column is greater than a certain number.

  • After defining your criteria, click "Done." Only the rows that meet your criteria will be displayed in the table.

C. Creating and Customizing Tables

Tables are at the heart of any spreadsheet, and Numbers offers a variety of options for creating and customizing tables to suit your needs. Here's how you can do it:

  • Creating a Table: To create a new table, click on the "Table" button in the toolbar at the top of the screen. You'll see a dropdown menu with a variety of table templates.

  • Adding and Deleting Rows and Columns: To add a row or column, click on the table to select it. Then, click on the circle that appears at the end of a row or column and drag it to add more rows or columns.

  • Resizing Rows and Columns: To resize a row or column, hover your cursor over the boundary between two row headers or two column headers until it turns into a double-sided arrow. Then, click and drag to adjust the size.

  • Formatting Tables: Numbers offers a variety of formatting options to customize the look of your tables. With a table selected, click on the "Format" button in the toolbar. .

  • Entering Data: To enter data into your table, simply click on a cell and start typing. You can navigate between cells using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

D. Creating Custom Templates

Templates can save you a lot of time by providing a preformatted starting point for your spreadsheets. While Numbers comes with a variety of built-in templates, you might find that you often need to make the same modifications to these templates. In such cases, creating a custom template can be a great solution. Here's how you can do it:

  • Create a New Spreadsheet: Start by creating a new spreadsheet. You can start from scratch or modify one of the built-in templates. Add tables, charts, text, and images as needed, and format everything to your liking.

  • Save as Template: Once you're happy with your spreadsheet, you can save it as a custom template. Go to the "File" menu at the top of the screen, select "Save as Template," and give your template a name. Your custom template will be saved in the "My Templates" category of the template chooser.

  • Using Your Custom Template: The next time you create a new spreadsheet, you can start with your custom template. In the template chooser, click on the "My Templates" category, and select your custom template. A new spreadsheet will open with your template's formatting and content, ready for you to input your data.

Part 4.  Pros and Cons of Using Numbers Spreadsheet

Pros of Using Numbers Spreadsheet

  • User-Friendly Interface

  • Compatibility with Apple Devices

  • Collaboration

  • Visual Appeal

  • Data Analysis and Visualization

  • iCloud Sync

  • Exporting and Sharing Options

Cons of the Numbers spreadsheet

  • Limited Compatibility

  • Add-Ons and Extensions

  • Limited Collaboration Options

  • Integration with Third-Party Apps

  • Availability on Non-Apple Devices

Part 5.  Best Alternative to Numbers Spreadsheet - WPS Office

WPS Office Spreadsheet is a versatile and user-friendly spreadsheet application that is compatible with a wide range of devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. It offers a similar feature set to Numbers, with some additional benefits:

Features of WPS Office

Key features of WPS Spreadsheet include:

  • Compatibility: WPS Office Spreadsheet is highly compatible with both Microsoft Excel and Numbers, allowing you to open, edit, and save files in these formats without losing formatting or data.

  • Advanced Features: WPS Office Spreadsheet includes a variety of advanced features, such as pivot tables, data validation, and a wide range of statistical functions.

  • Templates: WPS Office Spreadsheet comes with a large library of templates for various purposes, from budgeting and project management to data analysis and reporting.

  • Collaboration: WPS Office Spreadsheet supports real-time collaboration. You can share your spreadsheets with others and work together on the same document, with changes synced in real time.

  • Cloud Support: WPS Office includes 1GB of free cloud storage with WPS Cloud, allowing you to access and edit your spreadsheets from any device.

  • Free Version: WPS Office offers a free version of its software, making it a cost-effective alternative for individuals and small businesses.

WPS Spreadsheet aims to provide users with a comprehensive spreadsheet solution, offering essential features for data management, analysis, and collaboration in a user-friendly interface.

WPS Office- Free All-in-One Office Suite
  • Use Word, Excel, and PPT for FREE, No Ads.

  • Edit PDF files with the powerful PDF toolkit.

  • Microsoft-like interface. Easy to learn. 100% Compatibility.

  • Boost your productivity with WPS's abundant free Word, Excel, PPT, and CV templates.

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Algirdas Jasaitis

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can Numbers Spreadsheet Has Collaborative Feature?

Yes, Numbers does indeed have a collaborative feature. This allows multiple users to work on the same spreadsheet simultaneously, making it a valuable tool for team projects or any situation where multiple people need to input or edit data in the same document.

To use the collaboration feature in Numbers, you need to share the document with others. Here's how you can do it:

  • Open the spreadsheet you want to share.

  • Click on the "Collaborate" button in the toolbar at the top of the screen.

  • In the window that appears, you can choose how you want to send the invitation.

2. Are numbers more powerful than Excel?

Whether Numbers is more powerful than Excel largely depends on your specific needs and use cases. Both are robust spreadsheet applications with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Microsoft Excel is often considered the gold standard in spreadsheet software, particularly for business and professional use. It offers a wide range of advanced features and functions, including pivot tables, data analysis tools, and support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros. Excel is also widely used in many industries, so compatibility and familiarity can be an advantage in a professional setting.


As we read the article it is highly recommended to use WPS Office, it is a comprehensive office suite that includes a powerful spreadsheet tool. WPS Office Spreadsheet is compatible with a wide range of devices and offers a similar feature set to Numbers, with some additional benefits.

Moreover, WPS Office offers a free version of its software, making it a cost-effective alternative for individuals and small businesses. Numbers is a powerful tool for Apple users but WPS Office Spreadsheet offers a compelling alternative for those who need a more platform-agnostic solution or require features not available in Numbers.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.