Getting It Right With Numbers Templates

The built-in templates in the iWork application Numbers allows you to quickly create documents to monitor everything from mortgage payments to checking accounts.  In addition they can be modified to meet individual needs without sacrificing the built-in formulas. In this week's column, I want to show you how useful those templates can be, and how easy they are to work with.

First, some background: Numbers is one of the 3 applications included in the iWork package.  The other two are the Keynote presentation solution and the word processor Pages, and the whole iWork package costs $79.

Numbers is a spreadsheet application, and that's what we're here to talk about today.  While similar to Excel, Numbers is not as sophisticated, meaning you can not perform extensive formulas in Numbers.  For the average user, however, Numbers is more than sufficient as a spreadsheet application.

One of the benefits of all three applications are the built-in templates.  I have  used templates extensively in both Keynote and Pages, but my use of them in Numbers has been somewhat limited, because I had not investigated the options.  

Well, whoo hoo, the formulas are built in to the templates, so if there is a template that meets your needs, you are half way home.

A couple of weeks ago I was appointed a Federal Fiduciary for a Veterans Administration beneficiary.  There are strict rules about how these funds can be spent and at the end of the first year there will be an audit.  OK.  I worked for the government for 30 years.  I used to write rules.  I know about audits.  No grass is going to grow under my feet, no sirreebob!  I will have a  spread sheet ready for that audit that does everything but sing and dance.

I knew what I wanted the spread sheet to look like (I thought) so I opened Numbers and started to create a document from scratch and then remembered the templates and decided to check them out.  Among the 28 template options, I found the perfect template.  It displayed  information I had not even considered, but was perfect for my presentation, and all the formulas were included.  Within ten minutes I had my spreadsheet ready to go.

From the Personal Finance category I choose Checking Register as the template I wanted.

Numbers Check Register Template

Then I proceeded to modify it to meet my needs.  (This sample account information does not reflect any of the personal or financial information for the account I am managing.)  I changed the categories to the ones I needed and added a column in the table for Receipts.  All that was involved in making the changes in the categories was to highlight the words and enter new text.  

To add the new column, I clicked inside the table so that it was the active element and then selected Table from the menu bar and then selected Add Column Before (or After) the column I wanted it next to.  In my case, I clicked on the Description column and chose Add Column Before.  Then I adjusted the sizes of the columns so that the table stayed an appropriate size.  To do that run your cursor over the gray bar at the top of the table.  When the cursor changes to a plus sign, (it will be on the edge of a column), hold down the mouse and move it to the left or right to adjust the size of the column.  Repeat with other columns as necessary.

Sample Numbers Form With Modifications

Now, every time I write a check or use the debit card, the entry goes on the spreadsheet and the receipt goes in a heavy metal box.  My computer is backed up every night, but once a month I will print out the spreadsheet and put it, and the accumulated receipts in my safety deposit box.

And, no, I am not going overboard.  Remember that I said I used to write those rules?  All government rules are the same in the end.  Every time they go up a step for review someone adds something else.  

So that is my experience with a Numbers template.  If you have iWork I recommend that you check them out and see what might meet your needs to perfection.  If you don’t have iWork, you really should consider getting it.  It is a wonderful addition to your Mac bag of tricks and allows a beginner to be all that much more independent.


The latest version of my manual for beginners and experienced beginners has just been published and can be ordered as noted below.  

The first is the more traditional printed book format, spiral bound. Cost is U.S. $17.15 each, plus shipping. All the illustrations have been printed in black and white to reduce the purchase price.


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Payment for any version must be made using PayPal. Clicking on the Buy Now button next to the version you want to purchase will take you directly to PayPal where you can place your order and make your payment. Payment can be made through PayPal even if you are not a PayPal member.

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