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Create and Manage Spreadsheets with Numbers for iPad

Like the other apps in the iWork for iPad suite, Numbers was created exclusively for the Apple iPad. Best-selling author and avid iPhone/iPad user Jason Rich shows you how to make full use of the iPad’s touch screen for creating, manipulating, and viewing your spreadsheet data.

When the abacus was first put into use sometime between 2700 and 2300 BC, it’s doubtful that the Sumerians ever dreamed of the mathematical calculations that would someday be possible, and that those calculations would be done on a digital tablet such as the Apple iPad. In the much more recent past, spreadsheet software has also evolved dramatically, further advancing how we manipulate numbers and perform mathematical calculations.

The most recent evolution in spreadsheet software came about with the introduction of Numbers for iPad, which is simply the most powerful spreadsheet app ever created for any mobile device. Yet, while this Apple iPad app allows users to perform extremely complex math, while displaying the results with visually stunning tables, charts and graphs, Numbers is surprisingly simple and intuitive to use.

Using Numbers for iPad, it’s easy to create and manipulate tables and charts that incorporate text, photos, and graphics, while at the same time handling extremely complex mathematical calculations quickly, accurately, and intuitively. Priced at $9.99 and available from the App Store, Numbers is fully compatible with its Mac counterpart, Numbers for Mac (which is part of Apple’s iWork suite of business applications), as well as Microsoft’s Excel for PC and Mac.

Thus, spreadsheets created on your desktop or laptop computer can easily be transferred to your iPad, while spreadsheets created from scratch on the iPad can be exported, yet retain full compatibility when loaded into the Mac version of Numbers, or the PC or Mac version of Excel. This app was created from the ground up to be used with Apple’s touch-screen display, so all of the menus, commands, and functions are easily accessible and usable, literally with the tap, twist, or drag of a finger.

Numbers for iPad is an extremely robust application with an unlimited number of ways it can be utilized by anyone needing to crunch numbers, manage and manipulate numeric data, create reports, or transform complex numeric data into easy-to-understand and visually pleasing tables, charts, and graphs.

Numbers for iPad Features

In an effort to keep the app simple to use, it comes with 16 templates that can be fully customized to handle a wide range of work-related tasks, including loan comparisons, budgets, expense reports, invoices, and employee scheduling. However, as easy as it is to customize a template, if you’re already familiar with how spreadsheets work, creating your own from scratch is a straightforward process.

One nice feature of Numbers for iPad is that it’s possible to create and maintain large and complex spreadsheets, spread them out over multiple pages, and easily access each of them using on-screen tabs. When it comes to entering data into your spreadsheets, the iPad’s virtual on-screen keyboard adapts. So, when numbers or digits need to be entered, a numeric keypad is automatically displayed. There’s also a separate virtual keyboard displayed when entertaining formulas. If date and time data needs to be entered, the keyboard again changes accordingly, as it does when text is being inputted.

As you’re designing your spreadsheets, you can tap the power of Number’s calculation engine, which has 250 calculations already built-in, each of which has a help menu associated with it. When it comes to displaying your data graphically, you can choose from nine fully customizable types of charts and graphs.

Once you’ve selected your chart type[md]say a pie chart[md]you can select from a handful of pie chart styles, pre-created in various color combinations, to easily match your template or the overall look of the document, report, or presentation you’re creating.

The charts, tables, and graphs you create using Numbers for iPad can easily be copied and pasted into Pages documents or Keynote digital slides, and easily used within extremely professional-looking reports or presentations that are all created on your iPad. With Numbers, every element of a chart, for example, can be fully customized using different fonts, type sizes, and visual effects.

Another use of Numbers for iPad is as a powerful data collection tool. Once a spreadsheet is created for collecting customized data, the Forms functionality built in to this app will allow you to quickly enter specialized data, in exactly the format you need while on the go. Simply hold the iPad like a clipboard and enter your data in the appropriate fields. Then, allow Numbers to crunch the numbers as needed, and display the results using perfectly formatted tables, charts, or graphs.

Since the iOS 4.2 operating system upgrade for the iPad was released from Apple in November 2010, the iPad is now capable of wireless printing. This makes it even easier to create hard copies of your spreadsheets and related data. Although even without wireless printer connectivity, you can easily email your spreadsheet files, charts, or graphics to others in a variety of formats, including PDF. Those same files can also be shared via iWork.com, MobileMe, or another compatible online file-sharing (cloud) service. Syncing with iTunes is also a method for moving spreadsheet files between a PC or Mac computer and the iPad.

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