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Numbers Auto-Fill and Print View

I just tried to make something in Numbers for the first time – a race results sheet for a race I’m organizing. The sheet is tremendously simple – just a grid with finish places pre-filled in the left-most column. I’m no spreadsheet expert, but I was initially boggled by the lack of a Fill Down command in Numbers. After a quick trip to the help, I discovered it was just a matter of entering 1 in the first cell, typing =A1+1 in the second cell, selecting the second cell, and then dragging down to the bottom of the table. Elegant, if completely undiscoverable.

The next task was to figure out how to get my sheet to print reasonably. Fiddling with the print settings in the inspector helped a little, but it wasn’t until I went to the View menu and chose Show Print View that I was able to tweak column widths and the table length and see instantly whether my sheet would print on one page. It’s a good interface, and I found it easily after I got past the print-preview-tweak cycle to which I’m accustomed.

So despite some consternation at having to visit the help to learn about auto-fill, Numbers worked well and did exactly what I wanted without too much fuss. Could I have performed the task more quickly in Excel? I’ve always found Excel quite daunting, and although this was within my skill set, I might have run into some unforeseen obstacle.

Update: Thanks to Michael Kaltenecker and Beverly Martin for tipping me off to even easier auto-filling in Numbers that doesn’t require a formula. It turns out that Numbers is extremely clever, and all you have to do is give it enough data work with and it will automatically figure out the necessary steps. So, for instance, if you enter 1 in A1 and 2 in A2, select both cells, and then hover over the lower right corner of A2 until the cursor changes to a black plus sign, you can then drag the selection down and cause Numbers to fill in 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Enter 1 and 3, and drag down, and you’ll get only odd numbers. Enter Monday and drag down, and you’ll get the days of the week. Enter 01-Sep-07 and drag down, and you’ll get all the
dates that follow. You can even enter 01-Sep-07 and 08-Sep-07, and drag down to get a cell for each seven days.

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