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pickorder for cell outlines? ack.

372 Views 5 Replies Latest reply: Sep 15, 2013 9:55 PM by Barry RSS
hotwheels 22 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Sep 11, 2013 4:15 PM

i have been having a devil of a time with outlining cells in numbers. every time i get a chance to use this i feel like someone is playing some kind of three card monty with me.


does anyone know what i am talking about?


if i try and use the tools in the bar at the top i always end up thinking that there must be some kind of pick order sequence that i am not understanding since only about 1 in six times can i get a outline in black of my cells.


i have also been using the Inspection box and this seems a little better but the color always (on both) seems to default to some kind of gray or white so i am endlessly going back and forth and selecting black and then hitting the pulldown for THIN LINE (or whatever it is) and then hitting the box for outline of cells and inside of cells (or just outline of cells) and then it show up as doing something but the lines are white or gray and i have to go back and select black and then i try and figure out what i did wrong and once in a blue moon i get it right.


this is a major PAIN since i am usually using this tool to put /back/ lines that i lost when i had to run a NO OUTLINE command so that i could fix lines which were where they shouldn't be but which but up against cells that /should/ have lines and then it is like a rabbit going down a hole chasing it's own tail or something.


also, is there some command that will do a OUTLINE THIS SELECTION but REMOVE ANY LINES INSIDE THIS SELECTION command? i mean, like a simpler way to get an outline without going in and gettng rid of lines that i didn't want in the first place? or - well - maybe a command that says "KEEP THESE CELLS OUTLINED AS DESCRIBED unless i specifically select them (not including a select all commmand) and actively change them" command? i mean, like something that would leave the highlighted bold cells or the colored cells but let me change the rest? seems like i do a lot of fixup which gives me major carpal tunnerl working with the software unless i am misunderstanding something.


i realized recently that i have two or three command that did this to me in photoshop and some of the long time users were able to help me out with these. so maybe i am missing a good command or two with all of this...


THANKS for any tips.

MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.1)
  • Barry Level 7 Level 7 (29,095 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 11, 2013 5:39 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    HI hw,


    Work through the buttons from left to right:


    Choose which border(s) you want to set.


    Choose the type of stroke you want (thin, solid, dashed, dotted)


    Choose the thickness of the line (not avaiable for 'thin')


    Choose the colour of the line.


    Thin borders do not show colour well, even though the chosen colour is applied to them.




    Formattng the Outside border and formatting the inside borders of a selected group of cells are separate tasks. Formatting of the contents of a cell and the fill coour are also separate from formatting the border(s). see example below.

    Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 5.36.56 PM.png

    Note cell B4. This has medium dark green borders, but they are 'thin', and do not show well even in this screen shot of a 200% scale view of the table.




  • Barry Level 7 Level 7 (29,095 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 12, 2013 9:08 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    I don't know that this is any shorter, but if you are frequently formatting a block of eight cells i the same anner, you might try setting up a template in which a block of eight is formatted the way tyou want them.


    When using the same format (1 pt blackoutlight, no internal cdll borders) in a new document:


    Open the template.

    Select the eight cell block.

    Press option-command-C to copy the format of the cells.

    Switch to the existing document.

    Select the eight cell block to be formatted.

    Press option-command-V to paste the format.

      (Note that ALL borders in the selection will be formatted like the outline in the original—

       the pasted format has been applied to eah cell, not to the block.)

    With th cells still selected, choose Inside borders from the first button.

    Set the Line Type to 'none' with the second button.



    As the format paste has the fault mentioned, you could format only a single cell in the template with a full border. Copy the format from that cell, then select the block of cells to get the outline in the existing document, Paste the format (with the same results as above), then continue with the last two steps above to remove the internal borders.


    A & B: The selection button does exactly what it says/shows it will do: Select the borders to be formatted. The formatting is applied to the selected borders. No change is made to the borders not selected.


    You might take a look at Automator. You may be able to use Automato to assemble the set of actions needed to set the outside borders of a selection to a specified thickness and colour, then set the inside borders of the selection to another thickness and colour (or to 'none'). It's not something I've explored, though.


    Or it might be possible to accomplish this using an AppleScript. Again, not something I've explored.




  • Barry Level 7 Level 7 (29,095 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2013 9:55 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    Hi hw,


    The default colour for the grid isn't changeable. The rhyme or reason behind the colour is that it's a design choice, just as the default fill colour of header rown and columns, and the fact the column and row reference tabs are visible only (and always) when the a cell in the table is selected are design choices. Border colours default to the grid colour IF no border colour has been set. IF a border colour has ben set, it overrides the grid colour, and becomes the default border colour for the cells on which it has been set.


    You can set a different 'starting' colour for individual, groups of or all cells in a table, set any other parameters you want to always apply to new documents, then save that document as a template. Any document opened from that template will have those starting parameters.


    As noted in my earlier post, the format of a cell can be copied independent of its contents, using Copy Style or the keystroke equivalent option-command-C, then pasted into one or more contiguous cells using Paste Style or option-command-V.


    As the format is applied to the individual cells within the group, all cell borders will be formatted if the cell's 'outside' borders have been formatted. To convert that to an outline, choose internal borders and 'none' from the border format controls in the format bar.


    Note that any size rectangular array of cells can be given an outline border with no inner borders using the same series of steps—you're not restricted to, for example, a four by two array.


    Regarding going back to MS Office and Excel for your spreadsheet needs: As I said in your separate question on this topic, your best path is to use the tool that's best for the job. If there are features in Excel that you use and need which are not available in Numbers, that may be enough to tip the balance for your case.





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