14 Replies Latest reply: Apr 29, 2013 6:39 PM by Yellowbox
Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

Hi.  It appears there is no way to apply a set of border formats (border references, line style, point size, color) to selected cells.  Is that still true?  (I have Numbers 2.3 (554).)  Can this be done with Automator?  All I really need to be able to do is make outside borders, solid line, 2 pt, dark red, to about five hundred selections I will make by hand.


Thanks in advance.



MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012), OS X Mountain Lion, 16 GB RAM; 500 GB SSD; NEC; Munki
  • Yellowbox Level 6 (8,959 points)

    Hi Kirby,


    Select the cells. If you want borders on the whole table, select the table by clicking on its name in the Sheets pane on the left of the window.


    Open Inspector > Table

    Under Cell Borders you can choose left, middle, right, top, middle, or bottom borders.

    Or, choose all inside or all outside borders of the selected cells.

    Set border style, width and colour.


    Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 2.59.06 PM.png


    The Numbers'09 User Guide is available from the Numbers Help Menu. Type borders to search the Guide.




  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Yellowbox -- thanks for the lovely, clear explanation and, also, for the gentle handling.


    Sorry to report, even though I tried, I failed to be specific enough in my question.  I know how to apply the border I want.  My question is, is there any way to apply the entire set of formats, at once?


    Currently, it takes me _eight_ mouse-cursor clicks to apply a border to selected cells:

    - 2 clicks to specify which borders ("outside")

    - 2 clicks to specify the line style (regular)

    - 2 clicks to specify the point size ("2 pt")

    - 2 clicks to specify the color (dark red)


    Is there any way to apply these _at once_?  I expected to find some kind of "lift and paste borders", or "save/apply borders style".  I turned up nothing -- in fact, it seems this has been regularly asked about, which is why I worded the subject line of this thread the way I did.


    I have tried to use a macro to execute the eight clicks (I use Keyboard Maestro), but something in Numbers makes it work irregularly.


    Thanks again for your help.  My apologies, again, for not expressing myself well the first time.

  • jaxjason Level 4 (3,535 points)

    I only have my iOS device with me so i cant check this, but i know that Numbers desktop has Copy adn paste format in one of the menus. Doesnt this also copy broders? So if you had one set properly, you could paste that format onto anther range? 2 mouse clicks and 2  keyboard shortcuts (select range to copy from, KB shortcut to copy style, select second range to paste to, KB shortcut to paste).



  • Yellowbox Level 6 (8,959 points)

    Hi Kirby,


    Thanks for the feedback and clarification.


    I do not know how to copy and paste cell formats in Numbers.


    However! You can paste cell contents into a pre-formatted table. Here is a screenshot of a table without the red borders that you want. (I formatted cell borders to black to better show in the screenshot. Default is thin, grey lines that do not show in a printout, or a screenshot). Table contains number values in A and B and a formula in C


    Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 10.28.36 PM.png


    I copied those cells and then pasted them into a table that was preformatted as I think you want:


    outside borders, solid line, 2 pt, dark red

    Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 10.32.01 PM.png

    Note that the black cell borders in the original table did not replace the red cell borders when pasting.


    The preformatted (red border) table can be saved as a custom template to be used over and over again.


    So maybe not pasting cell formats can be used to advantage!




  • Jeff Shenk Level 4 (2,737 points)



    Copy Style and Paste Style are somewhat unreliable in that they don't necessarily know which borders should get the copied style.


    Since you have to go through the eight mouse clicks to define the style at least once, and since you are going to select the 500 ranges manually, it might save you some time if you hold the command key down while selecting the ranges so that you select all of them. You can then apply the styling to all of them at once.

  • Yellowbox Level 6 (8,959 points)

    Hi Kirby,




    Page 116 of the Numbers User Guide:



    Copying and Pasting Table Styles

    You can change a table’s appearance by copying and pasting table and table cell styles.

    Here are ways to copy and paste table styles: 

    To copy a cell’s style, select the cell and choose Format > Copy Style.

    To apply a copied cell style to other cells, select the cells and choose Format > Paste Style.





    Click in a cell that has your desired red borders (on all four sides if that is what you want).


    Format > Copy Style


    Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 11.26.47 PM.png

    Select the cells where you want the red border.

    Format > Paste Style


    Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 11.27.17 PM.png





    Message was edited by: Yellowbox. Sorry about the lousy layout, but that happens when pasting from User Guide

  • Jerrold Green1 Level 7 (29,960 points)



    In short, it's easy to paste expressions and values into a formatted table (Paste and Match Style), but not so easy to impose a format pattern onto existing calculations and data.


    So, I think if you go at it the other way around you will have more success. It may take some period of adjustment .



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Jeff Shenk, jaxjason, Yellowbox, Jerrold Green1 -- thank you all.


    (I'm going to reply here to everyone  .)


    Good suggestions.  Sad to report, I think I've hit a wall.


    1. If one selects non-adjacent cells, one cannot format the borders (the "Select Borders of Selected Cells" tool's options are grayed out).


    2. "Format➞Copy Style" _is_ unpredictable (by me) in whether it includes the border formatting in the style copied.  It seems to run strictly by majority: if 50% of the borders are formatted one way, it uses it.  Otherwise, it does not.  Unpredictable tools are not helpful.  I found no more on this in Numbers Help.  I am not currently on a fast enough line to download the User Manual PDF.


    3.  "Format➞Paste Style" applies the copied style (whatever it is) to _every single cell selected_.  I can find no way to apply the copied style to the _selection_ as a whole.  If I select a group of cells with a thick red outside border, copy the style, then select another group of cells and paste the style, every single selected cell is given a thick red border.  This functionality is useless for my needs.  I want to apply a border format to the group of selected cells, not to each cell in the selection.  Specifically, I want/need Numbers to recognize the outside border of a group of selected cells when using the "Paste Style" command.  It does seem able to do this.


    4.  Table Styles are applied to entire tables.  This, too, does not meet my need.  I am not trying to format the whole table (any more than I want to format each cell) -- I want to format just the outside border of a group of selected cells.


    5.  @JerroldGreen: (Greetings from the Golden Triangle )  I understand exactly.  I'm using Numbers to do something unorthodox.  I did not expect it to be the best tool for the job (but I did expect it to be a little better -- one other alternative is conditional formatting, but there are no border formats that can be used conditionally). In short, I'm already not using the program "correctly".  Changing my workflow won't help me meet my current need.


    Did I miss anything, or is this, indeed, a dead end?  I'm happy to hear other suggestions.  Thanks again for your help so far.  It hasn't solved my problem, but it has clearly delineated it, which is very helpful.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Ian -- thanks for this too.  I have posted a group reply.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Jerry -- thanks.  I have posted a group reply.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Jason -- thanks.  I have posted a group reply.



  • Jeff Shenk Level 4 (2,737 points)



    I guess I missed that when I tried it earlier, but it may not be as big a problem as it appears.


    Those settings are indeed grayed out. Apparently when you have multiple areas selected, it always applies your choice of line style and color to the outside edges of those areas. But that happens to be what you wanted anyway, so you may be able to use that. (And skip the first two clicks, as well.)



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Jeff -- had not noticed that.  Good news!  Thanks.

  • Yellowbox Level 6 (8,959 points)




    Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 11.37.39 AM.png