Merging Cells in Numbers

You can merge together adjacent cells to create one cell in a table. This is typically used for formatting, to provide a larger space to center a title over a group of cells. It typically isn't needed in Numbers, since sheets can contain multiple tables. So each group of data can be in its own table. However, to create spreadsheets that are compatible with Excel and other apps, using merged cells can be useful.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Merging Cells in Numbers.

Let's take a look at merging cells in Numbers. So here I have a typical Numbers spreadsheet starting off fresh. Let's zoom in a little bit so we can see the cells clearer. Each cell takes up one space. But we can merge two cells together by selecting both of them. So I'm going to use the Command key to select a second cell that's adjacent. I'm going to go to Table, Merge Cells.

This combines these into one cell. You can see there's no divider line between them now. When I click on it anywhere, the right side, the left side, it's just one big cell. When I enter something in it, it enters as regular text but notice that if I center the text, I'll go over here to Text, Center, it'll center it in the entire cell here. So I can Undo and I can get back to the starting point here.

I can choose two vertical cells. So two cells like that and I will do the same thing here. Merge Cells under Table and I will merge these two. I can type some text in there as well. I can center this vertically like that and I can do it horizontal and get it right in the middle there.

Now it works for more than just two. I can take all three of these cells, for instance, and merge those and I get one big cell. I can do it with a whole bunch of verticals and get one big cell. I can even do it with a block, horizontally and vertically into one big cell. So you can merge cells as long as they are next to each other horizontally or vertically or in a big block like this to create one single cell.

So what happens to the information in the cells when you do this. So for instance I'll put here a number in this cell and I will merge these two cells together. You can see it carries that number over into the cell. Now what happens if the number was in the second cell and there's nothing in the first one. The same thing happens. But what happens if it's in both cells. I have two numbers in there and I merge them. Well, it keeps both numbers but it converts the cells now to text. You can see at the bottom there it says it's a text cell and basically it's a tab between those two numbers. So it's just a piece of text now. So it basically does the best it can. If I were to actually do lots of cells, let me do these four here, then it would actually merge them all with tabs and returns and just create a block of text.
So it does the best it can but merged cells really aren't meant to be used for containing numbers.

So what are they for. Well, they're usually used for formatting. So let me show you an example here. If I go to the second sheet here I can see I have the spreadsheet where I have merged together all these cells here to create one big cell and I can center the text, the name of this set of data here, Store Inventory. It's very useful for centering the text like that.

I've done the same thing for this group here. I've merged the two cells at the top so I can center the text there and I've done the same there. So they're useful mainly for formatting. You could do the same for some on the left as well for like a group of things. So use them for formatting. Not really for calculations or anything else.

Now in Numbers why would you want to do this because, as I'll show you in Sheet 3 here, I've done the same thing but each one is a separate table. Now we often talk about things that Excel, Microsoft Excel, can do that Numbers cannot. But there are things that Numbers can do that Excel cannot. One of the things that Numbers does very well is have these sheets that have multiple tables on them. So it allows you to put your data into neat tables with header columns, header rows, and with titles. This is the actual title here not a cell. Numbers will let you do this really well so you never really need to use the merged cell functionality in Numbers. As a matter of fact I can't think of any reason that you would need to use it if you were just using Numbers.

However, a lot of times you create spreadsheets in Numbers that then somebody else is going to look at in Excel of in some other spreadsheet program that does not have this multiple table functionality. In that case constructing something like this maybe more useful, maybe more universal, across platform. So you may want to consider using it. Or you may simply be getting a spreadsheet that was converted from Excel or some other open format and now you're wondering why the cell is like that.

If you want to reverse the merge all you need to do is go to Unmerge Cells and it will convert them all to individual cells and put the information from the merged cell into the very first one.

Comments: 2 Responses to “Merging Cells in Numbers”

    2 years ago

    Where can I take a course to learn Numbers?

    2 years ago

    Rich: Look in the right sidebar here to see links to all of my courses, including one on Numbers.

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