Beautiful Spreadsheets? You Can, Too! Design Your Own Numbers Template | Moly Yim | Skillshare

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Beautiful Spreadsheets? You Can, Too! Design Your Own Numbers Template

teacher avatar Moly Yim, Creative Warrior

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. Colors: Design Ahead of Time

    • 3. Fonts: Don’t Default

    • 4. Typographic Contrast

    • 5. Spreadsheet Constraints

    • 6. Choosing a Font for Body Cells

    • 7. Setting Up

    • 8. Applying Colors

    • 9. Applying Fonts

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About This Class


For most designers and visual people, the word 'spreadsheet' can invoke anxiety attacks, rage, and in some cases, even murder (okay…maybe just in dream state).

How can we, as a global species, prevent such tragedies from ever happening?

Let's start by putting the beautiful back into spreadsheets.

"Back?" you ask, incredulously, "I didn't ever think it was ever there to begin with."

Truth doth thou speak! However, there are plenty examples of tables being used in editorial design, for example, that are very well done. Why haven't we brought that same taste into spreadsheet design?

This course will teach you, using Apple Numbers, how to do that. The principles taught here can also be applied to Excel or Google Docs, but Numbers provides the most ease and flexibility in terms of design.

For business folk who already sweat in numbers, this course can help you level up your spreadsheet artistry which you'll be able to use in your pitch deck presentations, blog posts, and social media!

After all, just because you're working with data, doesn't mean it has to be dastardly.

Meet Your Teacher

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Moly Yim

Creative Warrior


With a strong background grounded in branding, marketing, and advertising, Moly has nearly a decade of experience in creative strategy spanning web, mobile, and print design.

He currently freelances as a web and graphic designer at to various clients across the nation and has contributed to building a diverse set of brands, from entrepreneurial startups to some of the world’s biggest brands such as Harvard, National Geographic, Virgin, and Warner Brothers.

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1. Trailer: Hi there. My name is Liam, your teacher for beautiful spreadsheets. You can to design your own number. Symbol it in this class. We're gonna learn how to quickly and easily transform any spreadsheet from a plain boring data set into beautiful tables you can use in your infographics. Your block poster presentations will have you. All right. Cool. Let's get started. 2. Colors: Design Ahead of Time: Okay. Now, with any design project, it's always best to decide what colors and fonts you want to use before you even open numbers or lease. Have a general idea for colors and phones. You can always tweet details later on. If you're designing for a client or yourself, this part should be easy. You just had to pull up the colors from the official brand guide. If you don't have an existing brand to work from the place, Look for, of course, is Pinterest just site color scheme or color palette, with a key word that evokes a look you're going after and you'll be presented with a ton of great options. For example, let's try 19 fifties color scheme. Okay, awesome. Now I've got endless options to choose from. Designing is set of colors for schemes, a whole other topic for another course, so I won't go into too much detail. But the keys to pick a scheme that has a lot of contrast. There should be at least one really light color. It's a pair against one really dark color that is gonna be helpful with legibility, as you'll see later on. For my project, I'm going to stick with the brand colors of my design agency treasure. And as you can see, the darkest color is this cool gray, and the lightest color is a light military green. Now that we have a set of colors, let's move on to Fonds. 3. Fonts: Don’t Default: so the first thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to default to the defaults. What does that mean? Well, as practical font that Helvetica is, which is the font that is automatically chosen for you when you create a new numbers document, it may not express the essence of what you want to communicate. And if you're using Excel, the default fonts is calibrate. But of course, because Excel is more popular, this is generally the standard look that we see when somebody wants a present tabular data from a spreadsheet. But it doesn't have to be this way. There's so many more options for incredibly expressive fonts out there that can eloquently express the point you're trying to communicate through data. Remember, just because it's data doesn't mean it has to be boring. Don't just present data with numbers presented with effective typography and colors as well . You'll be much more effective and making the point you want to make by doing so. 4. Typographic Contrast : Now, what I said about picking colors also applies to picking fonts, one that designing a typographic palate like a color palette could fill an entirely separate course. Some only gonna cover the absolute basics here. And two, If you're designing for a client or yourself, you just have to pull the funds from the official brand style guide. Three. If you don't have a style guide to follow, you need to keep an eye out for contrasts because you're gonna want to use different fonts for different purposes. Specifically, if we take a look at a fresh, blank numbers document, you'll see there's a hetero at the top left and the far left. These cells look slightly different from the body cells in the middle, which are lighter. So rather than use the same front in both cases, we're gonna get a bit creative. And she's one funds to use for the headers and a different one for the body cells. Just think about it. The header cells contained labels, while the body cells generally contain numerical information 5. Spreadsheet Constraints: Now there are certain things about spreadsheets that make them interesting to design for. First off, when you have a cell with a lot of information in it, it starts to get a bid unwieldy. Our phrase with a lot of words and letters can push the with of an entire column really wide, for example, which could become problematic because this then pushes all the columns to the right of it . Way over. Because of this reason, I tend to pick fonts with narrower letter forms. This really comes in handy when you start adding more columns, and as a result, this ends up saving a lot of space and got sound on all the horizontal scrolling you'd otherwise be forced to do. So. Lafont that I ended up choosing is called Knockout from typography dot com, which happens to be one of my favorite sources for really great typography. As you can see, not only is it narrow, but it comes in various widths, from super skinny to super wide. This makes it very practical to use in spreadsheets, which is exactly what we want. But what if you don't have knock out or just want to find something else. Well, you can always do a search using terms like condensed, compressed or narrow. I also find that tall works to my personal favorite place. While I should say my other personal favorite place to look for fonds is my Fahnestock com , which is what you see here. But you can use the same search techniques at all font retailers. 6. Choosing a Font for Body Cells: Obviously, you're dealing with a lot of numerical data in a spreadsheet, and the typical choice is to go with the monos based phone because you want all the numbers of line up vertically with each other, so it's easy to scan up and down. They're really great if you want to convey something mechanical or high tech. But the problem with them is that they can feel a little cold or rigid if you want a more human organic feel, for example. Ah, what a lot of people don't know is that there are some fonts that come with a feature called tabular figures, which gives an additional option to change the proportion of the numerals so that they each have the same with. This is in contrast to proportional figures, which have different with that, a proportional to the individual numeral. So how do you know if a font has double figures? Well, in numbers, just type command t To bring up the font, panel that into the upper left hand corner, click on the gear icon and then choose typography you'll see in the second row. There's something called number spacing. Click on the triangle to its left to expand it, and you'll see that there are three options here. Monta space numbers, proportional numbers and no change. You probably guessed it already, but Monta space numbers is while numbers own way of saying tabular figures. It's the same feature, just called by a different name. If we go ahead and choose that option, you'll see how the numbers in my cell change ever so slightly in appearance. You may not think this makes a huge difference, but trust me when you start to populate a spreadsheet with rows and rows of numerical data , you will notice a difference. Now. If the font doesn't have tabular figures, it simply won't show up, as is the case with something like Georgia. So for my body fonts, I've chosen to use Whitney also from typography dot com. And in case you're wondering, yes, it does include tabular figures. The other big reason why I chose Whitney is that it comes in a lot of different weights, meaning just instead of having bold and regular, there's also medium lights, semi bold and black Ah, fun with a nice range of weights, meaning least 4 to 5 will come in handy. later when you want to set up ah hierarchy of data emphasizing some points in comparison to others as you'll see in the next lesson. 7. Setting Up: Okay, great. So now that we've chosen our fonts and colors were ready to start designing our actual table. So in numbers, I'm gonna press command and create a new document. Now, there's nothing stopping me from jumping into applying my fonts and colors now, but I like to work with actual data because it makes the process of designing feels so much more riel. So I found this table for the U. S. Election results of 18 60. This is the one where Abraham Lincoln one. Here's the euro. For those who want to follow along, you can also find it in the class description or feel free to use a totally different data set if you wish. Unfortunately, this is not a simple copy and paste job, so I'm gonna have to manually type in all the data points. Okay, now that I've got all my data loaded, there are two things I want to do here. The first is convert the bottom row into a foot a row, and that's because it's the most important metric, given the kind of data we're looking at here. After all, the winner of any election is determined by who has the biggest percentage of voters, right? So I'll do that by clicking on any cell in the very bottom row and moving all the way over to the left. And from here I see a little menu show up and I'll click on the triangle here and now. I have some options to choose from. As you might have guessed with one we want is convert to foot a row. So when I choose that, what happens? Well, see how the appearance changes. All of my body cells are now bold ID, and my most far left cell has a white background instead of a great one. This is just numbers default. Styling for foot arose. We're going to change that later to our liking, and it's nice of numbers to do something here to indicate something's happened. Something has changed. Typically, speaking your foot a row will contain the final results that you want your viewer to focus on. It's usually something like a some or an average of all the cells that preceded it. You may not need a foot a row at all. Actually, it just depends on what you're working with. I intentionally chose this kind of data to show you the full spectrum of what's possible. The second thing I'm gonna do is convert the road that contains the running mates into a hetero, And that's because these are two points of data that kind of go together. A lot of people aren't aware that you could have multiple headers, but this is a great example of when you would need to do something like this. Now, with numbers default styling, it looks kind of heavy but will take care of that later. This all is just going to serve as a base for our design. 8. Applying Colors: All right. Now comes the fun part colors. I'm gonna start by simply pacing in my color palette. I happen to have it sort of my creative cloud libraries. So what I do is just control command shift four to grab a screenshot of it from any adobe application that I happened to have open. And then I head back to numbers and hit command V to pace it in. It's not going to be a permanent fixture of my document, obviously, but this is going to make it a lot easier to pick my colors as you'll see in a bit. If you're grabbing colors from somewhere else. Like, say, Pinterest, this technique works exactly the same way. Just hit control command shift four and draw a rectangle over the colors you want to grab and then command tab back to numbers, too. Then command V pasted in your number document. Now in the format sidebar, I want to make sure that table is active, and then I'm going to head down to where it says table outline, click on this drop down menu and changed the setting to none. Next up, I'm gonna make sure that alternating row colors checked. This setting makes it a lot easier to scan the rows vertically, and I quite like it, so I always turn it on. Now here's one limitation of numbers you can Onley alternate between the chosen alternate color, which you can change, and whites, which you can not change. Technically, you could change the white rose if you really wanted to, but you have to do that manually for every single white rose. And so since that's a case, I suggest you pick an alternate row color that's very close to White because you don't want to have a whole lot of contrast between the rose. Otherwise, it's going to be too jarring to read. So the color that I'm gonna pick is simply the lightest color in my palette. I'll start by clicking on the color wheel button here, choose my eye dropper and then hover over to the color I want and clicking to select it. Now, this is still too dark for an alternate row color, so I'm gonna lighten it up by clicking on the color sliders tab. And if you don't already make sure you have HSB selected in the drop down that stands for hue, saturation brightness, and this gives you access to the brightness lighter where I'm going to turn it pretty high . So I'm also going to turn down the saturation to just one or 2%. I could go all the way down to zero, but I want to retain at least some essence of the original color. Let's move on to four mining cells, so I'm going to select all of them. If I hover over this middle upper quadrant, I can see that it represents the inside borders. So I'm going to click on that and all my inside borders are now highlighted. If I click on the border, styles dropped down, I can see that there are a bunch of styles I can choose from. So I'm gonna go with last one here, which you can easily guess will change the border color to white at three p. T. Or points thickness. Let's give it a shot. All right, Cool. That's exactly what I was going for. But I think three's a bit too thick, so I'm gonna reduce it down to two. Perfect. Of course, you're free to play around with the settings as you wish. I just start with this as my base as I found it, to be the best looking and the most adaptable. And the reason why is that? Making the borders white shifts the focus from the borders which are distracting to the cells which are the actual content and exactly what we want to have the reader focus on Next stop. Let's take care of thes header cells also liked rose one into, and I'm gonna change the fill to something dark to really call attention to it. These are header cells after all. Onley problem is now. I can't really read my text. Easy to solve, though. All I have to do is click on text over in my inspector and I'll choose a light color. I hope you see now why it's important to have contrast in your color scheme. I'll do the same thing from my cells and calm a, but instead I'll do the opposite, meaning I'm going to pick the same light color for the background and the dark color for the text. This still calls attention, but not as much, which is the exact effect that we want because this indicates to the reader that these cells are slightly more important than thes cells. Now what to do with the footer? Well, if you have another dark color in your palate, which I happen to have in my own, I recommend using that one. So let's give it a shot just before all, select the whole road, choose my background color and then my text color. And now the only thing left to do is choose a text color for my body cells and title. They're blocked by default, which is nice and legible. But to bring it closer to the branded look, I want, I'll choose one of my dark colors. All right, great. I think this is looking pretty good so far. Now let's apply our fonts. 9. Applying Fonts: so we'll start with the most obvious thing the title. I'm going to change that to knock out which, if you remember, is the fun I chose to use for my head or cells. You can choose whatever you want, but I would recommend using the same font for your title that you do for your header cells just for consistency. Now, it doesn't exactly stand out right now, so I'm gonna choose a variant of knockout that goes with widest weakened go, which is 94. Ultimate Sumo. It's still a bit too small for my taste right now. And besides, Knockout is a fund that just wants to be big, so I'll bump it up to 18 point. It's also a fund that looks better when it's all caps. So I'm gonna change it by going to format font capitalisation all caps. Now, you might be wondering why I didn't just read type it while turning on caps lock on my keyboard. Well, the answer is that now, when I type something new into the title, even if my caps lock is off, I still get all caps. This is important when we set up our template later because I'm essentially saying that I want the title toe always be set in all caps for every document that is created from the template I'm creating Now, the last thing I'll do to the title is increases spacing between the letters to make it a bit more breathable. So I'm gonna go formats, font character spacing, Loosen. Now that did make a tiny difference. But I want more, so I'm going to loosen it even further by just hitting the keyboard. Shortcut. Ah, few times for the loosen command by hitting command option right bracket until I'm satisfied. Great. That looks good. The next obvious thing to take care of would be these two head arose. So click on Row one. Hold down my mouse button and drag down to row to to grab both of them automatically. And I'm essentially going to do the same thing here as I did to the title, which has changed the font to knock out. And I'm going to go with a variant that's narrow but still legible. So 30 junior welterweight seems like a good choice for that. It's just before a bit too small, so we'll bump it up to 16 point and said the capitalization to all caps increase the character space, saying, just like we did for the title, with command option, right bracket and the Texas falling now onto two lines. So all make each column wider to ensure each cell on Lee has a single line of text. Okay, so looking at this now, I feel like the running mate probably shouldn't have as much emphasis as the nominee. Because, let's face it, history doesn't remember vice presidents, right? So all select wrote to and let's go with 28 junior featherweight. All right, cool. Next we've got these header cells in the first column party home state, electoral votes, popular vote percentage. I mean, is that those 2 16 points, all caps loosen the characters with command option right bracket, and now we are all done with the head ourselves. So the last thing to take care of our the body Selves, so click and drag to select all of them and change the font to Whitney, which, if you remember, is the fun I had chosen for my body cells. Whitney is a bit more eligible at small sizes and knock out, so I'll just bump it up to 14 instead of 16 like it did for knockout. And it looks like numbers chose the lights variant by default. But that's a little too faint to be truly legible at this size. So I'll choose a heavier, weight like book. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you sex if I a spreadsheet, you're welcome.