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Library: InDesign

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Format multiple tables similarly with breakneck sp

Added on Saturday 15th of August 2009 11:25 pm EST

In the publishing realm, a table isn’t the kind on which you eat but rather an effective way to display data in a series of rows and columns. Not only are tables effective graphics solutions for making text-heavy pages more appealing to viewers, they also make the information easier to read, so it’s less likely to be overlooked. There isn’t anything easy about manually formatting a document full of tables, though—even when the tables are as simple as the one shown in Figure A. That’s why we know you’re going to love the new Table Styles and Cell Styles features in InDesign CS3, which enable you to format and edit the appearance of multiple tables in mere seconds.


Consider your options
Of course, it helps to produce the prototype before you create the table style. One way to create a table in InDesign is to set up a grid with the required number of rows and columns, and then type the text in the appropriate cells. Another option is to convert existing text to table form. For this method to work correctly, the rows and columns in the text must be demarcated properly using tab spaces, commas, or paragraph returns.

Option #1: Convert text to table
When the text already exists and it’s set with the proper separators (tabs, commas, returns), the easiest thing to do is convert it to table form. To work along with us as we convert text to a table, download the Microsoft Word document we use in this example from the URL listed at the beginning of this article.

To convert text to a table:
1. Launch InDesign, and then click From Template under the Create New header to launch Adobe Bridge CS3 or choose File > New > Document From Template. Open the Brochures folder and double-click on Brochure3.indt.
2. Save the new document, naming it Bahamas.indd.
3. Go to page 3 and delete the content (not the frame) in the lower-left text frame. Also delete the image of the sunbather.
4. Choose File > Place, select the hotels. doc file, and then [shift]-click Open to display the Microsoft Word Import Options dialog box.
5. Select the Remove Styles And Formatting From Text And Tables option button, and then click OK.
6. Press cA ([Ctrl]A in Windows) to select the text, and then select Body 2 in the Paragraph Styles panel.
7. Select Bahamas in the first line, and then select Head 2 in the Paragraph Styles panel.
8. Choose Table > Convert Text To Table to open the Convert Text To Table dialog box, shown in Figure B.


InDesign automatically recognizes how to convert the text into columns and rows because of the proper use of separators, so all you need to do is click OK.
As you can see in Figure C, the resulting table is hardly finished. However, everything is where it should be and now it’s just a matter of formatting the table.


Option #2: Start from scratch
When you have yet to generate the content for a table or the content’s formatting is too discombobulated (soft returns, extra tab spaces, etc.), a better route is to create the table first and populate it second. Manually typing text takes time, but probably not as much as straightening out the mess created by converting improperly formatted text to a table. Although there isn’t a need for another table in our example, you can practice this method in your document.

To create a table and then enter text:
1. Drag the Type tool on the p...