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Could you imagine trying to format an entire book without the benefit of paragraph and character styles? It would be crazy to even try. Well, likewise you wouldn't want to approach a table-heavy long document without the benefit of table styles and cell styles. The first thing to keep in mind when learning about InDesign's table and cell styles is the way one kind of a style is incorporated into another. Table styles use cell styles, cell styles can include paragraph styles, and of course paragraph styles can include character styles in the form of nested styles and GREP styles, and so on.
So when you're building your table styles, you really need to follow the progression of style building. Otherwise, you might find yourself going back and forth a lot. So start with the character styles you need in your table, then build the paragraph styles, then the cell styles, and then finally the table styles. And even after all that you still will probably have some manual work ahead of you to finish the table formatting. So here's the table that uses five different kinds of cells. There is a header style, there is a subhead style, there is a cell style for the photos.
There is a column head style and a row head style and the body cell styles. Now some but not all of these, can be specified in a table style. So let's see which ones we can automate and which ones were handwork. If I go into my Table Styles panel and right-click to edit BookbindingTable, which is the table style applied here, I can look in the Cell Styles and I can see which ones I have applied. So the Header Rows are using a TableTitle cell style, the Footer Rows, if I had any, would be using the TableFooter.
The Body Rows are using TableBody, and the Left Column. This one over here, are using these SideHead cell style. And I can look through my other table style options, so I have Table Setup for a Border and Spacing and I have alternating patterns of Strokes and Fills, if I wanted them. But did you notice what you don't have in a table style? There are no options for headers and footers and there are no options for the widths of columns or the heights of rows. These are things you're going to have to manually for each table, because they're not controlled by table or cell styles.
So let's see a table style in action. I will cancel out of the dialog box and page down, and here I have some tab text. I want to convert this into a formatted table. So I will select the text and I will choose, Table > Convert Text to Table. I will select my table style, BookBindingTable and click OK. And you can see that InDesign's done some nice work for me, but not everything. It's applied the cell styles to the body cells and to the left column, but there's no header and the size of the rows and columns is going to be have to be adjusted.
So the first thing I want to do is to merge the cells at the top of the table for the title. So I can click on the left to select that whole row and up in the Control panel I can click on Merge cells, and I'll do the same thing for my subhead row. I will select the row and Merge the cells. Now I can apply the cell styles. So I'll go back to my header, go to my Cell Styles panel, and select TableTitle, and I will click off it.
Now it looks okay in terms of the fill and the type, but it's a little too short. I can't control the height of this row with my cell style, so I have to do that manually. So I will select the row again, and in the Control panel, I'll click on the Row Height and set it to exactly 2 picas. Then I will select the subhead and apply the SubHead Cell style, and that looks good. Now I have a cell that I want to fill with a photo.
So I want to put this photo of the book in here. I created a PhotoCell style. So I will select the cell and in the Cell Styles panel, select PhotoCell. Now I can position the photo over the cell, cut it, put my cursor in the cell, and choose Edit > Paste, and it completely fills the cell. Now the reason it fills the cell, as we'll look at in the Cell Style, is I have 0 insets on all sides, and I have Clip Contents to Cell.
So that makes the photo completely fill the cell. Next I will apply my column head styles. So I will select the columns, apply ColumnHead, and also notice throughout the table that the numbers are in bold. This is the result of a GREP style that searches for Roman Numerals and applies bold to them. So you can see there's a chain of styling that's occurring, character styles are automatically being applied by paragraph styles, which are then automatically being applied by cell styles, in this case the body cells. Pretty nifty.
Table styles and cell styles are pretty good allies in the battle to achieve great table formatting. They don't do everything you need, but they'll still definitely save you hours of work over a manual table setup.
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