InDesign CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables


InDesign CS5 Essential Training

with David Blatner

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Video: Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables

Where do tables usually come from? Well, most of the time they come from some Microsoft product, either Word or Excel. So let's take a moment to look at how InDesign imports these tables and what happens when the original file gets updated. Before I import one of those files, let's go take a look at it in Word. In this Word document there is nothing but a table. Now that's unusual. Usually there is a bunch of text with a table stuck in the middle. But in this case, I am trying to keep things simple. Now that I've seen this Word document, let's import it into InDesign.
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 33s
    2. What is InDesign CS5?
      2m 26s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 51s
  2. 54m 49s
    1. Understanding the Application window
      6m 0s
    2. Navigating pages
      6m 39s
    3. Zooming and magnifying
      6m 57s
    4. Managing more than one document window
      3m 36s
    5. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 9s
    6. Positioning panels correctly
      6m 28s
    7. Saving time by making workspaces
      3m 24s
    8. Setting the view quality of artwork
      4m 9s
    9. Adjusting View and Preview settings
      4m 56s
    10. Rotating pages and spreads
      3m 2s
    11. Displaying a new view with the New Window feature
      3m 29s
    12. Setting application and document preferences
      4m 0s
  3. 21m 31s
    1. Using the Tool panel
      8m 1s
    2. Learning and editing keyboard shortcuts
      6m 24s
    3. Working with spring-loaded tool shortcuts
      1m 17s
    4. Using contextual menus
      2m 51s
    5. Choosing menu items with Quick Apply
      2m 58s
  4. 45m 25s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 28s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      3m 41s
    3. Using multiple Undo and Revert
      4m 28s
    4. Setting margin and column guides
      5m 16s
    5. Using ruler guides
      8m 10s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 29s
    7. Saving objects in libraries
      4m 49s
    8. Exporting and importing page snippets
      4m 29s
    9. Saving for CS4 with IDML
      2m 35s
  5. 31m 18s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      7m 23s
    2. Changing page size
      6m 14s
    3. Adding page numbering
      3m 43s
    4. Changing page numbering with sections
      5m 58s
    5. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 20s
    6. Overriding master page items
      2m 40s
  6. 1h 21m
    1. Understanding text frames
      4m 6s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 36s
    3. Filling with placeholder text
      2m 38s
    4. Inserting special characters
      4m 43s
    5. Importing text
      7m 49s
    6. Threading text frames
      4m 1s
    7. Setting text frame columns and insets
      6m 32s
    8. Setting vertical justification and first baseline position
      6m 9s
    9. Putting text on a path
      6m 51s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      8m 43s
    11. Checking spelling
      7m 42s
    12. Using Find/Change
      9m 25s
    13. Tracking text changes
      8m 1s
  7. 49m 50s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 11s
    2. Importing from Mini Bridge
      5m 27s
    3. Using the Links panel
      6m 34s
    4. Embedding links
      2m 37s
    5. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 14s
    6. Fitting graphics to a frame
      6m 12s
    7. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 53s
    8. Adding live captions
      5m 56s
    9. Colorizing images
      2m 1s
    10. Turning image layers on and off
      4m 45s
  8. 46m 15s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 32s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      8m 18s
    3. Using advanced strokes
      3m 28s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 38s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      6m 41s
    6. Applying feathering
      4m 25s
    7. Copying formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      4m 35s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 50s
    9. Making polygons and starbursts
      3m 48s
  9. 22m 56s
    1. Making interactive documents
      2m 6s
    2. Adding hyperlinks
      5m 52s
    3. Building bookmarks
      3m 38s
    4. Creating buttons
      8m 57s
    5. Animating an object
      2m 23s
  10. 23m 15s
    1. Creating color swatches
      5m 52s
    2. The danger and power of unnamed colors
      4m 33s
    3. Building tint swatches
      2m 18s
    4. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 56s
    5. Applying gradients
      6m 36s
  11. 50m 0s
    1. Positioning objects with the Page Gap tool
      2m 53s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 13s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      3m 53s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 37s
    5. Nesting objects
      2m 46s
    6. Editing frame and path shapes
      4m 6s
    7. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      3m 57s
    8. Grouping objects
      3m 14s
    9. Locking objects
      2m 39s
    10. Aligning and distributing
      5m 43s
    11. Understanding text wrap
      8m 13s
    12. Using anchored objects
      6m 46s
  12. 18m 49s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 39s
    2. Rotating objects
      3m 3s
    3. Scaling objects
      3m 57s
    4. Mirroring objects
      3m 46s
    5. Using the Transform Again feature
      2m 24s
  13. 25m 52s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 8s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 54s
    3. Changing case
      2m 51s
    4. Understanding OpenType features
      3m 19s
    5. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      3m 18s
    6. Using Find Font
      4m 22s
  14. 45m 27s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 14s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      3m 5s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      2m 1s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 16s
    5. Adjusting text hyphenation
      3m 21s
    6. Fine-tuning justified text
      4m 19s
    7. Setting tabs
      5m 54s
    8. Aligning to a baseline grid
      4m 24s
    9. Controlling orphans and widows with Keep Options
      2m 39s
    10. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 14s
    11. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 39s
    12. Working with numbered lists
      4m 21s
  15. 31m 3s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 34s
    2. Using character styles
      5m 43s
    3. Applying styles automatically with Nested Styles
      7m 19s
    4. Using object styles
      3m 27s
    5. Using Quick Apply with styles
      2m 49s
    6. Cleaning up a local formatting mess
      5m 11s
  16. 37m 0s
    1. Creating a table
      5m 54s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      6m 35s
    3. Formatting a table
      8m 5s
    4. Adding headers and footers
      1m 58s
    5. Applying table styles
      5m 32s
    6. Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 56s
  17. 10m 14s
    1. Checking your document with the Preflight panel
      2m 54s
    2. Creating a custom preflight profile
      4m 45s
    3. Checking color with the Separations Preview
      2m 35s
  18. 31m 6s
    1. Packaging for output
      4m 12s
    2. Using the Print dialog box
      10m 22s
    3. Exporting a PDF
      8m 47s
    4. Exporting an interactive PDF
      3m 59s
    5. Exporting text
      1m 36s
    6. Exporting SWF files
      2m 10s
  19. 1m 32s
    1. Finding more information and help
      1m 12s
    2. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign CS5 Essential Training
10h 33m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Navigating and customizing the workspace
  • Managing documents and pages
  • Rotating pages and spreads
  • Adjusting and mixing page sizes
  • Overriding master page items
  • Putting text on a path
  • Threading text frames
  • Applying strokes, fills, and other formatting effects
  • Nesting, grouping, and locking objects
  • Formatting: character-level and paragraph-level
  • Packaging, printing, and exporting
David Blatner

Adding Microsoft Word and Excel tables

Where do tables usually come from? Well, most of the time they come from some Microsoft product, either Word or Excel. So let's take a moment to look at how InDesign imports these tables and what happens when the original file gets updated. Before I import one of those files, let's go take a look at it in Word. In this Word document there is nothing but a table. Now that's unusual. Usually there is a bunch of text with a table stuck in the middle. But in this case, I am trying to keep things simple. Now that I've seen this Word document, let's import it into InDesign.

I'll switchback InDesign, go to the File menu and choose Place. There is my Word doc and I'm going to turn on the Show Import Options checkbox so I can see that I have more controls over how that Word document is going to come in. By default, InDesign will try and preserve all the styles and formatting from my text and tables. However if I want to, I could strip away all the formatting by turning on this radio button here. This will actually let me convert my tables to either Unformatted Tables or just Tabbed Text.

The problem is normally when I'm importing a Word document the tables are inside along with a bunch of other text and I do want to keep the formatting for the text. I really wish there were a way to preserve all the styles from the text but then strip out the formatting from the tables, but you can't do that here. So instead, I am just going to take the hard route and preserve everything. I'll click OK and it loads the Place cursor and now I'll click and drag out a text frame for that story to go into. I'll zoom into 200% with a Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows, and now I see that that table with all its formatting has come into InDesign.

There are couple strange things going on here including the fact that the table is wider than my text frame. I can deal with that by double- clicking in one of the cells to switch to the Type tool and then dragging the right edge of the table with the Shift key held down. Remember that will resize all the columns proportionally so that they all fit. When you import a Word document and you see that the formatting came across, the first thing that you should do is open your Cells Styles panel and remove all the local formatting from the cells.

To do that, select all the cells with the Command+Option+A or Ctrl+Alt+A and then click on the Clear Overrides button at the bottom of the Cell Styles panel. That completely strips out all the local formatting that came from Word. Now you can format your table cleanly using the tools in InDesign or if you've already built table styles go ahead and apply them now. In this case, I had a table style made so I simply clicked on it. Unfortunately when I do that I see that there's still a little plus sign after the table style name.

That happens sometimes when extra formatting gets leftover from the Word document. I am not sure why but I do know how to take care of it. All you have to do is clear the formatting in the Tables Styles panel too. There we go. Now we have the table looking just right except for one thing and that is the header. The header is not automatically applied because you have to manually come in here, select it, and then go to the Table menu and choose Convert Rows > To Header, perfect. Okay, now let's do the same thing but with an Excel document.

Here is the Excel document. You can see that all the text is formatted exactly the same way, with a little bit different data. I can actually copy and paste this data from Excel into InDesign but I am going to use the Place feature again. I'll come back to InDesign, I'll scroll down and zoom out a little bit and click out here in the margin just to make sure nothing is selected on my page. Then I'll go to File > Place and grab the Excel document. Once again, I'm including Show Import Options just to show you what you can choose when you have an Excel document.

You can pick a worksheet and you can even pick which cell range from that Excel document. Even better, you can choose what to do with the table formatting. You can say bring it as Formatted or Unformatted. I am going to strip away all the formatting that was in the Excel document and automatically apply the table style that I've created. Now when I click OK it loads the Place cursor and I can drag it out and it's all formatted. Now the only thing left for me to do is to select that first row and then right-click and choose Convert To Header Rows.

Now a lot of people ask me what do I do with Excel documents where the data is going to change frequently? Is there any way to link InDesign to that Excel document? Well, the answer is yes and no. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to delete both these frames that I have created, just so we can start with a nice fresh page. And I'm going to import the Excel document one more time, but before I do that I'm going to change a preference in the InDesign Preferences dialog box. On the Mac I choose that from the InDesign menu. In Windows you choose it from the Edit menu.

I'll pick the General preferences but now I'll immediately go down to File Handling. And in the File Handling pane of the Preferences dialog box, I am going to turn on the checkbox called Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files. When this is on, any Word or Excel documents that you place will automatically get linked to the file on disk and they'll even show up in the Links panel. I'll click OK, open the Place dialog box with Command+D or Ctrl+D, choose my Order Form, click Open.

I'll use all the same settings as I did just a moment ago, click OK, and click and drag. The table style is automatically applied. It is imported and it looks great. What's better, if I look in the Links panel, I can see my Excel file here. Now if you don't need to do anything more to this table other than import it, then things are great. But as soon as I make a change to this I am going to have trouble. For example, in this case I'll double- click, select my header row and convert it into a true InDesign header row.

I've done something to this table, so I'm going to have a little trouble. Let me show you. Let's switch back to Excel and I'll change some numbers here. I am just going to randomly change these numbers around to... I'll make this 2, 5, and 10 in the Quantity column here. Now I'll Save, Command+S. Come back here to InDesign and we'll see that the Links panel shows this document as modified. We know what to do there. We simply click the Update button and here's the warning, Edits have been made.

So what do you want do about it? Do you want to update it anyway? We are going to say Yes and the new data comes in. There is the new quantities that were in the table, but look what happened to the header row. It got stripped out. That is any changes that we made in InDesign even that conversion to the header row is stripped away. It's as though we re -imported the Excel file from scratch. Now in this case, it's not that big of a deal. We simply select it and convert it to header rows one more time. But if you've done a lot of editing to your table inside InDesign it's going to be a real hassle.

So let me show you one other way that you can update a table if the data changes in Excel. I'll go back to Excel. Let's change these numbers one more time. I am going to make much bigger numbers. They're really obvious here. So I've updated that numbers in Excel and I really wish InDesign would have those new numbers. So instead of saving it and updating it in InDesign I am simply going to copy and paste. To do that I could select the entire table or just the cells that have changed. In this case I'll just select the numbers in the second column.

I'll choose Edit > Copy, I'll switch back to InDesign, and I need to paste those numbers into this column. The trick here is to make sure the cells are selected not the text. For example, if I click after this 2 right now and paste, well it's kind of a mess. All of that information is pasted into that one cell. That's not what I wanted. So I am going to undo with Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Instead, I want to make sure that the cell is selected. You can toggle between the content of the cell being selected and the cell itself by pressing the Escape key.

I press Escape and the cell is now selected. I don't have to select all these cells in order to paste. Just the one in the upper left corner or in this case, the one at the top of the column. Now when I Paste with Command+V or Ctrl +V, you can see that all the data from this cell down has been updated. So as you can see, this is a much more efficient method for moving data from one table to another. This also works if I want to copy data from one table in InDesign to another. Just make sure the cell is selected, not the text inside the cell.

You pretty much can't avoid these Word and Excel documents, so you might as well try and live the best you can with them. These tools, and especially the copy and paste cells trick, really makes life easier.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the “Exporting to PDF” video, the author states "The flattener, and how to control it, is an advanced topic that I cover in a later title."
Is this “later title” available on yet?
A: Unfortunately that title is still in development. However, the features are exactly the same in CS4, so please see Chapter 11 in InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics.
Q: Can an image be placed into a cell in InDesign?
A: Yes,  but only as an anchored (inline) object. Cut the frame with the Selection tool, switch to the Type tool, click in the cell, and Paste.
Q: Is it possible to load or import pages from one document to another in InDesign CS5?
A: Pages cannot be “loaded”, but they can be "pushed" from one document to another by choosing Layout > Pages > Move Pages.
Q: When I place an image, it is distorted or pixilated to the point of not being able to use it. I can place or open those same images in Photoshop or Illustrator and they are fine.
A: You are likely seeing the low-resolution preview. To see high resolution or vector artwork, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality.
Q: When I place an image, it is distorted or pixilated to the point of not being able to use it. I can place or open those same images in Photoshop or Illustrator and they are fine.
A: You are likely seeing the low-resolution preview. To see high resolution or vector artwork, choose View > Display Performance > High Quality.
Q: I'm looking for a tutorial that will allow me to use InDesign to create files that can be emailed. I guess they have to be converted to HTML first? Is that possible?
A: If you are trying to make an HTML email, then InDesign really isn't the tool for you. It's HTML abilities are extremely limited. Look toward Dreamweaver for that. Alternatively, you could create a layout in InDesign, then export the page as a JPEG image and put that in the email.
Q: Since I upgraded to the new version of InDesign, when I click the "edit original" button in the Links panel, the pictures open in Preview instead of Photoshop
A: "Here are two articles about this problem: 
Q: I cannot see files on the desktop when in InDesign.
A: If you are using the Mac OS, you may need to turn off Window > Application Frame in order to see files behind InDesign (such as those on the Finder Desktop). If you are on Windows, you are seeing a difference between Mac and Windows. In Windows, the application is always living inside the application frame. If you un-maximize the windows frame, you can drag it smaller so you see the desktop and drag to or from it.
Q: I am currently working on an InDesign document originally created in Spanish. I am translating it to English and I need to change the language preference to be able to use the spell check in English. I have changed it in Preferences, but when I go to do the spell check on the document it is still in Spanish. How can I change the spell check to English?
A: Changing the language in preferences does not change the document or text language. You need to change the langauge in the paragraph style or the character style or in the Character panel or the Control panel (select the text first).
Q: In the movie, "Inserting, deleting, and moving pages" the author claims you can Shift-click text and the red overset symbol (a plus sign) will disappear. This isn't working for me.
A: Shift-clicking to make text automatically flow to the next text box or boxes only works when you place text from a loaded cursor. Shift-clicking existing text will not affect it.
Instead, if the overset text symbol appears in an existing text frame, choose the Selection tool and click the symbol to load the text in your cursor. Then Shift-click inside the next text frame to start it auto-flowing from there.
Q: I want to add a 2-page spread following a 1-page spread, but when I insert two new pages, InDesign creates a 3-page spread. How do I solve this?
A: If you're seeing 3-page spreads, turn on Allow Document Pages to Shuffle (and Allow Selected Spread to Shuffle) from the Pages panel menu.
Q: The keys used for navigating to the previous or next spread in a layout (Command+Page Up/Command+Page Down) don't appear on my laptop keyboard and the arrow keys don't work. What keys should I use?
A: Most laptop keyboards don't have these keys anymore. Look for a "modifier" key (such as the Alt or Fn keys) to press to access these keys. For example, on a Macbook Pro, you'd press Command and then Fn+Up Arrow to invoke Next Spread.
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