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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, Adobe's print and interactive page layout application, 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.
Tables don't just spring to life by themselves. You need to feed them, care for them, adjust their rows and columns. In this case, I have two tables that I'd like to make a little bit nicer. So the first thing I am going to do is learn how to change the row and column sizes. I'll select with the Type tool inside the table on the left and zoom into 200% with Command+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows. If I want to change the height of one of these rows, I simply place the Type cursor over the boundary between the rows and drag.
Drag down and the row gets larger. Drag up it gets smaller again. You must use the Type tool to do these kinds of changes. You can't do it with the Selection tools. So dragging on the boundary makes one row larger. What if we want to make a bunch of rows larger? Well, one option is to drag the bottom of the table down. If I just drag it down it makes that one row larger, right? Let me undo that. Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Instead I am going to Shift+Drag down. Shift+Drag makes all the rows proportionally larger.
If I click inside one of these table cells, I can see in the Table panel that the Height, that's this icon here, is set to at least 17 points. Well 17.821 but you get the idea. I can change this value to change the height of the row. For example, I'll change this to 24 points. Now that row got larger. But what does At Least mean? At least means if I put more text into the cell it will grow automatically, but it'll never be smaller than 24 points in this case.
For example, I could start typing and then hit Return and then type and then hit Return and type and so on, and you see that it automatically grows. On the other hand if I change this pop- up menu from At Least to Exactly then it will be exactly that value. Notice that it changed to 58 points to match what I had done here. But let's go ahead and set this back to 24 points. The text disappeared and instead I see this little red dot. That dot is the table equivalent of the overset marker.
That means there's more text that could fit into that cell. But where is it? How can I see it? The only way to get that text is either to make that row bigger again or to use Story Editor. If I select some text inside this cell and then go to Edit > Edit in Story Editor, you'll see that the text is selected here as well. If I come in here and select all this text including the overset and then delete it then I'll close the Story Editor. You'll see that I no longer have my overset mark.
Now in this table I don't like the fact that some rows are taller than others. There is a couple ways to get around that. One is I could select all the rows in the table by going to Table > Select > Table or because this is a single column I could choose Column as well. That selects all the cells in that table. Now I am going to go to the Table menu and choose Distribute Rows Evenly. When I do that, all the rows become the same amount. It averages them out. Another option would be to set the height in the Table menu.
I could change this to At Least. Now all of those rows you are going to end up at least 24 points tall. I am going to scroll over to this table now and show you some options that you have in multi-column tables. I just click inside this table, which deselected the other one, and now I'm going to change the column width of this. I can do that by dragging the line between the columns but notice what happened to the right side of the table. It was pushed right out of the text frame. Now I don't want to do that in this case. So I am going to undo that with a Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Instead I am going to hold down the Shift key while I drag this.
When I Shift+Drag it changes just this column divider. It doesn't change the total width of the table. That's a little bit different than what we saw earlier when I Shift-dragged on the bottom of the table. So you can see that Shift-dragging actually works differently depending on what you're dragging. If you Shift-drag on an inside divider it just changes that one line, that one divider. But if you Shift-drag on an outside, for example here on the right side of the table, it adjusts all of the rows or columns proportionally. Let's undo that, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. So I am going to Shift-Drag on this Price to move it over to the right.
Shift-Drag on the Quantity move that over and I am seeing that these two columns are not the same width. I don't like that. I would like to have them exactly the same. So just like we saw earlier when we were adjusting rows, we can adjust these two columns. Now notice that I dragged from this cell over to this cell and it highlighted the cells themselves. I don't have to select the entire columns in order to change the width of those columns. I can just select these cells in both of them. Now I'll just go to the Table menu and choose Distribute Columns Evenly.
That evens them out nicely. We can see the exact width here in the Table panel, just over 56 points wide, and of course we'd adjust that to any width we want. Okay, a couple other table features that you need to know about. One is I can merge two or more table cells together. For example, I'll drag over these three cells to select them. Then I'll go to the Table menu and choose Merge Cells. All of a sudden, I get one big table cell, which I could fill with text. Alternately, I can split a table cell.
I'll click inside of this cell over here, come to the Table menu, and choose Split Cell Vertically. That means put a vertical divider right down the middle of the cell. So now I have two cells in that place. Of course, you can go crazy here, splitting this one vertically or in this case horizontally. As you can see you can make your table pretty much as complicated as you need it to be. And in this case, I've made it way too complicated. I don't really need all of this so I'm going to select all of those cells by clicking in one and dragging over until I've selected that whole group.
Now I am going to simply delete them and I can do that by going to the Table menu choosing Delete and then choosing Row. What about adding rows? For example, let's add a row after Address Line 2 in this table. I simply click inside this table cell, go to Table menu and choose Insert > Row. InDesign asks me where do I want the row, above or below? I'll say let's do one below, click OK, and there's my new row. Now once you have your basic table structure down, it's time to start paying attention to formatting it, making it more attractive.
At least, I hope you want to make it more attractive than this.
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