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Okay, it's time for everyone's favorite subject, Tables. There is a lot to working with tables in InDesign. In fact, there's so much that we could have a title all about tables and tables alone. And in fact, there is just such a title in the lynda.com online training library. And it's by Diane Burns, and it's called InDesign Tables In Depth. I highly recommend you check it out. So what I'm going to do with tables rather than repeat the stuff that Diane has said is first of all look at some aesthetic considerations of dealing with tables, and then just go on and give you some tips and tricks for working with tables.
I want to make three important and fairly obvious points. The first of those is that tables frequently are crammed with a lot of information often more information than comfortably fits. So for that reason, if there's ever a good time to use a condensed typeface where we can get more into a finite amount of space, this is it. You can see that here I have used Myriad Pro Condensed. So if you have a condensed typeface and indeed if you have InDesign, you do because you have Myriad Pro, now it might be the time to use that typeface.
The second consideration is your use of numbers, and the numbering style. In the chapter on Small--but important-- Details there was a movie on numerals, in which I outlined the four different numbering styles that are part of OpenType typefaces, or at least those that have an extended character set the Pro Fonts. I expressed a preference in body text for using Proportional Oldstyle, depending on the typeface, but more often than not I prefer to use Proportional Oldstyle.
Well, in tables that is not true, because in tables we want to use Tabular Lining or possibly Tabular Oldstyle. But we want the information presented as simply as possible. So I would favor Tabular Lining. Now the difference between these and these apart from their character shapes is how much space each numeral occupies, with Tabular Lining, it's an equal amount of space for each numeral, meaning that, they will align underneath each other.
If I were to select this area of the table, my Control panel changes so to get to the OpenType Options I am going to need to press Command, or Ctrl+T, to bring out my Character panel, and from its panel menu I can get to my OpenType Options there. If I change the numerals to Proportional Oldstyle, you can see down here that things are not aligning the way they used to. You see how the 6 is sticking out beyond the edge of the 7, and that is because Proportional Oldstyle figures use a varying amount of width depending on the numeral shape.
The third consideration when working with tables is that if you are using shaded cells, which is a very good way to differentiate the information. The shading should accentuate the reading direction. In a train timetable like this, the reading direction is from top to bottom. We want to see at what time the train starts and where, and at what time and where it finishes up. Whereas, if you are looking at a football league table, for example, you're more likely to want to read from side to side, from left-to-right and the cell shading should emphasize that.
So there we have three stylistic considerations when working with tables, condensed typefaces, tabular numbers, and cell shading to accentuate reading direction.
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