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You know people sometimes give me a funny look when I tell them how crazy I am about InDesign's Table features. One of the reasons is that once you understand the basics of how InDesign features work you can start to think about them in a more pliable and flexible way. I mean after all cells can be any size especially when you start splitting and merging them, you can get some interesting patterns, cell strokes can be turned off altogether or they can be made really huge. And you can use any color in your Swatches panel, gradients with some limitations.
And yet at the same time there's always this beautiful underlying grid. Throw in anchored objects and the possibilities are literally endless. Here's just one simple example, a flow chart type diagram, that is in fact a simple InDesign table. I will show you how this was done, and hopefully get you thinking about other ways in which InDesign tables can be used, maybe ways that you haven't thought about before. I'm going to turn to the next page Shift+Page down and here I have the table with some text formatting but just the default table style applied.
First I am going to select all the rows and make them a fixed height, so we'll go from At Least to Exactly up here in the Control panel. And I am going to set the row height to 4p8, 4 picas and 8 points. We will change the vertical alignment in the cells to centered, and again I can just use the Control panel up here and then we will go ahead and apply our colors. I am going to click in the first column and open the Swatches panel, the first column is filled always want to check and make sure that's what I'm selecting, first column is purple, second one is PANTONE color, and the third is 50% yellow.
Then next thing I am going to do is turn off all of the row strokes, let's right mouse click and go to our Strokes and Fills dialog so we can see it a little more clearly. And remember, when you want to turn column and row strokes off, set the Weight to 0. Also if you're doing some kind of totally customized pattern I think it's a good idea to turn off all the strokes completely first. Now we'll go back and turn on the strokes that we want. I am going to select the table and go back to our Strokes and Fill dialog and I want to turn off all of the vertical strokes, I am not going to have any vertical strokes, but I am going to have horizontal strokes and I am going to set the weight to be pretty fat.
We are going to make an 18 point stroke here and I want it to have the Color Paper. Click OK, we don't your Swatches panel anymore. So now we have these really thick strokes that are going to give us room for the little pointy parts of this arrow. I'm going to switch from Preview to Normal mode so we can see the cell edges a little better and switch back to my Type tool, and now I am going to make the first column narrower and the second and third columns I'll stretch out a bit, they don't have to be exactly the same width here.
Next I am going to adjust my Cell Insets, I am going to click on the first column and go to our Text Controls and make sure that this little link is unchecked, we will change this by just a little bit I think 6 points will do it. That looks good. Sometimes the Inset settings are on the Control panel, but it really depends on the size of your monitor and the resolution. Next I am going to change the left inset for the second and third column and again we will go back to our Cell Options.
So I'm going to make room for that arrow, I'm going to change these to 3p6, 3 picas and 6 points. That will make room for our arrow. Now we're ready to put this arrow into position. The arrow was originally drawn in Illustrator, and we brought it into InDesign and it also has an object style applied to it that sets in the anchored object positions. I am going to anchor it and we will take a look at that. In CS4 or CS5, to anchor this we need to cut or copy it into the Clipboard and I'll copy this, and then position our cursor where we want to anchor it and paste.
In CS5 we can just grab the blue icon and drag it here. So this is already positioned by virtue of the object style that's been applied to it. And let's take a look at the anchored object options for this. The anchored object is of course the arrow and its reference point is the right-center, so it's referencing here. And it's referencing to where, to the left side of the Anchor Marker, which is here, and we have a fixed offsets for that, the horizontal offset is just 5 points, so there's only 5 points between the anchor point and the tip of the arrow.
And then I left the vertical position relative to the baseline so there is a vertical offset of 4.5 points. That vertical offset is measured from here up to here. So the reason that we anchor the arrow in the cell over here, even though the arrow is going to be part of this is that we have a fixed distance from here to here. The next thing I am going to do is apply a color to this arrow, so I will open my Swatches panel again, and because this arrow is suppose to be part of the cell in the first column I am going to give it this purple color.
Now I can copy it into the Clipboard, Command or Ctrl+C and then I'll click in this cell and paste it and paste again. Next we are going to copy this into the next column, so I'll select it and click here and paste it in and this arrow is going to be made this color. This way it looks like the arrow is part of this cell here. So I'll copy this into the Clipboard again because now it's the correct color and paste here and here.
Even at this point if we look at this in Preview mode so that we can see the formatting, it looks pretty good and then kind of great that it's a table, huh. Well, the last thing we are going to do is make it match up to the example that I showed you at the beginning of the video where these arrows are actually different lengths. I am going to switch back to the Type tool and select this column and change the left inset here, we will make this 5 picas. Notice that the arrows have pulled away. That's okay.
Now we'll go into this column and I'm going to make the left insets even larger here, we will make those 7 picas. And what this is going to help do is give us the illusion that the lines that are being drawn that are attached to these arrows are different lengths. Now there's one obvious problem here that because the arrows are anchored from here to here they moved forward and that's pretty easy to fix. I am going to do that with the Direct Select tool to move this back line of the arrow back to the left.
Notice that when I bring this cursor close to that left line a little line icon appears at the bottom of the cursor. That tells me that if I mouse down now I am going to be selecting that line in the arrow. So I'm going to hold down the Shift key to keep it straight and just pull that back and click on this one, same thing, pull that back a bit and here pull that back as well, then we will do the same for the arrows in this column.
Now this is in the wrong position and that's simply because this column is a little bit too narrow, so if I just straighten that out, there we go. Everything falls back into its correct position and we can adjust that arrow as well. So now because we've changed the width of these columns and moved the insets over we have room for what's essentially longer arrows here that when connected to the cell color here, make it look like this consists of arrows of different lengths.
So the settings might be a little fussy to set up here, but the nice thing about this now is we have a flow diagram that's all in one frame, we can move it around and it all moves together, and it can easily be edited in ways that would be much more cumbersome to do with trying to line up frames or tabs or some other technique that we might try to come up with. So just remember, you can anchor any kind of shape in a table, and you can manipulate things like the row strokes or other parts of the table to create all kinds of table objects that don't even look like tables.
Have some fun with it.
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