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It should come as no surprise that of course InDesign can place image files, graphic files, and also text files, and spreadsheets. However, it is a little surprising for some users that InDesign actually treats text files and spreadsheet files slightly differently than image and graphic files. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to use File > Place, Command+D, Ctrl+D, and I am going to go ahead and choose an image and then I want to scroll down and hold the Command key or the Ctrl key and select this text file and the spreadsheet file as well. Let me go ahead and click Open.
It's going to load the gun with all three, so there's my text file first. I'll go and drag-select that or drag-place that. Here's the spreadsheet file. Let me go ahead and drag- place that as well. Great! It comes in as a table and then here's the graphic file. Okay, so everything seems standard and straightforward at this point. Let's go, take a look at the Links panel though and you can see that the check_06.psd file is showing up in the Links panel but this text file and the spreadsheet file are not.
And that's because by default, InDesign does not create links to the versions on disk for text and spreadsheet files like it does for images. The idea being that most people will bring these type of files into InDesign and if they are going to do any editing, the editing is going to be done in InDesign. But that's not always the case. Some people might continue to edit these in Word or Excel or whatever applications they are using to generate them. Once an edit has been made, they may want to have their designer get the latest version of that text or spreadsheet file. So it turns out InDesign does support that workflow just not on by default.
We just need to tell InDesign to behave that way. Here's how you do it. In your Preferences, Command+K or Ctrl+K, in the File Handling section, there's a checkbox that is turned off by default that says Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files. Pretty straightforward. Let's turn it on and see what happens. Go ahead and OK. Great! Let's go ahead and place the Excel file. That one is a little bit more interesting in terms of mapping that to a table style, which we'll talk about in just a second. I want to show the import options for this spreadsheet because you have a lot of control of how you bring text files and spreadsheet files in.
I want to do it temporarily to show the import options. Yes, I could turn on but then it would always be on and I'll forget about it later. So the temporary way to open the import options is to hold down the Shift key and click Open and this brings up the dialog box for how you want the Excel file to be treated. I am going to have it come in as an unformatted table and then I am going to map the table to a Table Style that I have already created in this document. So it's pretty handy to use Cell Styles and Table Styles and pre-formatted a table by building up these styles.
You can just apply that style to the spreadsheet as it comes in. You'll go and click OK and I am going ahead and drag-place this and you'll see it pop in and it's going to start looking a lot nicer than the first time we placed it because the Table Style is kicking in. Now, I want to go ahead and make this column just a little bit wider so I don't get the lines wrapping. This is looking great. Now this Table Style happens to have a header row defined in it but I don't have a header row actually specified in the table itself.
So I am going to select the row, I am going to right-click or Ctrl-click and in the context menu say Convert to Header Rows. Once I do that and deselect it, you'll see that reverses the text out and makes it a black bar. Looking great! So I don't have all of the text being shown here. So I am going to get my Selection tool. I am going to just make this frame a little bit taller to make room for that last row. Great! Let's take a look at the Links panel and you'll see sure enough, Top20.xls is now listed in here as a normal link, which means I can invoke Edit Original.
So I am going to select that file and choose the Edit Original button at the bottom of the Links panel. I can Option+Double-click or Alt+Double -click on it as well and that will pop open in Excel, if it's not already launched. And I'll just do some simple edit. I am going to go ahead and select these rows here and I am going to change their sort order. Instead of from 1 to 20, it's going to go from 20 down. Change my sort, I am going to go ahead and save the file and I am going to jump back over to InDesign and you'll see I get a message saying, hey, you've done some editing that may or may not be supported.
Update the file anyway? Yes, all I have done is a sort change. So what does happen is I do lose the demarcation of that top row being a header row but because I use the Table Style the first time when I imported the Excel spreadsheet and mapped this to that Table Style, all the formatting just gets reapplied. The only thing I need to do now is just go ahead and select that row again, right-click and say Convert to Header Rows, so I get my header row back. But you can see the sort order was now updated and changed in the InDesign document.
So once you establish the ability to link to spreadsheet files and text files, you have that same sort of Edit Original workflow you do with graphics as well.
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