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This course explores the powerful but occasionally mysterious table features in InDesign, illustrating how they can be used efficiently and to their best advantage. Author Diane Burns demonstrates how to set up a table, format it using Table commands, and capture that formatting in table styles as well as how to work with images and update the information in tables without losing formatting. The course also shows how to use tables that don’t look like tables to offer solutions to layout problems, like setting up images and captions or simplifying complex text frames.
One thing I hope you'll be able to take away from this course besides of course a real comfort level with using tables, is that you'll be able to step back and think about using InDesign's table features for things that don't look like tables. One of the most interesting features I think is that you can set row height in a way that it will grow or shrink depending on how much text is in the cell. I mean that's incredible. No other frame does that. That means you can use it for things like we see on this page where we have these blocks of text with a tint behind them. Each one has a different amount of text.
Now, there are any number of ways you could do this. But, one of them is to use a table. I'm going to zoom in a little bit, and switch to the Type tool, and then I'll go out of Preview Mode so you can see a little bit more what's happening. Each of these what looks like a text frame is actually a one cell table. I mean who said cell tables have to be two cells? So we have a one cell table where the row height is set to Grow or Shrink according to the amount of text that's within it, and there's a gray tint in the background.
Because there's only one column in this table, the column and the cell width are the same. If we add text to one of these frames, and I'm just going to copy a little bit of text here, and paste it in, the cell grows. If we delete text, it shrinks. Again, there's no other frame in InDesign that will do that. The formatting for the cell is part of a cell style. We'll take a look at that. So here we have a style called info_ box and if we take a look at that, we can see that our Cell Insets are set, and that's the amount that the text is pushing away from the edge of the cell and we have a tint in it. Beautiful! Now, one other thing to note is that these one cell tables are actually sitting on a paragraph of their own and that paragraph is set to Auto Leading.
That's important because Auto Leading is kind of flexible, and will lead by the amount of whatever the largest character is in any given line, and in this case, the object, the table is the largest character. So that's why the leading is increasing and decreasing as we change the size of the frame; in this case, the cell. We also have space before and after applied to this paragraph return and so we made it into a paragraph style. So because of this unique characteristic that table cells have, that they can grow and shrink, we have a really great solution to this particular layout.
I'm going to close the Cell Styles panel, and let's look at another example. I'm going to turn to the next page, Shift+Page Down and zoom back a little bit. Let's go back into Preview Mode, so you can get a better look at what this page looks like, and let's take a closer look at this pull quote. This is a table. I'm going to switch back to Normal View. So this is a pull quote type object that appears in every issue of this magazine, in this particular section of the magazine, and it always has these parentheses at the top and bottom, and it always has these titles Pros and Cons.
But, under Pros and Cons, the number of items that are pros or cons may change from issue to issue. Instead of three pros, there might be four. How about good food? Now, you'll notice that when I added that line of type, I didn't have to adjust anything else in this pull quote, or in this little sidebar if you will, and that's because this also is a table. Let's take a closer look. I've made a copy of the table on the next page in this file, and we can sort of take it apart.
So this is a table, if we look at the Table Setup, that is six rows by one column, and again, who said a table has to be more than one column? The first row contains this graphic which is an outlined parentheses, this row is on a fixed height. But, this row and this row are where the magic happens. These rows are set to Grow, and that means that if you add or subtract a line, the entire layout module if you will is going to move with it.
I mean, this is really a case if you think about what the alternatives are, they're not pretty. If these were separate items in separate frames, every time you had an edit here or here, you'd have to move this item up, or pull it down. Here, everything stays in place. The distance from the baseline of this line to the baseline here is really controlled not only by the height of this row, but by the insets. So everything is positioned perfectly. Nothing else can do this sort of thing like a table can, and if you sit back and think about what tables can do, well, you can start to understand why I'm so crazy about the table features in InDesign.
Try going a little nuts yourself!
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