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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.
Since most tables have text in each cell, whether it's alphabetical or numerical information, it's important to understand how to format text within each cell of your table. The good news is that text formatting is the same in tables as it is for any text in a regular old text frame in InDesign and the best technique still holds true too, Use Paragraph Styles. First, I can click in a cell as I am here and then just use the Select All command which is Command+A on Mac or Ctrl+A on Windows.
That selects the text in the cell, but not the cell itself. I can also just click in a cell and press the Escape key that's selecting the cell and the text, but since we're just formatting the text, it doesn't matter that the cell is selected as well. If I press the Escape key again, I toggle back to selecting all the text. If I use the Tab key to move from cell to cell, the text is still selected or if I've pressed the Escape key and the whole cell is selected, when I press the Tab key, the subsequent cell is selected as well.
Now I can select the text in any part of this table. I am going to select the first row and then I can use all of the text formatting commands that I'm familiar with. For example, if I want to change the font in this first row, I'm going to come up to the Control panel and highlight the Font list and type in let's say Ariel. When I press the Tab key, all the text has changed formatting. Any kind of text format that I can apply to regular text can be applied to tables as well.
One thing that does get a little tricky though is if you want to change the color of the text in a table. Let's say that I want to change the color of all the text in this table. How do I do it? Well, the first I am going to select the entire table and then the best way to do this is to open the Swatches panel and be sure that you click on the little T icon which indicates that you're going to be applying a swatch to the text within and now we can make this a color and I'll deselect the table and you can see that all the text within the table has a color applied to it.
I'm going to undo that. So we can do any kind of direct formatting to the table, but as I mentioned just as with regular InDesign text, the very best way to format tables is to use paragraph styles. Now I've created a few paragraph styles and let's apply them. First, I'm going to click the top row of the table and apply the style that I have already created called table_head. That changes the font. It centers the text and makes the text bold.
Next, I want to change the text in this first column so I'll simply select the first column of text and apply my paragraph style. It's that easy. Finally, I'm going to select all of my table data and apply the paragraph style aptly titled table_data and there we have it. So all the rules are the same, there's nothing different and I can even go back and modify my style now. One thing I'm noticing for example is that I don't really like the alignment of this information in these cells, in fact, what I'd really like to have is for all of these times to be lined up on the colon symbol that separates the minutes from seconds.
Well, we can set tabs inside of table cells just as we would in regular text. Let's take a look at that. I am going to highlight this entire first column. I could just do this to one cell but we'll select the entire column and I'm going to open the Tabs panel. So from the Type menu, I'll choose Tabs and here we have our familiar Tabs panel. It looks the same as it would be in text, but notice that the right indent is set to the width of the cell.
I'm going to choose this Align to Tab and click in the middle here. But the default for this tab character is that it aligns on a decimal, but I've changed it so that it aligns on a colon and as soon as I've done that, you can see that the text aligns up very nicely and now I can move the position of the tab to align those numbers up exactly as I want. Once, I've done this of course my paragraph style is showing an override and I can simply redefine the style, I'm going to right mouse click on that style name and choose Redefine.
Now the style definition is changed and all the text that has that style applied to it, updates. It's very easy. Formatting text inside a table is in fact as easy as any text in InDesign and good practices apply like making use of paragraph styles.
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