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Where do tables usually come from? Well most of the time, they come from some Microsoft product; either Word, or Excel. So let's take a moment to look at how InDesign imports these tables, and what happens when the original file gets updated. When you import a Word or Excel document, you have the choice to link to it, or not. By default, InDesign does not link to Word or Excel documents, and that's usually a good thing. But sometimes, when it comes to tables, it's actually quite helpful to link to them. I am going to go ahead and delete this table that we worked so painstakingly on, by deleting these two frames, and I'm going to bring in a fresh Excel document.
Now I have that Excel document open right now in Excel. Let's take a look at it. It's a very plain worksheet; nothing is fancy about it. No formatting, or anything; you see that it's just data in rows and columns. To get that into InDesign, I need to use the Place command from the File menu. But before I choose the Place command, I am going to tell InDesign to link to this file. You have to set it up in advance, and you do that inside the Preferences dialog box. On the Mac, you go to the InDesign menu, and choose Preferences > File Handling.
On Windows, you'd go to Preferences > File Handling from the Edit menu. Inside the File Handling pane of the Preferences dialog box, there is a checkbox: Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files. Like I said, by default, it's off. I am going to turn it on right now, and I'm going to show you what happens when you do create a link. Click OK. Now I'll go place this document; choose Place from the File menu, grab my Excel document, and I am going to make sure the Show Import Options dialog box is turned on.
I like having that on when I import spreadsheets, because it lets me have a lot of control about what gets imported, and how. I'll click Open; up comes the Import Options dialog box, and you can see that if there were more than one worksheet in this Excel document, I could choose which one I want. In this case, there is only one. I can also choose which cells to import. For example, maybe I only want the first 15 rows; I can do that here. Most importantly, I can tell InDesign whether to honor the formatting that's in Excel or not.
If I'd choose Formatted Table, then it's going to bring in the formatting from Excel as best as it can. Most of the time, I choose Unformatted Table, because I don't want that really ugly formatting from Excel. I want to do the formatting myself in InDesign. The last thing I am going to do is choose a Table Style. I made this Table Style earlier on in this chapter, so I can choose it here. There is really no difference between choosing it here in this dialog box, or importing the table, and then applying the table style from the Table Styles panel. But this is a little bit faster I suppose; I'll just choose it here, and click OK.
It loads the place cursor, and I'll click, and drag. I am going to zoom in here to 200%, and pan up, so I can see the top of the table. I don't know why InDesign brings this table in so narrow. In a Word document, it let's it expand, but here, it brings it in a pretty narrow column, and because it is a narrow column, we see this red dot. That red dot is the overset mark; it's a little bit different than what you get on a text frame, but in a table, it looks like that little red dot. It just means there's more text than can fit into this little cell.
So I'll double-click on this table to switch to the Type tool, and just drag that out a little bit. Now you can see that the text does fit, and the overset mark goes away. Now InDesign has no idea that that first row should be a header, so I am going to have to do that manually. I'll just select that row, go to Table, and say Convert Rows > To Header. Same thing with our section styles; I'll place my cursor in there, open my Cell Styles panel, and I'll make that a Section. Now we could go ahead and make some changes here; all the things we've been talking about earlier on in this chapter.
Make this more narrow. So, we have our table in InDesign. Now what I want to point out is the Links panel. Let's go ahead and close this Cell Styles panel, and I can see that in the Links panel, there is that Excel document. It's actually linked in this document, and just like my linked images, that means if the Excel document changes, then it will update as modified here. Let's go make a change. I'll switch back to Excel, and I am going to make a change. Let's go ahead and change this from Roux East, to Roux North.
I'll make a couple of these Roux North; let's put them all at Roux North. How about that? You get the idea; I'll leave that one alone. I'll save this, Command+S or Control+S, go back to InDesign, and we can see that in the Links panel, it shows up as Modified. If we had our Frame Edges turned on in InDesign, we could actually see a little modified icon in the upper left corner of the table itself. But in this case, we have the Frame Edges hidden, so we don't see that. I'll double-click on this, and InDesign throws up this big alert that says, watch out; if you've made any local edits to your table, they're all going to get lost.
Well, in this case, I haven't made any edits, so I am just going to go ahead and click Yes. You'll see that InDesign immediately updates all the data in the table, and it looks great. Now, I should clarify; I said that we didn't make any local edits. Well, we did make some local edits, didn't we? We changed the Cell Style up here, and we made this a Header. Those are things that InDesign can keep track of, so we don't have a problem. But if we had started adding rows, and columns, or if we had done something like select some text here, and I'll make it italic, and I'll change its color-- let's make it red, and make it bold italic; stuff like that--that is a local edit that we are going to have trouble maintaining when we update our spreadsheet.
I'll close Swatches, open Links, and I am going to jump to that spreadsheet by clicking the Edit Original button inside the Links panel. That launches Excel, opens the document; in this case, it was already open, and lets me edit it. Let's go ahead and make some more changes. Now let's put all of these in West instead. I'll just copy and paste these down. I'll make these changes, and I'll press Save. Now I'll go back to InDesign, which warns me right away that edits have been made. It's going to automatically update, because we used that edit original feature.
So if I click Yes, what happens? It wipes out all the local formatting. It updated the data; that's good, but I lost my local formatting. That's bad. So what do you do if you need to maintain your local formatting? For example, I'll go back, and once again, change this to Bold Italic, and I'll make it Red, and we'll make it much bigger; you know, you get the idea. What if I need to maintain all of that, but I still need to update the data? Well, the solution is easier than you think. I'll go back to Excel, and I'll change this; this time it's going to be going to Roux East, and we'll copy that, and paste this down.
To make this change in InDesign, I'm not going to save and update it. Instead, I am going to use my old friend copy and paste. That's right; I can copy and paste data from Excel or Word into InDesign. I'll select this entire column, and I'll copy it with Command+C or Control+C, and now I'll switch back to InDesign, and paste it. I'll select this column here, and choose Paste. In this case, all the data is updated, and it maintained the local formatting that I applied.
So if you need to make local changes to your table, then consider using copy and paste whenever there's updated data. Now here, if I look in the Links panel, I can see that the Excel file is still linked. It doesn't show up as modified, because I didn't save it. So let's go back to Excel, and save it, come back to InDesign; there we go. Now it's still linked, and it's modified. So what are we going to do? Am I going to leave it linked? No. In this case, because I want to maintain the formatting that I want to keep in there, I don't want to maintain this link anymore. So while that's selected in the Links panel, I'll go to the Links panel flyout menu, and choose Unlink.
The table stays, the data stays, but there is no longer a link to the original Excel document. Now it's completely embedded inside the InDesign document. And now, before we move on, I am going to go back to the Preferences dialog box, and turn off that preference that I turned on. InDesign > Preferences > File Handling; I am going to turn off Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files. It's a good idea to turn that option off when you don't need to, otherwise you might accidentally start linking to Word files, or other files that you import.
And while I don't mind linking to a spreadsheet, I really don't like linking to Word files. That can get you into a lot of trouble. You pretty much can't avoid these Word and Excel documents, so you might as well try and live the best you can with them. These tools, especially that ability to copy and paste cell data, really makes life easier.
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