InDesign CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables


InDesign CS6 Essential Training

with David Blatner

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Video: Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables

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.
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  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 48s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 51s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 17s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 9s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 33m 11s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 5s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 55s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign CS6 Essential Training
8h 24m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

InDesign is an essential tool for design firms, ad agencies, magazines, newspapers, book publishers, and freelance designers around the world. This course presents the core features and techniques that make this powerful page layout application fun and easy to use. Author David Blatner shows how to navigate and customize the workspace, manage documents and pages, work with text frames and graphics, export and print finished documents, explore creating interactive documents, and much more. He also covers popular topics such as EPUBs and long documents and includes advice on working with overset text, unnamed colors, and other troublesome issues that may arise for first-time designers.

Topics include:
  • Getting started in just 30 minutes: the quick start guide to InDesign
  • Understanding your workspace
  • Creating and setting up new documents
  • Creating and applying master pages
  • Entering and editing text
  • Placing graphics
  • Working with color and gradients
  • Editing frame and path shapes
  • Working with layers, objects, and groups
  • Rotating and scaling objects
  • Applying character and paragraph formatting
  • Using styles
  • Creating and formatting tables
  • Exporting to EPUB and interactive PDF
  • Packaging, printing, and exporting your final document
David Blatner

Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables

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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