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Mastering row and column strokes

From: InDesign Tables In Depth

Video: Mastering row and column strokes

One thing we can modify in a table that can really improve on its design is to change the row and column strokes that normally appear as those boring default one point black lines. Changing the format of table strokes is not the most intuitive or easiest to learn features, but once you know how, you'll appreciate the power and flexibility it gives you in creating more interesting tables. Let's start simple with a single table cell. I'm going to click in the cell and press the Escape key to select it and we'll start with the Cell Options > Strokes and Fill dialog, so you can see a little bit more easily.

Mastering row and column strokes

One thing we can modify in a table that can really improve on its design is to change the row and column strokes that normally appear as those boring default one point black lines. Changing the format of table strokes is not the most intuitive or easiest to learn features, but once you know how, you'll appreciate the power and flexibility it gives you in creating more interesting tables. Let's start simple with a single table cell. I'm going to click in the cell and press the Escape key to select it and we'll start with the Cell Options > Strokes and Fill dialog, so you can see a little bit more easily.

The way we control table strokes is to use this proxy that's in the dialog here and the proxy sometimes can be a little difficult to get your head around, so we're going take a look at that. Each line of this proxy represents one line in the cell that I have selected. The left stroke here represents the left side here, the bottom, the bottom here and so forth. And then below that we have the controls that we normally have for strokes and we can change those as we like.

And whatever part of the proxy is selected is the part that will be modified. So let's start with a 3 point stroke that's cyan and click OK. There we have a stroke around the entire cell. You'll also notice that the left side of this cell put an override on the border. So we can override the border and actually control the border using individual cell strokes. I am going to undo that and now I am going to select two cells and take a look at that proxy again.

Now the proxy looks a little bit different and it represents all the strokes in the two cells that I have selected and again if I change this to a 3 point stroke of a different color, that change is applied here. I am going to undo it. The middle line of this proxy here represents the middle stroke here. So if I turn that off and then change the stroke, Weight and Color, I just have a border around all the cells.

And one more example, I am going to undo this. I am going to select now four cells and go back to our Stokes and Fill dialog and now our proxy represents all the strokes in these four cells. And if for example I want to turn off the inside strokes and just draw a box around these for cells as it were, I can turn off these proxy lines by clicking on them. And notice if I click on the intersection they both turn off and then I can change the Weight and the Color and it's reflected and updated in the table.

We can also use the Stroke panel to apply strokes to table cells along with the Swatches panel to apply the appropriate color. But there is one possibly serious caveat to using the Stroke panel that I'll talk about in a few moments. So in the meantime, I am going to keep using the dialog box. I'm going to undo this change and now select the entire table. And again we'll go back to the Strokes and Fill dialog. Now this proxy works a little bit differently.

Up until now with the examples we've seen each stroke of the proxy has a one-to-one relationship to a stroke in the table cell. But now we've got a lot of cells selected and it works a little bit differently. The outside strokes on this proxy do still have a one to one relationship with the outside strokes of this table, the border really which we can also control here. But the inside strokes, this one vertical represents all of the vertical strokes in the table, and this horizontal stroke represents all of the horizontal strokes in the table, so we have a one to many relationship in the representation of the proxy.

Let's take a look at how that works. I am going to turn off all of the inside strokes in the proxy and then I'm going to change the Weight and Color and if we take a look at that, you can see that I've basically just put a cyan border on this table. I am going to undo that and go back to our dialog box. And this time, I'm going to turn off the outside strokes on the table and again notice that I'm just clicking on the intersection of the proxy lines here to turn them off more quickly.

I'll change this to 3 points Cyan and you can see that all of the internal strokes have been changed because all the strokes and fills in the table are represented by single lines in the proxy in the dialog box. Now, what if we want to completely change the pattern of these row and column strokes? Let's take a look at another example. Here we have a table with alternating fills and a different color for a header row and let's say that we want to change the stroke patterns completely from what they are now.

The first step is to select the entire table and we'll go to our Strokes and Fill dialog and when trying to reestablish new patterns throughout your table, just turn off all of the row and column strokes and the correct way to do that is to change the Weight to zero. Don't try to change the Color to Paper or something else clever, because if you do, you'll still have a stroke that's the Weight specified here and it will affect the position of your text within the table. So I've set all of the strokes in this table to zero, I've essentially turned them off.

And when we take a look at that, there are no strokes at all. And in fact, the table looks pretty good as it is because the alternating fills tell us clearly where the information is and divide the information clearly for us. But let's add some strokes and come up with a different pattern. I'll select the table again and back to our dialog box and now I'm going to apply a stroke pattern to the row strokes here. So I am going to turn off all of the vertical strokes and I actually don't want to stroke on the top line across the top of the table, so I'll turn off this proxy.

So now I am going to change all of the insides cell strokes with this line in the proxy and the bottom line with this line. I'm going to change this to be 3 points so we can see it clearly and we'll choose goldenrod-2. When I click OK and check the results, you'll see that I got exactly what I wanted. I have these row strokes throughout the table, but not on the top row of the table, exactly what I wanted.

Let's put in some column strokes and notice I have to reset the proxy and I don't have any Weight shown here because we have mixed values here. But I'm going to turn off all of the strokes in the table including the outside edges, because I don't want a vertical stroke on the outside of this table and I am going to focus just on the inside stroke here. Let's make that 3 points of another color and click OK. Looks pretty good and it's not a 1 point black stroke, I like that.

But there's one thing I don't like about this. Let's zoom up a little bit. You'll notice that all of the row strokes have drawn on top of the column strokes and that's not really what I wanted. This is the default order that you get when you apply strokes using the Strokes and Fills dialog. To reverse this, we have to go to the controls for the entire table. So I have my blinking cursor in this cell. I am going to use the keyboard shortcut to open the Table Options dialog. That's Shift+Option+Command+B or Shift+Alt+ Ctrl+B.So here is our Table Options dialog.

Notice that I was able to open it without selecting the whole table. I want to come down here to Stroke Drawing Order. And you see I have several options here. What I really want is to bring the Column Strokes in Front. Turn on Preview will help and that's exactly what I wanted. So, we can use the Table Options set up to control the drawing order of these strokes. That brings me to the limitation of using the Stroke panel along with the Swatches panel.

Let's take a look at how that works. Here are two very simple tables and I'm going to apply strokes to them using the Stroke and Swatches panel. Let's open the Stroke panel and I'll pull it out from the group and then let's drag our Swatches panel down here and I'm going to join these together by dragging the Swatches panel up over the Stroke panel. Now the problem with using the Stroke and Swatches panel is it's much harder to control the drawing order of the strokes. Let me show you how that would work.

I am going to select this first table and now I see this proxy just as we saw in our dialog box. The first thing I'm going to do is set all of the row strokes to be really obvious color a 3 point Weight and we'll make them Cyan. I need to switch my Swatch icon so that I bring the stroke to the front and I am going to make that Cyan. And now I'm going to set the vertical column strokes to be a different color, let's make those Yellow.

And I missed one here, this has to do with the proxy selection. In the previous example you saw that when we use the dialog box, the drawing order is that the Row Strokes are always on top. When you use the Stroke panel and the Swatches panel together, the drawing order is the order that you put the strokes down in, in other words, the first strokes I put down with the row strokes, so those are on the bottom and the last stroke that I put down was the column stroke, so that's on top. If this is not what I want, the problem is that this Table Setup option for Stroke Drawing Order has no effect.

Let's say I want the Row Strokes in front. If I do that, absolutely nothing happens. So if I wanted the Row Strokes on top I would have to draw those second. So on this second example I'm going to take the verticals and this time, I'll turn off that proxy which was giving me this stroke here, the proxy works and I'm going to make the column strokes first, so I'll make those 3 points yellow. Let's take a look. That looks good. And now I'm going to draw the Row Strokes.

So just as in our previous example, I'll make this 3 points cyan and now they are on top and I can't switch the order. The only way I can do that is if now I go back in and modify the Column Strokes, then they'll be on top. So it's kind of crazy making. There is an advantage to using the Stroke panel and that you may have noticed that each time I selected the table, the stroke proxy remembered my last setup for that. So that's good, but you can't change the drawing order. So that's one caveat of using the Strokes panel.

Whether you use the Strokes and Swatches panel or the Strokes and Fills dialog, don't be afraid to modify your table strokes, 1 point black is boring. And once you understand how strokes and the table proxy works, it's really easy to break out of the boring with creative stroke patterns.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for InDesign Tables In Depth
InDesign Tables In Depth

38 video lessons · 13108 viewers

Diane Burns
Author

 
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  1. 1m 21s
    1. Introduction
      49s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 11m 20s
    1. The three "Golden Rules"
      2m 45s
    2. Accessing table commands
      2m 20s
    3. Navigating and selecting tables
      3m 14s
    4. Where do tables come from?
      3m 1s
  3. 1h 2m
    1. Positioning tables in a text frame
      5m 38s
    2. Setting table borders
      6m 3s
    3. Inserting and deleting rows and columns
      5m 22s
    4. Setting header and footer rows
      3m 20s
    5. Working with alternating strokes and fills
      7m 35s
    6. Setting row height and column width
      7m 13s
    7. Formatting text in a cell
      4m 51s
    8. Positioning text in a cell
      3m 50s
    9. Mastering row and column strokes
      11m 31s
    10. Working with cell fills
      4m 28s
    11. Setting diagonal lines in tables
      2m 57s
  4. 22m 55s
    1. Merging and splitting cells
      4m 16s
    2. Creating tables with rounded-corner borders
      5m 33s
    3. Rotating text in a cell
      6m 13s
    4. Using gradients in tables
      4m 28s
    5. Dealing with overset text
      2m 25s
  5. 25m 55s
    1. Understanding the limitations of table and cell styles
      4m 28s
    2. Setting up and applying cell styles
      8m 21s
    3. Setting up and applying table styles
      7m 15s
    4. Using cell styles to "clean up" table styles
      5m 51s
  6. 18m 13s
    1. Working with linked files
      11m 55s
    2. Using Cut and Paste to update table data
      6m 18s
  7. 16m 41s
    1. Placing images in tables
      8m 33s
    2. Using graphics frames in tables
      8m 8s
  8. 16m 54s
    1. Using shapes to change cell corners
      8m 2s
    2. Creating infographics with tables
      8m 52s
  9. 17m 36s
    1. Simplifying complex text frames with tables
      5m 59s
    2. Setting up images and captions with tables
      6m 33s
    3. Creating pull quotes and design objects using tables
      5m 4s
  10. 12m 2s
    1. Comparing table styling for best export results
      6m 58s
    2. Converting tables to graphics for export
      5m 4s
  11. 50s
    1. Next steps
      50s

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