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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 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.
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