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Sometimes the information in our table is not always a perfect rid of row and columns. And there are lots of reasons we might need to combine two or more cells or divide one cell into two. Fortunately InDesign makes it very easy to do this using the Merge and Split Cell commands. These commands are essential to formatting certain tables and can also add a lot of flexibility to your tables in the process. We're going to start with the simple table that doesn't have any data in it so we can more easily see the patterns we can create with Merge and Split. In order to merge cells we have to have at least two selected of course and then we can just use the contextual menu, bring up the Table menu and Merge the cells.
We can merge as many cells as we like. I can select an entire group of cells and merge them. The opposite emerging, of course, is to split the cells so if I select a smaller cell here I can split it horizontally or vertically, or I can take a group of cells that I've merged into one cell and it's just one cell so I can split that as well. If I've merged cells in addition to splitting them I can unmerge and it will go back into the original pattern that we have here.
So I can actually turn this table into the Mondrian pattern and merge lots of cells. Fill them with color, kind of fun. But really Merge an Split is all about formatting a more serious tables, and here we have a table that came in from Microsoft Excel and you'll see this first cell here has been merged.
That was merged in Excel so it comes over in InDesign that way. What I'd really like here is a row that goes all the way across so again I can select this top row and merge these cells. Down at the bottom here I can do the same thing. If I select these three cells and merge them the text doesn't get deleted. Of course, in this case I mean it's over but I can use cell and sits to push it back if I need to. If you merge two cells that both have text in them the text is maintained and the text from the second cell is put on a new line, there is a paragraph return in here.
In fact, let's go to Normal view and turn on our invisible characters Option+Command+I or Alt+Ctrl+I and you can see that there is a return character in here. So none of the text gets deleted. Each cell will add a new line divided by a paragraph return. If I merge cells that are two different patterns, the pattern and the formatting actually that's in the first cell in the range that I select to merge is what's going to take over as the formatting for all the merge cells. So if I select these four cells for example and merge them, the text is maintained divided by paragraph returns, the alignment that was assigned to this text is maintained, and the overall formatting as far as the cell Fill and Stroke and what have you is from the first cell that I selected here.
One more thing I'd like to share with you merging and splitting cells is actually a real-life example. I'm going to go to the next page and I wanted to show you this little example from a client. This is a slug that goes at the bottom of packaging and the information in here needs to be constantly updated. Well, the problem is as you can see it's just a big mess and it really, really was hard to edit. So what we did with this is we made it into a table. So here we have an InDesign table that we created by using a combination of Merge and Split commands in changing row strokes and fills and so forth, and now it's a table that's really easy to go into and edit.
So tables don't always have to look like tables, and especially with the Merge and Split commands you can really benefit from the underlying structure of a table without having your table look like a table at all.
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