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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.
Some people don't even realize that you can place images in tables and a lot of people have tried it and just given up in frustration. I want to show you a few things that hopefully will make you a lot more comfortable working with images in your tables. It's really as easy as using the File > Place command, but there are a few things you need to know about controlling the positioning of images in table cells in order to use them successfully. We're going to place some images in the first column of this table. So I'm going to switch from Preview to Normal mode, and it's really as easy as using the File > Place command.
I'm going to double-click in this cell and you see I have a blinking cursor there and then I'll go to the File menu and Place, and from our Assets folder I'm going to place this first image by just double-clicking, and there it is. That wasn't so painful. Once the image is in the cell, if I click on it I can see that it's an anchored object. And one more thing I want to do before we go any further is change the Display Performance to High Quality Display so we can see these images a little more clearly. Now, because this image is like an in- line or anchored object, we can control a few things about it.
For one thing I can center it in this cell by using the Paragraph Alignment Center commands, just like I would if it was text. So I'm going to switch to the Type tool, and actually I'm going to want to do that for all the cells in this column. So I'll select them all and click on the Align Center icon. That looks pretty good. Another thing that I can do with this image once it's in this cell because I can select it is I can scale it. I'm going to hold down Shift+Command or Shift+Ctrl and just grab the corner and you'll notice that as I'm resizing it that the row height changes.
That's because the row height is set to grow. It's not a fixed height. But I do want to make these rows a fixed height because I want to make them all the same. So I'm going to switch back to the Type tool and select all these rows and we're going to change the setting from At Least, which is the growing setting for row height. I'm going to change that to Exactly, and I'd like to make all of these 8 picas high. So there we go, except we have a little problem here.
This little red circle is precisely the reason that a lot of people try using images in tables and just give up in frustration. Here, when we change to a fixed height row-column height, we have over set. And because this is an image I can't really click to get in there, and that's when people usually start grumbling under their breath and give up, because really the first question is, how do you get into this cell? Well, the way you get into this cell is to use keyboard shortcuts. Remember, pressing the Tab key moves our cursor to next cell and pressing Shift+Tab brings it to this previous cell.
So, I'm going to just hold down Shift+Tab, and now I'm in that cell, and now I'm going to hold down Option+Command or Alt +Ctrl+B and open our Cell Options+Text dialog, and there are few changes that we need to make inherent that's going to make it all good for us. First of all, generally, when you're working with images in table cells it's a good idea to set the Cell Insets to 0. So we're going to do that, and in this case that alone fix this problem.
But what if it didn't fix our problem? I'm going to make this image a little bit larger still, so I'm holding down Shift+Command or Ctrl. I'm just going to scale it up a bit. There we go. So I want our problem back so I can show you how to solve it. I'll click in this cell to the right and then Shift+Tab back to that cell and there are two other settings that we need to make. The most important one is to change the First Baseline. It's because of this setting that InDesign is pushing this image out of the cell when we have a fixed row height.
So I'm going to change the Offset to Fixed. And you can see right-away I can already see the image because InDesign is placing the baseline, which in this case it seizes the bottom of the image at a fixed height, in this case 0, from the top of the cell, which is treating like a little text frame. The other change that I like to make and then I think it's a good idea to do is to change the alignment from the top to the bottom. And now I can see the image, and more importantly I can get to it to resize it and change it and modify in any way I want to make it fit in that cell properly.
So I'm going to click OK and choose my Selection tool and now I can hold down Shift+Command or Ctrl and I can just make this the correct size. It's very easy to get to, and because it's an in-line object, I can even raise it a little bit if I want to. So those three settings are really important and because I know I'm going to put images in these other cells, I'm going to just go ahead and select the other cells in this column and go back to my Cell Options dialog using the keyboard shortcuts Option+Command or Alt+Ctrl+B, and we're going to change those three settings for all the cells in this column.
So number one, I want to make the Cell Insets 0. Number two, I'm going to make the Vertical Justification aligned to the bottom. That's not really what makes these images accessible to us but the most important setting of all is to set this First Baseline to a Fixed Offset. Now, that these cells have that setting I can start placing images. So Command or Ctrl+D and I'll bring in a lovely Austrian timepiece here and so I can select it and hold down Shift +Command or Ctrl and resize it.
That didn't hurt one bit. Go to the next cell, Command or Ctrl+D and let's bring in a Grecian urn, and that's a nice size graphic. So I'm going to select it and start scaling it down. Now, with this image there's one more thing I want to show you. Let's say that what we want with this image is not really the whole thing but we really want to close-up the main part of the base. I need to get into this cell and I can't really just click in it because the image is in the way. So I'm going to go to the cell to the right and Shift+Tab to get in it and then go back to our Cell Options > Text dialog.
And there's one more setting that is important when we're working with images and that is Clip Contents to Cell. I'm going to turn that on and when we use this setting InDesign will essentially crop or mask any image that's in a cell to that cell. And so now, I can click on this image and I can drag it down into position so that the main bull of the vase is there. I could even scale it up if I want to. If I again select the image, I can use the keyboard shortcuts for scaling an image, Option+Command or Alt+Ctrl and Period makes it larger, so we can really scale up or maybe that's a little too close in, so I can use Option+Command or Alt+Ctrl and the Comma key to scale down.
Looking good and it's not hurting a bit as I say, and we'll put one more image in Command+D and let's put in our little French plate. Wow! Was that lucky or what? It fit in perfectly. Let's go for the whole run. There is a piece of furniture that we can again scale down. I'm using the keyboard shortcuts and I can just drag it up into position because it's an anchored object. So you can see that placing images is not that difficult.
Our table looks pretty good and once we know the settings we need to make in the cells, it's pretty easy to do. Thing is, you just need to remember, in most situations you'll need to set that First Baseline to Fixed and adjust the Vertical Justification so that you can control the positioning. But using images and tables opens up all kinds of possibilities. Remember too that you can even turn off all the row and column strokes in the cell fills and use the table to structure any kind of series where you have text in an image like instructions or steps of how to do things.
Tables don't always have to have fills and strokes, so with images and the flexibility that you really have with tables plus their grid structure underneath, well, the possibilities are limitless.
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