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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.
InDesign tables don't always have to look like Excel spreadsheets and their unique characteristics can be used to solve layout problems that don't even look like tables. Here is an example, this is a design element used by a financial institution throughout all of their collateral. It appears in hundreds of places. The thing is this large interest rate number gets updated everyday constantly and the designers have to do it. Problem is if we look at how this was built, and I will switch from Preview into Normal mode, it is a veritable rat's nest of frames and it's really hard to get in here to select that frame that has the interest rate number in it.
I am clicking, holding down the Command or Ctrl key, trying to click into frames here. Am I close, maybe that's it? Well, finally got it. Very frustrating and very time-consuming. We can make this sort of thing very easy to work with by using a table. If we create is using a table, it will look exactly like this but it'll be really easy to edit, because that interest rate number will be sitting in its own nice neat little table cell. The first thing we have to do if we want to create a table, especially, when it doesn't look like a table is figure out how many rows and columns we are going to need,.
I created a little overlay layer to help us visualize that a little more clearly. I can see we are going to need three rows and two columns. We will need one row for the percentage sign, another row for the APY text and a third row for that little text blurb at the bottom. We will need two columns, one for the interest rate number in the blurb and another for the % sign in the APY text. These dotted lines that you see here represent where we are going to merge the cells. So three rows and two columns, I'll turn that overlay off now, we don't need that anymore, and I have already created a text frame where we can insert our table.
I am going to go the Table menu and use the Insert Table command, and I need three rows and two columns. It's already set, click OK and here's our basic table. Now the first thing I am going to do is select these two cells where that interest rate number needs to go, and I'm in a right mouse click and merge them. Then I will select where the blurb goes and merge those two cells. Next, I need to make a couple of formatting changes here.
In the Cell Text Options I want to set all the Insets to 0. We want all the text to be able to bud- up right against the edge of each cell. The next thing I am going to do is turn off all of the Strokes, this is a stroke less table and the way I do that of course, is to set the Weight to 0. Now I need to start changing the size of some of these cells to make room for the information we need to put in them. I am going to drag this row down to make room for that interest rate number and move it over here.
I am going to type in just some placeholder text for now and I have made some character styles to apply the formatting, ah! European style, let's make that a decimal. Then in this cell goes our percentage sign, and in fact, let me scroll over a little bit so we can see our other example there, underneath that the APY text, and I have got character styles for both of those. Let's format the % sign. There we go, wrong character style, and I will select the APY text and apply that character style and then I'm just going to select this blurb and copy it into the clipboard, and then we'll paste that in here.
We are done with the character styles. Now looking at this I can see the spacing is definitely off, but it's really easy to fix. I'm going to bring the % sign and APY text over closer to the interest rate number by just pulling the site of the interest rate cell over. The interest rate and APY text are too tight here, and again, I am going to increase the spacing by just pulling down the bottom of the cell, this text is too far away, there we go, little more tweaking there. Now I will bring the edge of the table in, just to tidy things up, doesn't get any easier than that.
I mean all you have to do to change the spacing is move the edge of the cell around, fantastic! Now we have this interest rate number in its own little cell and it's really-really easy to edit, no frustration whatsoever. The last thing we will do to format our little element here is to put it in a frame with a rounded corner. Now tables don't have their own built-in feature for rounded corners unfortunately, but it's very easy to create that kind of effect. I have already drawn a frame with rounded corners and we're going to basically used the paste into command and put the table inside this frame.
I will tighten up the text frame by double-clicking on its corner and then I'm going to cut the table into the clipboard, Command+X or Ctrl+X I will click on this frame and instead of using the Paste command, Paste Into is the command that we want here. Now the table is inside this frame, but I can move it around by just grabbing the Content Grabber in CS5. 5 or in CS4, CS5, I can just use the direct Select tool. The table is still completely editable.
So as interest rates go up, we can make the change quickly. Finally, I'll bring our little pumpkin into place and there we go, let's setback our Preview mode. So both these things look the same, but there's one important difference, the one on the right that we just created is in a table and it's a really easy to edit. That's the important difference. If interest rates go up or down, we are there. So this is just one example, but anytime you have a grid where you have to go in and edit the text a lot, think about using a table for that, because by putting text into individual cells, it makes it really easy to get into those cells and edit your text.
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