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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.
Table styles speed up design, but they can't do everything. Sometimes we need to apply an additional cell style to get the look we want. Let's take a look at a few examples. I've already opened the Table Styles and Cell Styles panel from the Window Styles menu. Here we have a table that already has a table style applied, tide_table, and I am going to apply it to the table down below. This table is unformatted, except of course, we already set the row, height, and column width, because we can't apply that in styles. So I've selected the table and I'm going to apply the style.
Well, that looks pretty good. Let me deselect everything. I am holding down Shift+Command+A or Ctrl+A. That's not quite right. If we click in this cell, we can see that the cell style header_cells has been applied. When a cell style is used inside a table style, you can click in the cell and tell which cell style it is, because the name of it appears down here. It doesn't get highlighted in the panel, but we can see which style it is here. Well, this is one of the most common reasons that we have to use extra cell styles to fix our tables.
We only have one style that we can apply to the entire header row. So that means, any time this right and left cell of the header row is different from all the other cells in header row, we have to bring out an extra cell style. And if you look at this design, you can see that most of the header rows or the center header rows have strokes on both sides of them, but the left and right side only have a stroke on one side, so we need to create a cell style to fix that. We'll create the cell style by simply selecting these cells. It's the easiest way to do it.
And so with this cell selected, I'll go to the Cell Styles panel and hold down Option or Alt and click on Create New Style. Let's call this one left_header_ fix, because that's what it is. Notice, that the style has also picked up the most important thing here and that is the Left Stroke Weight is turned off. It's set to 0. Now we'll do the same thing for the rightmost cell in the header row, I'll select it by pressing the Escape key and then we'll Option or Alt click on the Cell Styles Create New Style icon, and let's call this guy right_header_fix.
Now that we've created these cell styles, it's really easy to go in and correct the formatting for this table. Here is our left_header_fix and there's our right_header_fix. So even if you had a lot of tables in your document with this table style applied and you had to go back and fix the header row corners, it's not so bad. It's pretty easy to do as long as you create a cell style to speed along the process. Fixing the style of your header row is one of the most common reasons that you'll need to create these extra cell styles, because remember, when we assign a cell style in our table style, we have to apply one for the entire header row, we can't break out the left cell or the right cell of that entire header row.
And lots of times our designs have a different stroke treatment on one side or the other, of these outside cells. Let's take a look at a slightly different kind of example. I am going to turn to the next page, Shift+Page down, and here we have the table that also has a table style applied to it and if I click around, I can see that there is a Header cell style, there's one it's cut off in the panel here, but it's a left column style, and then this part of the table has the same cell style applied to it, again, via the table style called body_cell.
The problem in this table is that this one column of all the body cells should be centered. The style calls for them to be right aligned. So in this case we have to start by creating a paragraph style that will fix this. I am going to open the Paragraph Styles panel and the paragraph style is called table_text2. I am going to make a duplicate of that and we'll call this table_text_centered. I'll change the Alignment and then I am going to select this column where we need to center the text and apply the paragraph style.
Now, if this is the only fix you need to do your table, you don't really have to create a cell style, you can just apply the paragraph style. But this is another thing that comes up a lot in tweaking the formatting from table styles. One more example is this table. We have a table style applied and that style is what's giving us the alternating fill patterns here, two Pantone colors, alternating on every other row. But the design of this table calls for creating the effect of both alternating row fills and column fills.
Well, you can't do that in InDesign and one of the reasons is InDesign doesn't really know what to do with the colors where these two fill patterns intersect. We've made a design decision to make these cells a light tint of this primary pantone color and then these cells are a tint of this teal color. In this case, we simply created cell styles that apply these fills to the cells. And then yes, we had to go through and select each one, one by one, you can't select noncontiguous cells and apply the cell styles.
So you probably wouldn't want to do this for a document that has hundreds of these tables, but if it's a smaller table, you can use these individual cell styles to really do any number of things and it doesn't take that long really. There are plenty of other times when you're going to need to create a cell style to fix the formatting applied by your table style. If you have subhead rows running through your table, you'd have to create a separate cell style for those, you can't include them as part of the table style. But, even if a table style doesn't format every cell of your table exactly just right, you can see its pretty easy to use cell styles to finish the job off and still save tons of time.
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