Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Create a table, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] One of the most difficult design challenges is representing a lot of data clearly. It's easy to throw a bunch of numbers and dates on page but to make them readable you typically need to format it all as a table. Now InDesign offers a number of features that make table making well not fun, but at least pretty tolerable and sometimes even interesting. My friend, Diane Burns, has done a whole title on making cool looking tables here in the online training library, called InDesign Tables.
You should definitely check that out, but in the mean time I'm going to show you the essentials. Just what you need to do to get up and running with tables quickly. Now the first thing you need to know about tables in InDesign is that they are always anchored inside of a text frame. Sometimes in the middle of a story or sometimes as the only thing in a text frame, but there has to be a text frame. So I'm going to grab my type tool and draw one out on my page. Now that I have a frame, I can insert my table.
So to do that I'll go to my table menu and choose insert table. The insert table dialog box lets me choose the number of rows and columns and also specifies header and footer rows. I'll talk about those later on in this chapter, but for now I'll just click Ok, and you can see that InDesign has added my table inside my text frame. Now it's a very basic table but it does let me type data into it. So I can just type some words and then press the tab key to jump from one field to the next and then type some more words.
Actually I should point out that you don't technically need to make a text frame first, I could have just chosen insert table from the table menu without making this text frame, and in that case InDesign would make a text frame for me and put the table into it, either way works. In general you're probably not going to be creating your own tables from scratch very often, it's just too cumbersome. The table data will probably come from somewhere else like Word or Excel or maybe a database. So let's go ahead and get rid of this table and start with a new one.
You can delete a table just like you would delete text or an anchored object. In fact, as I said, a table is anchored in the text, so if I click down here in the empty part of this text frame, you'll see that the text cursor is placed immediately after the table. Over here on the right, in fact, just to prove that it's anchored in that frame, I'll just start typing some gibberish, and you see it shows up on the following line. So to delete that text and the table I'll simply drag over it and then press the Delete key on my keyboard.
Okay, now let's bring in some data. I'm going to go to the file menu and choose place. Here in my exercise files folder I'm going to grab this file, table data, this is an Excel document. Now before I click open, I'm going to turn on the show import options checkbox. Now when I click open, I get this dialog box. This gives me options for what I want to import and also how I want to import it. For example here in the formatting table pop-up menu I can say do I want to import it as a formatted table, unformatted or in this case I'm going to import it as unformatted tab text.
Usually you'd probably choose formatted or unformatted table, but I want to import it as unformatted tab text so I can show you how to turn that text into a table. I'll click Ok and the data flows into the text frame. Now this is definitely not pretty, so let's turn it into a table. I'm going to select all the text by pressing Command A on the Mac or Control A on Windows. Then I'll go up to my table menu and I'll choose convert text to table. InDesign is going to ask me what's in between each row and column.
And in this case the columns are broken down by tabs and the rows by paragraphs. So I'm just going to leave this set to the default settings and click Ok. As you can see, we now have a table really quickly. But look down here in the lower right corner. I see a red overset mark. That means this table is too big to fit inside this frame. So I'll go grab my selection tool, then click on the outport, that's that overset mark, and then I'm going to come over here to the right-hand page and draw out a new text frame.
As you can see, tables can thread from one frame to another. And if you have a really long table it could go on for pages. The one thing InDesign cannot do however, is break a cell or a row in half. For example if you had a whole paragraph of text inside of a cell, InDesign cannot put half of it on one page and the rest of it on the next page. It always keeps your whole cell, the whole row, on one page. The other thing I'm noticing here and it's kind of interesting is that this table on the right-hand page is wider than the text frame itself.
This is one of the few instances in InDesign where things can actually hang outside of a text frame. I'll be talking about how to change the size of a table by adjusting it's rows and columns later on in this chapter. But for right now I just want to point out that each one of these table cells is kind of like it's own text frame. For example if I want to edit one of these, I simply double click to change to the type tool, and you can see the cursor flashing inside of there. Now, I can just start typing. Now, I know this table isn't exactly pretty, but at least we now have a table to work with.
In the next few movies I'm going to explain how to adjust the rows and columns and then start formatting these cells.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents