Join Diane Burns for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the "golden rules", part of InDesign Tables in Depth.
- If you're new to InDesign tables, there are a few basic things you need to know before you get started. I like to call these the golden rules of tables. Let's take a closer look at this table. I'm gonna switch from Preview to Normal mode by pressing the letter w. The first golden rule of tables is that every table lives inside a text frame. Even if the text frame fits up tightly against the table and may not be visible, it's still there. The text frame may be narrower than the table, and it may be larger than the table, but the table is always inside a text frame.
It behaves a lot like an inline object. I'm gonna switch to the type tool by pressing the letter t and click to the right of this table. You see this dark black cursor blinking there and if I press the left arrow key, I'm now on the left side of the table, and I'll press the return key and you can see that the table moves down just like an inline object will. If I have text above the table and I have some on the pasteboard here, I'm gonna select it with command or control+a, and then I'll copy it into the clipboard with command or control+c, and paste it above the table.
The table moves down along with the text. In that sense, it's an inline object within a text frame, but a table never stands by itself. It's always inside a text frame. The second golden rule is that in order to format or edit a table, you must use the type tool. If you click on a table with the selection tool, well, you get the text frame that it's in. If you try the direct selection tool, you can't select anything either. So you must always use the type tool.
Once you click on the type tool, you can then come into the table and you can select Columns, or Rows, or Cells within the table and then you can format the table. You can change the fills and the strokes and so forth. That's really important and you must always use the type tool. Now, the third golden rule is really more something to keep in mind. Sometimes for even more experienced InDesign users. That is, you need to be clear on the difference between table level formatting and cell level formatting.
I'm gonna go back into Preview mode by pressing the letter w, and let me explain. Table level formatting applies to the entire table, and this includes things like putting a border around the entire table. Or, we can format these alternating fill patterns that you see on each row of this table. That's table level formatting. It affects the entire table. We also have cell level formatting. Cell level formatting lets us format the type within a table including its vertical position, or whether or not there are insets.
Cell formatting lets us set strokes and a host of other options that we use to make our tables look good. You'll even see this difference on the Table menu. If we come to the Table menu, you'll see there are table options and there are cell options. This decision is helpful to keep in mind when you're formatting tables and it becomes really important when you start working with table styles and cell styles. It even comes into play when we export to ePub or HTML. Things we'll be covering in other videos.
But once you follow these three golden rules, you'll be able to utilize InDesign's incredibly useful table features.
- Navigating and selecting tables
- Formatting text in tables
- Working with fills
- Inserting and deleting rows and columns
- Rotating text
- Dealing with overset text
- Applying cell and table styles
- Updating table data
- Working with graphic cells
- Creating infographics with tables
- Creating pull quotes and design objects using tables
- Exporting tables to EPUB