Join Diane Burns for an in-depth discussion in this video Using anchored shapes to change cell corners, part of InDesign: Tables.
- Do you sometimes feel like you've run out of design ideas for creating tables that are interesting, and maybe a little out of the ordinary? Well here's a little trick you can use to create tables that are different, and no one will believe were done in InDesgin. Here's a table that if we look closely, the cells don't have rectangular corners. At each intersecting point of row and column strokes, a small circle has been added that changes the corner appearance. Let's take a closer look and see how this was done. I'm going to switch out of preview mode, by pressing the letter W, and if I click on each of these circles, you can see that it's an anchored object.
It's anchored to the text in the cell to the right of it. I can see exactly where it's anchored by turning on my text threads. I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut, cmd + opt + y, or crtl + alt + y, and this shows me where each circle is anchored. Now, let's look at the settings for each of these circles. I'm going to go to the Object Menu to Anchored Object Options, and let me translate this dialogue. The anchored object is the circle, and the reference point for the circle is the center of the circle.
The anchored position, where that circle is anchored to, is on the left side of the anchor marker, so it's not to the left side of a frame or cell, but it's to the left side of where the anchor marker is. Now, what makes this anchor marker always in the same position is some of the settings in the table itself. First of all, if we look at the insets, the insets for all of these cells are the same. The top inset is the same for them all, and so is the left inset. Now, the top inset and the left inset happen to be the same here, they don't have to be.
What's important is that they are the same measure in all the cells. Also, all of the cells have to be the same height. That's what makes this work. Now, just to make this a little but easier, I've actually created an object style for each of these circles, called little circles. And it captures the color and the fill, but more importantly, it captures the anchor position. I'm going to turn of my text threads, again, cmd + opt + y, or crtl + alt + y, and let's set up a table that have the circles in it yet.
I'm going to turn to the next page. To the left of the table,I already have a circle drawn. I'm going to click on that circle, and I'l anchor it to the appropriate point in the text. Because I already have an object style created, I can just apply that, and that's going to put this circle in the same location. Now, this is great, and for a small table like this, I could simply copy the circle, and then paste it into the beginning of each cell. The anchor position will be remembered and it will appear in the right position, but I actually have another trick for you.
What about if you have a really big table? How could you put some kind of circle or other shape at the intersection of all your row and column strokes? Well, let me show your a little grep trick that'll make that happen automatically. First, I'm going to take my circle, which is already in position, and I'm going to cut it into the clipboard, cmd or ctrl x. Next, I'm going to select all of the cells to which I want to anchor this little circle. Now, let's go to our Find Command, cmd or ctrl f.
And we need a grep search here. We want to look for the beginning, go to location, the beginning of every paragraph. InDesign sees the beginning of each cell as the beginning of a paragraph. And we want to find any character that's there. That's pretty easy. Right? Now, here's the fun part. I want to change that to the following. I want to change it to the Clipboard Contents. What's in the ClipBoard? The little circle, along with it's anchored position.
And then, I want InDesign to put back whatever character it found at the beginning of each cell. This is pretty simple. I'm no grep expert by any means, but even I can set this up. So now, the other thing that's really important is, we need to confine our search to the selection, I want this to occur just in the cells I have selected in the table. And now, I'm going to live dangerously and let's change all.
Perfect, 16 replacements made, and with one click, all of these circles are in position. Let's go back into preview mode. Looks pretty good. Hopefully this technique will give you some inspiration. Try this along with some other shapes, maybe rectangles, diamonds, or other ornaments, and make your tables look, not only out of the ordinary, but very extraordinary.
- 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