Join Diane Burns for an in-depth discussion in this video Where do tables come from?, part of InDesign Tables In Depth (2012).
You can't start enjoying InDesign's table features until you have a table. Where do tables come from? Well, there are three ways you can get a table into your layout. The first way is to create a table from scratch right in InDesign. First, you have to draw a text frame, because all tables live inside of a text frame. Then from the Table menu, we can use the Insert Table command, we can indicate the number of rows and columns we want as well as header and footer rows, and we can also apply a style. When I click OK I get a very simple table with no formatting.
Now, I can just type right into InDesign and build my table from scratch this way, I'm going to turn to the next page by pressing Shift and Page Down, and let's zoom in a little bit here. Another way that you can get tables into your layout is to convert tab to text into a table. Here we have some text that has some tabs in it, you can see that little chevrons here, and I'm going to simply select this tabs to text up to but not including the last paragraph return and then I'll go to the Table menu again and now we have a Convert Text to Table command.
I can indicate what I want to separate the columns. In this case, it will be a tab, but I could also choose a comma if I had some comma delimited information and each row will be separated by a paragraph. Here again, I can apply a table style if I have one in my document, I'm going to click OK and here we have a table. Once again, it's unformatted it just has one-point strokes. The reason I didn't select that last return character, is that if you do InDesign gives you another empty row here.
If you have tab text in your document, you might think about converting it to a table, you have a lot more formatting options and in some ways an InDesign table is easier to work with and trying to set tab stops. I'm going to turn to the third page of this document Shift+Page Down and possibly the most common way that you can put a table into your layout is to import an Excel worksheet or Microsoft Word table document. To do that, I use the File > Place command and here I have an Excel worksheet and it's usually a good idea to show import options, when you import a spreadsheet especially the first time, you can check on Import Options here or you can just hold down the Shift key and click Open.
Now we have the Excel Import Options dialog, and then let just choose things like the Range that we want to import from the worksheet, we don't have to import the whole thing, but more importantly it lets us control the formatting of the table when we import it. It's now set to come in as an unformatted table, but we could also bring in the Excel formatting if we wanted to by selecting Formatted Table. I'm going to leave it is as an Unformatted Table and click OK. Now I have the familiar place, cursor and when I click once again we have a table. Once you have a table in your layout, you're ready to get started using all of InDesign's great table features.
- Navigating and selecting tables
- Positioning tables
- Inserting and deleting rows and columns
- Adding header and footer rows, fills, strokes, and borders
- Dealing with overset text
- Applying cell and table styles
- Using tables to streamline graphic design work
- Creating infographics with tables
- Creating pull quotes and design objects using tables
- Exporting tables to EPUB and HTML