Los Angeles InDesign User Group

Awesome InDesign Tables (and Layouts with Tables That Don't Look Like It)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Ventana, Club Room, 6565 Crescent Park West, Playa Vista, California 90094

See the Photos

Original Event Page



By Alvin Takamori


On a rainy evening in January, the Los Angeles InDesign User Group gathered in a living-room like setting at The Ventana Club Room in Playa Vista.


To begin, we heard a brief presentation from Dave Roberts. No, not the Dodgers Manager. This was the Community Engagement Program Manager for Extensis. Among other things, they make the font management software, Suitcase.


The main presenter for the evening was Jason Hoppe, an Adobe Authorized instructor, an Adobe Max master, and founding instructor of Creative Live. Obviously, he is qualified to teach numerous topics regarding Adobe software. For the LAIDUG, his subject was InDesign Tables.


Jason broke the ice by entertaining us with the first video he ever made, which was about  pumpkin carving and included his hairless cats. After this brief insight into his personal life, Jason dived into tables. He described them very succinctly. They are just a set of text boxes. Containers into which things can be placed.


One of the challenges for anyone unfamiliar with tables is figuring out how to resize it. Trying to grab the edges with an arrow tool, the way you would grab and resize a rectangle, doesn’t work. You have to hold the Command key (on a Mac), then you can pull the edges to resize the table.


Resizing a single row or column is another challenge. Trying to grab the edge of a row or column with the arrow tool is futile. You need the text tool, which can be accessed by double clicking the arrow tool. The text tool cursor allows you to pull on the edges of rows and columns and resize them.


To navigate from one cell of a table to the next, you can use arrow keys. To select multiple cells, hold the Shift key and select cells with the text tool. Be sure to select the entire cell, not just the content.


Jason explained how to create a table using data from an Excel sheet. Use Place and check the box for Show Import Options. Choose the Excel file you want data from, then select Unformatted Tabbed Text from the pop-up window. Place the text then, select it and go to the Table menu and choose Convert Text to Table. In the pop-up window, choose Tab for Column Separator and Paragraph for Row Separator. Click Okay and you should have a table.


To customize a table, select it and go to the Table menu and choose Table Options. There you can change the thickness and color of Row Strokes or Column Strokes. Cells can be filled with a color in rows or columns. The fills can also be applied in alternating patterns. Headers and Footers can be added to the table.


Rows and Columns can be dragged and dropped to change their position within a table. If you hold the Option key while dragging a row or column, a duplicate is made.


Like any text, Paragraph and Character Styles can be applied to text inside a table. The Eyedropper tool can be used to copy a Style from one table to another.


Jason then showed us a quick way to add cells of the same size to a Table. Use the text cursor and begin pulling the bottom edge of the Table down. After you start pulling, but before you release, click the Option key. As you extend the Table, rows of the same size will be duplicated as many times as needed to fill the table.


Jason also demonstrated that graphics can be placed inside Tables. Right click or go to the Table menu and select Convert a Cell to Graphic Cell. Now an image can be placed inside the cell. He also put another text box inside the table. Anything that can be selected and copied can be placed inside a table. If the graphic doesn’t fit inside a cell, it can be adjusted by going to the Object menu and scrolling down to Fitting.


Under the Table menu, there are options to Merge Cells, Unmerge Cells, Split Cell Horizontally, or Vertically.


Under the Window menu, you can pull up a table pop-up window. In the window there are options to set Cell Styles. There you can set positioning of text and graphics within a cell. You can also set the Stroke or Fill of a cell. Strokes and Fills for the entire table can be set under Table Styles.


Tables don’t have rounded corners, but Jason demonstrated how he created the look of a table with rounded corners by nesting a table inside a text box.


To have a database linked to a table, before you make the table, go to InDesign Preferences. Next, go to File Handling. Check the box for Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files. Now, when text and spreadsheet files are placed, the link to the original database will be preserved. So, if changes are made to the original database your table will reflect or at least notify you of changes.


As you can see, Jason quickly ran through a series of things that can be done with tables. After that, he took a few questions. Then we conducted the usual raffle with a special prize: an actual folding table.



Special Table Prize


Lifetime 24"x48" Commercial Folding Table—Emily Mohamed



Farthest Attendee Prize Winner


Mighty Deals—Jason Roberts



Raffle Prize Winners


GoProof from Oppolis Software. 3 month subscription for 2 users—Enrique Ortega

IDMarkz from Markzware. 12 month subscription—Eduardo Pablin

Suitcase Fusion 8 from Extensis. 12 month subscription—Diane Schlesinger

Font Agent Pro from Insider Software—Jason Roberts

DTP Tools Cloud for InDesign. 6 month subscription—Angie Cibis

Adobe Stock. 15 image licenses—Carla Cuadros

InDesign Magazine. 6 month subscription—Diane Schlesinger

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