Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics


Lesson Info

Putting It All Together: Tables

We're gonna jump into something entirely different. Now we're gonna do tables. And I know people think, "Oh, that's great." "I love to do annual reports, how much I love it." I'm gonna talk a little bit about some of the tables, I could probably talk for three hours on tables, I love tables. I'm gonna show you some features of the tables. I assume if you use Excel, or something like that, some of that's gonna be pretty self-explanatory. I'm gonna show you some fun things to do with tables, as well. And other places I use tables that you wouldn't think about it. Yes, I use them in annual reports, and a lot of the tabular information, but I use 'em in so many places. But I also love that a lot of the new things in InDesign have been table-based. So there's been a lot of new features with tables. When we work with tables, they have to be in a text frame, and we almost always use the type tool to create and work with tables. So I'm gonna use my type tool, and I'm gonna create a text frame.

Right, so I'm just gonna come in here, and draw a text frame. And this is how we've always had to do it before. We've had to put a text frame on the page first. Just turning on my Frame Edges. We had to put one in there, and then put a table in there somehow. And there's a couple different ways to get a table in there. We can create a table from scratch and start filling it in. We can take text and create a table from text, tab text, usually. I can also bring in a table and put that inside here, as well. So I'm gonna go ahead and put the table in here. And I can tell it, under the Table menu, Insert Table. And I can tell it how many rows and many columns. We'll just say OK. Right, so I've got a number of rows and columns. The other thing I can do now, and this is a very new tool, I think it was just, not in August, but in January of 2015, one of the updates, was that there is a new tool called Create Table. So if you don't have your type tool already selected, I can create the table, how many rows and columns, now I have a special table creation frame, so I don't have to create a text frame first, and then put that in. I can just create that, and it automatically has the four by four square, and it filled it to the size of my frame. When we're looking at text frames, I'm sorry, tables, we can see that it's in a text frame, I can bring the size of this text frame, if I'm working with the width, I can make it narrow. Tables are like, "I do what I want." "I'm just gonna hang outside the frame here." So, keep that in mind. You might have a skinny frame, but you bring in a table from somewhere else, and suddenly it flies off the end of your page, 'cause they used 117 columns in Excel or whatever, and you realize that's not gonna fit. Well there's a easy way around that. I can get that frame to fit right back up there with that frame-fitting option we used earlier. Object, Fitting, learn this keyboard shortcut. Fit Frame to Content. Boom. It automatically, at least keeps it all contained. So at least then, I know that the frame is out to the end of those 117 columns, then the next thing I can do is come here to the width, and make it smaller, and just kind of bring everything together. So I can size that down, or try and find the end of the column, which sometimes takes awhile. I could at least see, wow, it's 27 inches long, that's a lot of scrolling, I've gotta keep... So I've gotta move the object out of the way. So just know that sometimes frames do weird things. Depending on the height, though, the height does at least play nicely. When I drag this up, you'll notice it got rid of a whole row. It's not gonna cut the middle of a row off, but it is gonna get rid of an entire row. But you notice, I have that overset text. When I click on that, and drag this out, there's the rest of my table. So we can have tables jump between text frames. So it works just like regular text. I might have the first half of a table on one page, and the second half on another page, so we can do that. And the great thing is, I can tell it the header needs to be on all those pages as well, without me having to manually insert that header information. I don't know if you've ever had a table that's so long on another page, you have to keep going back to be like, oh, five columns over is this amount, right? So we want the header on every page. I sometimes, if I've got just a really long table, I'll split it into two text frames, just so that I have a header, you know, occasionally in the middle of the page, so people don't have to scroll up and down, especially if I'm making a PDF, and I know they're gonna zoom in to read it, I don't want them to have to keep scrolling, so I'll split my table into three things. It might look like one long continuous thing, but it just throws that header in there. So we'll show you how to do that in just a second as well. So let's go back, I'm gonna delete this object. And just create it like that. Create the larger text frame. And I'm gonna use the type tool for most things. I'm gonna grab the bottom and pull it up. Now you notice, it's only pulling the bottom cell up. I'm gonna hold down the Shift key, and it automatically moves everything up. So the nice thing is, I can move that, make that a little skinnier, maybe make the columns a little skinnier, right? So we can just work with the size of the frame. If I put my type tool, or my text tool cursor inside here, and I hit Tab, I can jump between all the cells. I'm gonna tab between each of those. so now I've got this table, what do I do with it? Well, I'm just gonna put some numbers in here. I'm hitting Tab between each. And then, when I hit Tab, it goes to the next line, let's just do A, B, C, and D. Or, I could've started with that text and created a table from that. So I'm gonna do that, I'm just gonna move this guy, kinda, off to the side. Gonna go back to that type frame, and I said you could also take text, and convert it to a table. So I'm gonna do 1, and I'm just hitting Tab in between each. Tab, Tab, Tab. And then I'm gonna hit Return, 'cause I want a whole new row. Alright, so I'll Tab that. And I can select all that information, go up under the Table menu, and say Convert Text to Table. And it's gonna ask me what is my Column Separator? Well, I hit Tabs between each. And a Paragraph separator, or Return, that's what I hit to give me a new row. So I'll say OK. So now I have that same information. I can hold down the Shift key. Again, I can grab this if I wanna bring up any of the interior lines, it brings up everything below it, or to the right of it, depending which I'm moving. But sometimes I just want one line to move. So I'm gonna hold down the Shift key, so it kinda works exactly opposite as the outside lines. Does that make sense? I can move individual lines this way, and this way, oops. Let's grab that item, move that up. So I can work with that, and just get that funky table there. I can also select individual cells, they all have to be continuous, I cannot select number one here, and d at the same time, they have to be connected together. I'm gonna grab both of those, and go up to the Table menu. And I'm gonna tell it to Merge the cells. So now I have one big cell. I'm gonna merge these as well. If they have text in 'em already, sometimes, things look a little strange. Like obviously, everything's just being crammed up against each other over here. Because I already had text in there. But again, I start to look, and see, okay, I could do something with this. Maybe this just isn't just a text, you know, just a, like a financial sheet, right, something like that. I can start to see that that's a pattern that I might want to actually be able to create and just have my text sitting in different areas. And maybe I don't even want boxes around it. Maybe I wanna get rid of those, and I can do that. I can turn off the strokes that are on those, on the table, and change that. So I'm just gonna show you a couple other things with tables like the headers, I said I wanted to have headers on there, right? So I'm going to get rid of this guy, I'll just pull him off to the side. Bring this guy back, he's a little more tabular in here. And I wanna go ahead and insert a column. And actually, the first thing I wanna do is, I wanna move this column out of the way. And this is something that's new, being able to reorder columns and rows. I can grab this row, and it changes, hopefully you can see it changes to this little, kind of squarish icon, there. I'm gonna grab that row and just drag it down. And now I've just flip-flopped the two rows that were there. So I do that, but I realize, I need a header. I need it to say something. So I'm gonna insert a row. I'm gonna select, off to the left side, it selects the entire thing. And again, I'm assuming everybody... If you use tables, you've probably already them somewhere else. I'm gonna go ahead and Insert a Row. And just tell it one row Above that row. We'll say OK. And we'll just call this column A, column B. I don't know what it is we're putting in here, but we're calling it column A, B, C, and D. And so we'll do that. But I need this to repeat. So when I add rows, let's add a bunch of rows here. So I can actually come in here, and say Insert Rows. And let's add four rows Below that one. We'll say OK. And again, we see that it's cut off. And I'm actually gonna cut it off on purpose, and I'm gonna pick it up and finish it on another page, or just somewhere else on this page. But I wanna have a header row, but it didn't repeat. Well, it doesn't know that that's a header row yet, and I need to tell it that. So I'm gonna select that row, go up to the Table menu, and say Convert Rows, and convert that to a Header. So when I do that, it now shows every place I have that table continuing, I've got that row. So now I can do stuff to that, I can use paragraph styles, I can just style it. You notice when I selected the first one, it selected this one as well. If I try and do something to this, you'll notice it's got a little lock on it, says you can't, because it's connected to that, at the header row. Same thing for footer rows. I could decide that this is a footer row. I'm gonna take maybe all of those, and Merge that cell, and then tell it that's a footer row, Convert that to a footer row. Woops. And it won't let me, 'cause it's not actually the last one, I need to do it in the last one of the document, here. Let's pull this down. Maybe I have way too many, do I have way too many? I must. Let's see how many rows we ended up with here. Alright, that's good. We'll take this one. And I wanna go ahead and Merge that. And I also wanna Convert that to a Footer Row. And now it's gonna repeat everywhere throughout there. Does that make sense? Got a header and a footer. And we need it to say something specific there. And I'm gonna go ahead and select all these cells, excuse me, and then I can come into the Table menu, and say Cell Options, and here's where I tell it how the text sits in the frame. So I can have an Inset so it's not butted up right against the lines. Oftentimes, I'll butt it up right against the line, turn Preview on so we can see it, and then remove the lines. Sometimes I just want text lined up neatly, but I don't want to actually have it looking like it's sitting in a table. Let's actually make that Inset a little bit. I can also come over here to Strokes and Fills. I can change the fill, let's start with something easy, like the fill, let's put a Light Tan fill in there. Now you notice, it doesn't look tan, it's blue, because I've selected it, so it automatically looks completely opposite, it's gonna be the opposite color. So unfortunately, that's kind of a pain when you're trying to actually style your table. So I'm gonna use something that's up here under the Window menu. I'm gonna say Arrange, and I'm gonna say New Window. So I'm gonna do Window for this Untitled-4, and it puts one, the exact same, side-by-side, so I can actually see what's happening over here. So let's go back into this document. You notice it says 4:1, 4:2. Just kinda keeping a separate version of it. I'll come over here and select this, and we can continue to work with the Cell Options. But we can see what's happening on the other side, which is nice. So I come over here so we can actually see the difference. Alright, so we changed the fill, we can change the tint, whatever. I want to look at the Strokes a little bit, I maybe don't want any strokes, so this is kind of confusing, you've got all these blue lines. If I double-click on those, all the outside ones go away, if I double-click on this one, all of the inside ones go away. And what it's telling me is, because I have multiple cells selected, it's saying these are the outside lines of that particular cell. So the outside line, maybe I don't want there to be a stroke at all. So I select them all, and say the Weight is zero. Now I can see that there is no stroke on that particular row I had selected. And maybe I want the center one, and maybe I want that to be really thick. As I'm doing it, you can see how thick that line is growing. I should probably have turned off my edges here, so those blue lines weren't interfering, so we could see a little better. That's okay, we can look and see what that looks like. We can also tell it how high a certain row is. How high it is, and how wide it is. And I'm gonna show you in a minute why that might be important. So I'll say OK, so again, I'm just being able to see both of these at the same time. Turn that on so I can actually see. It's pretty ugly, I realize, but we just wanted to come up with a different look to it. But anyway, I have this separate one open. When I'm done with that, I can close that. I don't need to look at that anymore. So those are a couple things that we can do with actually stylizing the tables. Again, it's ugly, but... And, for me, like I said, stepping it between frames is super important, because I like to have that header row repeated throughout my document. Alright, let's actually bring in a table from somewhere else. And then I'm gonna show you the promised fun things. You're like, "Yeah, that was fun, Erica." "I'm really excited about that so far." Let's actually bring in a table. Jump out to my tables here. And I've got this file here, and it's just a table file, it's just a text file. But when I place it, again, I'm placing it like I did other text. And this happens a lot if you place a Word file, and there happens to be a table inside the middle of the text, it will suddenly see it as, sort of, one object in the middle of your text. When I bring this in, it's not formatted in any way, it's just, here's this table that I started with. And I have a... You notice if I select it, it sees it as one character. So if I hit that, it looks like... If I come down here, let's see if I can actually get my cursor to go past it. It will actually... There we go. It actually is sitting there. It's got some extra text, as well, but it sees it sort of as one character. If I delete that, everything goes away. My entire table. Because it's part of a longer flow of text. But it's a table that I can work with. So everything I just did, I can work with, I can change the lines, change the the amount of space that's on here. And again, I could do a thing on tables. I've done a class on tables, it was a three-hour class, right. So I'm not gonna go into all the table stuff. Play with it, though, and see that anytime you want anything lined up, a table might be the solution. So let's look at some other sample tables. Things that I've actually used a table for. We've got some font issues, I'm not gonna worry about that. So this up here, that's a table. Alright, so I can look at that. These are actually in a table. If I look up at this item here, and we turn on our Frame Edges, I can actually see that that's a table. That's what that's telling me there, that... If I want geometric shapes, like two images that are together, and I want to make sure that they're always connected beautifully... Obviously my picture isn't filling the frame, but, I always want these joins to be perfect, you know. If I'm trying to line up two image frames and I get 'em perfect, and then I decide I need a thicker stroke, I'm gonna keep moving those images apart. So one thing I use tables for all the time is images. And they just made a change to images in tables. Now you can tell it this is an image cell. So now you can just drop an image in there really easily, it used to be a lot more difficult. This is a table. That's a table, just a grid, maybe you just need a grid. I used to do grids all the time for, like, an engineering firm. And they might come back and say, "Okay, great, that's an eighth of an inch grid in cyan." "Now we want it not in cyan, we want it in 10% black, "and they need to be a quarter of an inch "instead of an eighth of an inch." And if you're drawing a box with individual lines across it, this would take forever. So, for me, this is a table, I'm just gonna go use my type tool. Go up to the upper left, and select everything, so all my cells are selected. Go up under the Table menu, and I'm gonna choose Cell Options, Strokes and Fills, and here's where I've told it... I'm sorry, Rows and Columns, I've told it, it's at least a quarter inch high, maximum quarter inch high, and a quarter inch wide. Well let's change that to an eighth of an inch. Turn this to an eighth of an inch, eighth of an inch, and an eighth of an inch here. Woops, that is not an eighth of an inch. Let's do . and .125. And so now I made those, they're smaller, now I need more rows, of course. So I can always come in here to the Table setup. So Table Options, Table Setup. I can come in here and just... Maybe I wanna, you know, make, let's do 80. 80's gonna make it really wide, and that's alright. 80 rows, and that's fine, 'cause it'll cut off whenever it needs to. And, how many columns? Let's make that also 80. So we can keep working until it's the right size. Let's actually... There we go. So obviously I might want to shorten this up. The great thing is it will cut it off because it's a text frame. I'm gonna have to change the number of columns, I made a too many. But I would just change it 'til it fits back on the page. But, see how easy it was to change that, to change the size of that? And also, back in the Cell Options, under Strokes and Fills, my strokes are set to be cyan. Well let's change that to black and 10%. So there, now I've got my new grids, super easy, it's already there. And because it's a table, I didn't really have to do much with it at all. This is also a table. Here's a place where I use tables all the time. When it's a form that we want to make sure that it's always the same. Like, you know, just get a form to fill out. Name, address, city, things like that. I start with that, with just text, and convert that. So how I did that was create a text frame. And I'm just gonna put Name, and hit Return, and we hit Return again, 'cause I need that space for writing the name in. Then I might do Address. And double Return. City, and I'm hit Tab. State, Tab, and Zip. Right, so we'll do that, and we'll hit Return, and Return again. I want that extra item that's there. I'm gonna select all that text, go up under Table, convert that text to a table, and there's my frame to start with. Then I do things like select this row, and Merge that cell, and I would do the same thing for each. There are also cell styles and table styles if you wanna get into those. They work fairly decently. They have a few glitches that are weird, but if I wanted to change this row, if I'm gonna do the colors, especially, like when I do this header, I have to tell it it's white text but a black fill. And then sometimes I want to make sure that my divider lines even show up white in between. So then I gotta select that stroke and tell it it's white as well. Cell styles save me a lot on that. It's just when you try and do cell and table styles together that they start butting heads again. It's like fighting for control. So, I would do this, and then the nice thing is, I can say, okay, I would like this one to be longer. I'll make each one of the same. You know, I'm just giving it more room to write the information that's in there. But you can see how that starts out, and I start going, okay, great, now I've got my form. Now that form, even if I didn't have lines, and I just wanted to have a form to fill out, I would do the same thing in a table. Because if the client comes back and says, "There's not enough height for everybody to write." I don't have to go and change all those lines, I just take my table and either drag it down, Shift drag it down, or I go into the column's height and just change the height. Now, everything changes, I don't have to change letting, and move lines, or anything like that. Here's a place I use tables a lot. So I've got just this kind of catalog of information. I just want alternating colors on my paragraphs. So I'm gonna come in here, and... Oops, I thought I had it without it being a table. I'll just make it not a table. I convert that table right back to text. You can see how it was when I first wrote it. So someone gives you this, this is just a... A paragraph of information. I do have paragraph Returns between each one, and I may need to take those out, depending, again, where that comes, you know, if it comes in from somebody else. But I can grab all of this text, convert that to a table, and then... Oh, that looks beautiful, I love it. No idea why I did that. So I do that, and of course, like I said, I have these extra rows because that was that extra Return that was in there. So I might need to merge certain ones together. I guess it's what happened. Each one ended up being its own line, there. But, if it comes in perfectly, if not, I can make changes, I can say, actually, that's not its own line, I just need to check my paragraph Returns. But I can come in here under Table, and go under Table Options. Actually, I need to select it with the type tool. And then go to Table Options, and I can choose Alternating Fills. And that's what I had setup in here. So I can say alternate Every Other Row. And let's just make one is gonna be black, and one will be, let's make it this brown. And we'll make it 60% of that. So we'll say OK. And now I've got my alternating rows that are here. Now obviously, like I said, I might not want each one to be its own. I could have merged those together first, I can actually do that now. Grab those items, and just Merge those cells together, and now they become one, like that. I would take off the strokes probably, so I just get that nice alternating color. I do that a lot for catalogs where they have like a... Like, classes Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at one o'clock. So I have different columns. So I just set it up with Tabs. I type in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Tab, 1:00 p.m., Tab, and then the information. And by making a table, each one is its own column, but it doesn't look like it, 'cause it has the same colors across it. So it just looks like these nice little squares of color. But when I put a new one in, put a whole new paragraph in, it automatically changes the alternating pattern, so I don't have to worry about going back and changing colors of anything, it automatically does that for me. So, again, that's just more table stuff. So, see there's the few fun ones. See there's workshop, this is how I did this one. So I'll just do this one really quick. So basically, all I did, let's look at the invisibles. Let's turn those on so we can actually see what that's comprised of. So I can see Tab, Tab, Tab, Return. Tab, Tab, Tab, right? So we start with that. I select this text, convert that text to a table. Say OK. And I want to go ahead and make those a little bit bigger. So I'm gonna go back under Table, under Cell Options, Rows and Columns. Let's make that... Let's make them each an inch. So we'll make it an inch high, maximum of an inch, and an inch wide. And then we need to go to Text, and you notice that sitting at the top. All I want it to go ahead and align to the center, so it's up and down of the center. I've also got the text already centered, but I can double check in my paragraph panel, and see that my text is centered as well. So it's centered left to right. Centered top to bottom. And, then I can come in here, I'm just gonna zoom in a little, and turn off my invisibles as well. I don't wanna look at that. So, so far, so good. I could turn off the strokes if I want. And then, to do the fills, I could either select an individual cell, or, the fun thing with cells, is we can just come over here to the Swatches panel, we can just drag those on. Can just drag each of those, and we get some random color inside each of those. We have that ready to go. So we just have a real quick, kind of a logo, a nice little graphic thing. And then if we decide it's not big enough, we make our text bigger, we make our columns and rows bigger, as well. And again, I don't have to worry about lining up all these individual squares. They all just line up nicely, and they're mitered nicely together as well. That make sense? Alright, so that's just some ideas that I use all the time for tables. If anything has to be lined up... If I have just even four images that I want lined up together, and always sitting very nicely together, even if they're four right in a stacked row, I'll make a four-row, one column table, and plop all those images in there. And plopping an image in is easy. Plopping is the correct term. I'm gonna come in here, and, I'll just make a real quick table. Let's insert a table, it's two by two. And I'll just drag this bigger here. And I can select this cell, and I can convert that cell to a graphic cell. So now it automatically puts an image in there. I bring in an image. Just jump out and grab a photo really quick. And we'll just grab this guy and drop it in. Now that photo's in there, it's a little more difficult to move around, once it's in there, sometimes. But we can do it. Move this in there. Now we've got that image already in there, and it sits right inside that cell. And again, it's already lined up for me, if I have another picture next to it, and I decide I need it bigger, I can move everything all together as well. Using auto fit will also automate that process. Does that make sense? Some fun things to think about. I know they're tables, but, anytime I feel like I need things lined up, and I think the client or I am gonna change things later on, I wanna make it easier for me to just, kinda, make super-easy adjustments. I don't wanna have to be worrying about moving 18 different photos on every page. Change the table. If you work with table styles, change the style, boom. All your images update, everything's lined up for you. So, think about tables, anything that need to be in kind of a nice, neat, orderly fashion, I use tables for.

Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® enables you to create rich documents and layouts that combine graphic elements, images, and text. Advance your design skills with Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics with Erica Gamet.

In this class, Erica will help you tackle complex design projects and share best practice techniques in Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud®

You’ll learn how to:
  • Manage multi-page documents and use master pages
  • Automate your workflow and save time
  • Select character and paragraph styles
You’ll learn about advanced exporting options and she’ll offer tips on taking advantage of the extensive selection of assets in the Creative Cloud® Libraries.

If you’ve mastered the basics are are ready to advance your design skills, don’t miss Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® Intermediate: Beyond the Basics with Erica Gamet.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Recommended prerequisite: Adobe® InDesign® Creative Cloud® for Beginners

Software Used: Adobe InDesign CC 2015.1



  • As an absolute beginner to InDesign, I purchased both of Erica's classes and man was she helpful. I highly recommend this course to anyone unfamiliar with the software to give them some great footing. Thank you Erica and thank you Creative Live!
  • I am using Erica's videos to supplement my "Classroom in a book series" on Indesign. The beauty of this is that I can go through the sections of the book and when I get to something, like Master Pages, that I can't quite follow I jump to the video. I gain the understanding I need by listening and watching Erica and then go back to the book and finish the project with a lot more under my belt. The book gives me real examples to complete but does not give me that "personal" touch. Thanks Erica for being my personal coach. This has worked perfectly.
  • This was really helpful, although *very* fast paced! But gave me a lot of great ideas to take my InDesign use to another level. Thanks!