The Complete Guide to InDesign® Styles

Lesson 7/8 - Create a Table Style


The Complete Guide to InDesign® Styles


Lesson Info

Create a Table Style

- [Erica] I'm going to start with table styles next. Now, I can hear everybody leaving. Everybody's just walking away. "I heard tables. I don't want to work with tables, I'm out of here." Come back, please. I promise it won't be bad. So tables. Everybody thinks, "Okay, tables, I'm going to put tabular information. I'm going to do annual reports and I'm going to list how much money we made," something like that, which is pretty much what I thought about tables when I first heard about them. I had no interest in them, and then I started realizing there was a lot of things I could use them for, interesting things. It's a great way to display information, first of all. Also, everything, even though it lives... I assume everybody knows what a table is. I should probably not assume that, but I do. Anybody that's worked in Excel, which I don't so I don't even really know how much it compares. But anything that lives in cells, cellular, tabular information. That's what we put in a table. But i...

n InDesign, we can use a table if you can think of anything that needs to be assigned and organized in columns or rows, that we don't necessarily see the columns and rows but it needs to be organized neatly as such, you can put that in a table. In fact, hopefully, I have some fun tables that are here. Let's come in here and that is Styles. Oh, come on. Table styles. Is this what I'm looking for? Nope. I have one that's just fun tables and maybe I didn't put that on there. It's one of those things I thought of at the last minute. I'm like, "Oh, yeah, those fun-style sample tables." Here we go. So these are things you're going to be like, "What. These are actual tables?" Yes, they are. So let's actually close this guy up. I'm going to jump to the first page. So this is a style. This is a table, right there. That's a table and we could make a style for that later on. This is a table. These two images, one of which is highly pixellated because I'm missing the image, these are actually tables as well. So this whole thing is a table. That's a table. So I made a grid using a table which is great because by making a table and setting the size of the cells. If this client came back and says, "Oh, well, I'd actually like to have each of these be half an inch instead of a quarter of an inch," then I don't have to actually redraw those lines in the box that surrounds it. I just tell it the size of my cell is different. That's a table. So I don't know how many people have to use forms and create forms. I have to create forms all the time. Not all of us get to work on the magazines and the slick-looking publications. Some of us make forms, that's what we have to do. And to do this in a table is huge because when I decide that I need a little bit more room for everybody to write, I don't have to change the size of 18 different boxes. I can just change the size of the cell, just grow that size a little bit. And the reason I'm showing you what tables look like is because when I make this, if you notice, this is one big cell where the name is and the space where someone's going to write that is a different one. They're different sizes, they have different qualities to them. What could I use to make sure they're always the same all the time and update them easily? Oh, I could use a cell style and I could say, "Oh, actually, I didn't want the background to be black anymore. I wanted it to be green." Well, I can change that in a style and it will automatically happen. Now imagine if you had an entire document full of forms like this and you suddenly needed to change all of them from this black background to a green background. By having a style, we can do it once. Let me jump to page 4. This is also a style. This I use tables for a lot. This is just like a catalog of information. Maybe I've done one that's for a school, a college one that has just all the courses listed. And I want to have alternating paragraph colors. Well, I can do that with a table and the great thing is when I add another one in-between these two, it will automatically recolor it all for me because it's sitting in this alternating pattern that knows when I create a new cell or a new line, a new row of information it will automatically change that. So basically, this table is a 4 row 1 column table. And so basically, it sees every paragraph as a new set of cells, a new row of cells. So again, I can set this up, save it as a style, a cell style and a table style so that when I go to create a whole new catalog, I don't have to worry about setting up individual frames that will have different backgrounds. I just put it in a table. And the text comes in and wherever there's a break in a paragraph, suddenly, there's a new row and it automatically has that alternating color assigned to it. So that's some fun things that you can do with tables. Let's figure out how we style it. So we thought before we had inception going with the object styles that have paragraph styles in them that have character styles embedded in them. Well, we're going to go two levels deeper with this. So starting from the beginning from the characters styles, we have character styles. We can nest those inside paragraph styles. We can take that paragraph style and we can actually nest that inside a cell style and that just means how we style one individual cell. But then, we can take all the ways we could style a cell and we can nest those inside a table style. So we can do something like this. So I'm going to show you with an unformatted table how quickly we can format this with styles. So I'm going to go ahead and use my Type tool. I'm going to double-click on this table. I'm going to do a couple of things actually first. So if this came in like this, I've got a footer and a header. I have to tell it first what a footer and header is, so I have to do a couple of things to the table really quickly. And if you haven't used tables, look into it. It's pretty fun. Like I said, I can take something like this where someone gives me this from Word, that's a table and this is all crammed in here and I want this to be one footer that goes all the way across. So I'm going to do a couple of things really quick. These are not part of styles, but this is how quickly I could format this table. I'm going to convert this row to a footer row and I'm also going to merge that cell. So that's a footer row. It doesn't look any different. And I do need to tell it that this is a header row. And the reason I'm going to do that is because I want this header to appear at the top of the table, even if this table gets split across pages. So you can actually flow a table from one page to the next or two places in the same page. So if I were to shorten up this text frame, it says, "Oops, there's more of that." I need to pick that up and I can click here and we can finish that. And by telling it that this was a header, it repeats that header down here as well and any place it appears, so I always have the header at the top. It also, unfortunately, repeats the footer and sometimes you don't want to do that. But by telling it it's a footer, it automatically says, "I'm going to put this at the end of every place this table appears." I'm going to undo that and just bring back the whole entire table so we have it. So I've told it that's a header row. Let's make sure that's still set as a header row and I didn't undo too much. Come here, convert, yes. It's a header row. Great. So I have that. It's a header. It's a footer. And then I'm just going to grab this and click on this table. I'm going to open up Table Styles. It's under the Window menu if it's not already open, under Styles, Table Styles. And I have one here that I already set up and I'm just going to say Hiking table. Now sometimes with the cell and the Table Styles, weird overrides come in and so sometimes when I assign it, it says there's a plus. So the first thing I usually do is Option/Alt+click to clear out any overrides because I don't know where they've come from anyway. Certainly, it wasn't anything I intended to do. When I deselect that, I suddenly have this entire table set up. You notice I have nice backgrounds on the header and the footer rows. I've got alternating colors on my table rows. I've even got left-justified text almost everywhere, except on the very right, I've decided that these need to be right-justified as well. So that is basically, like I said, paragraph styles inside cell styles inside this table style. So let's look at that individually. In fact, I can come in here and then say, "Oh, I would like this cell to be formatted with a cell style. And when you want to select an entire cell, if you just click inside the text and hit the Escape key, it grabs the whole entire cell. So now we're working with the cell and not the text in the cell. If I just select the text, I'm now working with things that might set the font or the size or if I use the paragraph panel, I'd be changing the alignment or something like that within the text within this cell. So I want to hit Escape so that I'm actually working with the whole entire cell itself and I'm going to open up Cell Styles. So in this case, I might have one that I just want to change to... Well, let's just change it to footer. When I do that, look what happens. It gets a bigger font and this background. Basically, I styled it to look just like that. So that's what this has. This actually has the footer style applied to it, but we don't see that because it's actually built into the table style. So you can't actually see that that's what's applied because it's doing it under the hood in the table style. So I can manually change each of those. So you might have one that you just need to call out, that doesn't fit the pattern. It doesn't need to fit in the alternating pattern. You also don't want it to fit the same justification, for whatever reason you want it centered and colored because maybe you just want to be like, "Hey, check out this one piece of information. This is super-important." So we might just have one that's called...I'm just using footer because that's what's there. But it might be one called call-out or sometimes if you're doing actual tabular information, you might have one that's called subtotal and you want that to look entirely different. I'm going to undo that and we're going to look at the actual cell styles that we have set up and then also the table styles that are made from those cell styles. All right, so I'm going to look at that and I'm just going to say, "Okay, whenever I create anything in a cell," and I'm not going to go over a lot of that because this is not tables 101, right? This is table styles. But when you're working with tables, one of the things you're going to do is actually style the cell itself. So one thing you might do is add a color. So we're just going to do that one simple thing. We're going to add this color. And I'm just going to drag the color because you can actually do that with the fills. You can just drag it to wherever. So that one that I created on the fun ones that said "workshop," that was just four columns, two rows, and then I just grabbed all the different colors and threw them in these cells. So now when I do that, we could create a cell style out of each of these if I wanted to and it would have this nice blue style that's here. So I'm going to Escape just so I have the whole cell selected. I'm going to go to the Cell Styles and I'm just going to Optional/Alt+click, just the same that we've been doing. We'll just call this Callout. So basically it says there's a fill color, right? That's it. I can have, if I want, in here, I can go ahead and put individual items in here but I don't need to. I'm just creating that and I'm not going to do any specific style, but this is where I can say, "In the call-out, I would like you to use a specific style that's here." All right, so I can do that and I can choose a paragraph style. If I said, "Okay, there's a paragraph style I want to use. Let's use one here." Or I can create one on the fly. Just so you know that whenever you're creating one on the fly, you can do this in a lot of places like the nested styles and all that, for whatever reason, there have been bugs throughout the versions of InDesign, that if you create it from here, it doesn't always work, it doesn't always update within the style itself. So I tend to go out, create whatever style I need first and then bring it into here. But again, this is where I can choose a paragraph style and say, "Every time we do a call-out, I would like a paragraph style that might be called call-out also." So I say OK, and now I have that style set up. I can come in here and assign that call-out here, that call-out here, just like we've been doing. So hopefully, that makes sense. That's how we do individual cell styles. So let's look at the cell styles that we have on this first page, on this formatted one. So some of the things that we have in here is I have right-justified text. We can see that it's right-justified text here. And then these are left-justified. And again, I set up each of these as a cell style. We can't see them because they're built into the table style. But this is a body row left which is the same as body rows. They actually are the same. I just have them called out separate so we can see how we build the table style together. And I have one called body rows right because again those are right-justified and the difference being, actually, the reason I do have the left and the regular one, a body row in the middle here, if you notice, all the lines are this thinner one point but on the left ones I decided that I wanted the outside to have a thicker stroke. So that's what the body row left actually has, is this left stroke is thicker. And then on the right one that's right-justified, the right stroke is thicker. So I just did that so that I get this nice bold line all the way around it. I was just being difficult, basically. All right, so let's jump into the table styles and look at what we have in this table style. So I'm actually going to select all these and I'm going to tell it Hiking Table and I'm going to Option/Alt+click. And I want to make sure I get rid of it, but you notice it didn't get rid of those cell styles. That's because that's the order that they are applied in so they're still there. So I have to go into the cell styles and what I want to do is I'm going to say None. I don't want any cell styles here at all. So I keep Option-clicking on everything until I see no pluses, and that means I have no overrides. That way I don't have those individual ones that we just created that were on there. So in this table style, let's look at this table style. And I just applied the style. Let's see what that looks like. So this is a lot of stuff, right? And that seems overwhelming. I'm never going to look in there because that just scares me. I'm not even going to worry about it. What we want to do is come in here, and I can choose things like table setup and row strokes but it's going to take the information from the cell first. That's why that outside line I didn't actually create as part of the table style. I did it as the individual cell styles just because of the way it chooses what's more important because sometimes there's the same information in both places. Basically, in the table style, here's what I set up. Down here, what cell styles are in there? So when I tell something, "This is a header row." it will actually apply the header row cell style to it. Same with the footer row and I have to actually convert it to a header or a footer. I can't just assume it knows that it's at the front so it must be a header. So I need to actually tell it that. The body rows, so most of the body rows are going to be this body row cell style that I created. And again, it's got the stroke that is thin all the way around. But I also can choose left and right column. Now if you don't care about that and let's say that the alignment is center in all your rows and the strokes are even all the way around, don't choose anything extra. You can just say Same as Body Rows because there's no reason to make a whole new style that looks exactly the same as your other style. So you can say it's the same if you don't need your left and your right column to look any different in any way. You can't say, for instance, say that you want the third column to look a certain way, unfortunately. We don't have any way to do that because when we're styling a table, we don't get to tell it, "It has this many rows." That's content, that's more content of what is in a table. So we can't tell it that. We can tell it what it looks like, what the individual cells look like. Obviously, what a header and a footer row looks like, and we can do this right and left thing. But we can't tell it that it has five columns or eight columns. Basically, that's up to us to create those columns that are there. There is a plugin that I believe lets you set the number. It's called the Smart Styles. I believe it's from Teacup Software. I could be wrong, I can't remember anymore, but it's called Smart Styles and that gives you a lot more options over that. I think they're still making it. They used to before you could do styles in InDesign directly. That's all we had. It is pricey. It's like a $200 plugin, but it does a lot of stuff but that's one of the cool things it does. And then you can set up how many rows. So you can actually hard-boil that into to the table itself. This just lets us tell it what it looks like, not so much what it's made of. Okay, so I have that. I don't usually set much here at all. It looks like I have a border. You notice, it's a zero point border and it's this blue, but I'm ignoring that because my outside border for the table is all built by the individual strokes that are there. And in fact, because I put this thick stroke on the left side and the right side, I had to also make sure that I have a thick stroke set up on the header, even though you think, "I won't need that because it's filled with that same color." But if I don't do that, then this stroke sticks out a little bit too far because in a table the strokes are always going to grow either side of the actual stroke that's there. As it gets fatter, half of it goes in and half of it goes out. So we need to keep that in mind. So I'm just going to go ahead and basically set up what I need here and leave everything else there. And we can also base this style on another style. Just like we've been able to with all the text styles, we can base a table style on another style. And we say OK. And so that's basically how we build a table style. And then the great thing is when I create a new page and I want to create a new table or if I want to import a table, if I'm bringing in a table from somewhere else, I also have the same option. But if I want to create a table, and I always forget there's a new tool in InDesign, and I say "new," it's probably two years old now at least. But in the old days, we had to create a text frame. So if you have an older version, you have to create a text frame and then you have to go under Table and tell it Insert Table. Or if you have text you can convert it to a table. But I forget that now we have a tool, we can actually do Create Table. We don't need to create a text frame first and then bring it in. We just say Create Table. But the great thing is, I can tell it that it's eight rows by eight columns, and let's actually give it a header row and a footer row, and I can choose that table style to start with. So as I do that, it's already completely set. So as I draw out the shape, there's my table ready to go. It's already pre-populated with all the styling. Now I just need to put the information in here and of course, I can come in here and I can just say and this is column A. I hit a tab that sends me to the next column, and I'm obviously using a font that I don't have built in. Let's do bold, we'll change this to bold. Now, of course, I have an override because I actually made changes to that and that is not actually what it should look like. So my cell style actually has some overridden font information that's there. But you can see how easy that is when you're ready to create one, or like I said, if you're bringing one in from somewhere else, it will ask you what style do you want to apply to that. Boom, that comes in. It's already formatted. All you need to do is just figure out how much space it needs to take up and if you're going to split it across pages or anything like that. But again, you have that option built into the styles that are already there. So that's cell and table styles. You have questions on that? - [Interviewer] I'm going to handle the biggest one first. This is we go. I'm just going to dive in. "I have a data-driven publication that is a directory of names, titles, and addresses, and phone numbers and four lines of text separated by two hard returns. Can I define a single paragraph style or nest of styles that has the body, text, and second line of italics, the bold first word of the first line, and the bold phone number after a tab, so that every dataset is automatically styled and I don't have to manually modify over 1000 sets of data?" - Should be able to, but trying to visualize that is a little bit... Let me tell you this. If you want to send me a sample of that... (inaudible) Sometimes for me, actually looking at and going, "This is what I have versus this is what I need." Shoot me an email on that. It sounds like you can. It sounds like you want to style it. That sounds like an easy nested style. You should be able to be able to put in a repeating, especially if he's got those extra returns that are there. But yeah, shoot me an email and I guess I'll do that now. I'll say what my email is. It's So E-R-I-C-A G-A-M-E-T. You can find me online,, everywhere. So yeah, shoot me an email. Show me what you need. It sounds like that's totally automatable. Is that a word? Automatable? Sure, that's my word for the day. Yeah, it sounds like it totally... And it may be, if it's a lot more data-driven, there are also plugins that are out there that are built for catalog and stuff that, if it's too big to handle with what's built into InDesign. Absolutely.

Class Description

When working on page layouts for brochures, publications, catalogs or annual reports, it’s essential to create a logical workflow. Whether you work in print, digital, or a mixture, mastering text and object styles in InDesign is a necessary skill. Styles will speed up your design process and result in consistency and better looking work. Erica Gamet is an Adobe Certified Expert and in this class she teaches you how to master styles, including: 

  • What styles are and why you should use them 
  • Setting up paragraph, character and object styles 
  • Headers, subheads, bullets, numbering, pull quotes and more 
Erica shares with you in a practical format how she works with styles and what it takes to master them. if you don't know how to use styles, you're missing out on an important feature that saves you time (and money). Using styles is an industry best practice, and you owe it to yourself to master the art and science of using them.

Software Used: Adobe InDesign CC 2017


a Creativelive Student

Another amazing class Erica. I'm going to have to purchase the one because it's so much cool content I didn't know.


Lots of good information to make using InDesign efficiently. Thank you for this!

DOlores RUsso

You are the consummate online teacher! And as you know, teaching teachers is the worst ever...and I can I honestly say (as a photoshop teacher) , I love how you are so organized and you just keep going. We are focused!