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Getting rid of blank table cells

Apr 2, 2012 4:30 PM

Tags: #tables #table_cells #blank_cells

I am currently making an address book and have had to occasionally remove names from the listings. What this means is that there are now blank cells all through out my address book. How can I remove those cells?

  • lilia@
    196 posts
    Jan 31, 2012
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    Apr 3, 2012 9:00 PM   in reply to pik80

    Perhaps merge the blank cell with the one next to it or change the style (fill/stroke) of the cell so it appears like it's not there.

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    Apr 3, 2012 10:07 PM   in reply to pik80

    Shift + Backspace: Delete Column

    Cmd/Ctrl + Backspace: Delete Row


    Or Right Click > Delete > Row/Column/Table

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    Apr 4, 2012 5:02 PM   in reply to pik80

    pik80 wrote:



    The problem I am having with deleting an entire row is that in this case there are two cells in each row and even though one cell may be empty the other might have text in it. Therefore deleting a row would also delete some of the text it that row along with the blank cell.


    I guess in that case I don't understand the problem. Blank cells is normal but if you must have it as one, you need to select the 2 cells in the row and "merge cells". Personally I would just leave it as is and turn any strokes you have on the table off so you don't see the lines. You can't "remove the cells" individually.


    Alternatively, make your address book using paragraph styles with tabs.

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    Apr 4, 2012 5:14 PM   in reply to pik80

    My hunch is that you're expecting something like table cell behavior in Word - which gives you the choice of "shift cells up" or "shift cells left" when you delete a few individual cells in the middle of a table. However, as you've discovered, you really can't delete individual table cells in InDesign.


    You ought to post a screenshot so that your readership isn't guessing what your addressbook looks like - only then can we make reasonable suggestions. However, for what it's worth, it sounds to me like Rik is on the right track; a table is not a good way to manage this data. If you can show us what your data looks like, we can probably suggest 1) an easy way to get your data out of the table, and 2) a way to handle the data that will make future updates easy.

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    Apr 4, 2012 7:40 PM   in reply to pik80

    I am surprised that Word would be much smarter at doing this; InDesign has had the tables feature for qutie a while now I would have thought they would have worked this out by now. 




    Corrupt tables are pretty much the primary cause of corrupt Word documents. I've never seen a table cause a corrupt InDesign document. Word allows a lot of table-mangling, but I'd say that giving table-manglers what they want is the exact opposite of "smart."  Tables in Word are pure hell. InDesign's table implementation (purchased from a third party plugin developer, if I recall correctly), while not as... er... flexible as that of Word, is far more stable. I guess it depends on what you think is smart.


    Anyhow, back to what you want:

    The reason I designed it using tables like this is because this is the way that my client said they wanted it to be.


    Well, I hope you bill hourly.   There is a way to automate this, I think, using InDesign's Data Merge feature. If you aren't billing hourly, then it may be worth setting up - moving all of the content into an application like Excel, a spreadsheet app where it's really easy to do address-book-entry-management the way you want, and does not induce corruption when you have to spot-delete individual cells, unlike some other apps I can think of. You can then save a file out of Excel, and InDesign can automagically fill up your tables with content from your Excel file, with no gaps. When your client wants changes, then you just tweak your Excel file a bit, export, and then run the Data Merge to get your gap-free table back.


    However, that'd be a lot of work, and I can't even guarantee that it would work, never having tried it. But it's where I'd go in your shoes if my dataset wasn't this small:


    my list of names is relatively short so cutting and pasting shouldn't take too much time.


    Lastly, I think that your client might not care about whether or not they're in table cells; they just want it to look that way, right? If so, there are many, many ways to set up your doc that don't involve tables, that still yield the desired appearance. If you want to go in that direction, I can toss out a few ideas - I think that Rik already has, although his suggestion is a little bit low on detail.

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    Apr 4, 2012 8:09 PM   in reply to pik80

    There are a few ways to combat this, and as Joel has pointed out, I doubt your client would really care if it was IN tables, as long as it looked like it was.


    Using Data Merge: Link to Adobe Help on Data Merge

    The best and most efficient way for future updates is Data Merge. However, you would not be able to put each piece of content in a table. You would need to add each field inside a text box that you have sized to the maximum size each address would be - example, you have 8 addresses per page so the width of the box would be half page size and the height of each would be 1/4 page size. Only create one text box using this method. Once you have the box, use the Data merge panel to preview 'multiple records per page' and it should then populate the page with as many boxes as it can. If it looks ok, you can run the merge.


    Each box would contain something like:









    If <cell> was blank, then the <car> moves up in it's place etc etc.


    Not Using Data Merge

    1. You could have each address in one table cell which would solve your problem, so again a grid of 2 columns and 4 rows.
    2. You could use paragraph styles. An easy way would be to set 2 styles - 'Content' and then 'Content last'. The content style would be the normal style with normal spacing, but the content last style would have additional spacing to separate that address from the following address. Add 'content' to all fields except the last, and add last to... well, I think you get the idea. Then just make your text box have 2 columns and it's all ready to go.


    There are no doubt a few other ways too but these should give you a good start.

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    Apr 5, 2012 3:16 AM   in reply to pik80

    I haven't read the whole thread, so this may be a bit off, but I just looked at the picture. Data Merge could, in theory, do this and leave out the blank lines. I say in theory because Blank means blank -- no spaces or punctuation you've added between fields on the line. And of course you would have to set up your text file and run the merge, which is time consuming (the setting up part) and you may already be deep into this (in fact it sounds like you already have a file you want to edit).


    Another possibility that I don't think has been mentioned is to convert the table to text (Table > Convert Table to Text...). Though there are other options, typically you would use tabs inthe converted text to define the columns (you look like you have only one column) and paragraph returns to define the rows. Once it's text you can edit and the text will reflow, or run find/change to remove multiple whitespace or all paragraphs with a particular style, or whatever.


    I have to agree with the others here that making a directory that is an actual "Table" rather than tabulated text is a nightmare.


    For what it's worth I just finished up a directory project. It lists member names, addresses, email websites, and multiple phone numbers, any of which might be missing, all with an index number. The main listing is sorted by town, then by business name (and uses a numbered list to generate the index number), and it also has two alphabetical lists of just names or business names with the main list number. I use data merge, and I spend an hour or two initially setting up an Excel spreadsheet with the information (I get a database dump from the client), then export a new text file and do my merge. Inevitably the client makes three or four rounds of changes, and because many of these affect ordering it is often easier to re-sort in Excel, then run the merge again. The part that is time-consuming is the work in Excel, not the merge itself, though I have only a few hundred names.

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    Apr 5, 2012 4:33 PM   in reply to pik80

    Your sample looks to me like a simple two-column layout. Since I don't see the cell edges I don't know what is waht in terms of table layout now, but it's easy to set up a baseline grid and align the first line of a paragraph to it, if you want to have the same amount of listings in each column and vary the space between, with each lisitng starting at a set distance from the top. If the number of listings can vary it's even simpler.

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