12 Replies Latest reply on Dec 5, 2014 11:03 AM by S. Jolliffe

    Tables with different-width columns

    S. Jolliffe Level 1

      Whist creating a table with multiple rows and columns, I need some of the columns to be different widths on each row. I can do this easily in Word by simply selecting the cell and command-drag the vertical line at the left or right hand side.

      When I do this in InDesign, the whole damn column moves. I do not want this.

      Also - as in Word - I need to be able to calculate sums.

      Why is none of this possible with such a powerful application like InDesign CC 2014? Seems like Microsoft Word kicks InDesign CC 2014's *** on this.

        • 1. Re: Tables with different-width columns
          SJRiegel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Shift-drag to move column dividers without changing the total table width.

           

          As far as calculating sums -- InDesign is a layout program, not an Office application. It is expected that the calculations would be performed before the data comes into InDesign.

          • 2. Re: Tables with different-width columns
            S. Jolliffe Level 1

            I KNOW shift drag alters the column dividers - but it also drags ALL the columns above and below!!
            I use used to use Word to do my invoices but I loathe and detest Word with a vengance. InDesign of course does a much better job of layout in general but fails when it comes to laying out complicated forms and tables. I use a SmartStyles plug-in by Woodwing for the calculations but I think, for what we pay, Adobe should incorporate such features.

            • 3. Re: Tables with different-width columns
              SJRiegel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              OK -- I didn't understand that you wanted to change the width on just one column. The only way to do that in InDesign is to use the Merge Columns function.

              • 4. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                Jeffrey_Smith Most Valuable Participant

                There are some scripts and plug-ins available for basic table calculations in Indesign.

                 

                But, if it was my project, I'd look into a workflow that keeps a spreadsheet's data external to the layout, but updates content automatically once data has been styled in Indesign.

                • 5. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                  John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  S. Jolliffe wrote:

                   

                  ...but it also drags ALL the columns above and below!!

                  As it should. The developers at Microsoft overstepped the practical boundaries of table functionality when they allowed individual cell-width adjustment. If that feature was critical to your methods, you best stick with Word, or rethink your need for an authentic table.

                  • 6. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                    S. Jolliffe Level 1

                    I need to design and layout complicated forms for on-site engineers to fill in on completion of work carried out. These are not "tables", they are forms.

                    • 7. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                      S. Jolliffe Level 1

                      Yes I know all about splitting and merging to achieve different widths within a column. A clunky, inaccurate workaround.

                      • 8. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                        S. Jolliffe Level 1

                        It's not a complicated spreadsheet, it's my simple invoice with a nice design and layout (not as easily achievable in Word), with a few rows and columns, a "total" box at the bottom with a (SUM_ABOVE) formula. Is that too much too ask?
                        I'm currently using SmartStyles by Woodwing but I'm about to try Math Magic Pro.

                        • 9. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                          John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          These are not "tables", they are forms.

                          I understand that. But if you are using a table as the basis of a form's layout, then it indeed is inescapably a table, and subject to the table features of the application.

                           

                          Here's the thing:

                          You're not missing anything. No one will come along to uncover a hidden trick that will make InDesign work like Word. InDesign is a specialized tool, and it's evolutionary process is guided by the priorities of the specialty. A level of flexibility that renders a table as something other than a table and the ability to do spreadsheet-style calculations are simply not high priorities.

                           

                          Rereading your original post, you might as well be saying, "I expect this screwdriver to do everything my Swiss Army Knife does."

                          • 10. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                            John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                            It's not a complicated spreadsheet, it's my simple invoice with a nice design and layout (not as easily achievable in Word), with a few rows and columns, a "total" box at the bottom with a (SUM_ABOVE) formula. Is that too much too ask?

                            Okay, so it's a live, on-screen form? In that case, a calculation function inside InDesign would be of no value, unless the form's users are all going to fill it out inside InDesign. What you describe is quite easily setup in Acrobat after you've exported from InDesign.

                            • 11. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                              S. Jolliffe Level 1

                              No it's not a live, on-screen form. One is an invoice that is emailed as a pdf. Another is a form with sections and tick boxes, detailing work carried out and filled in by on-site engineers, signed by the engineer and the customer, who then keep a copy each.

                              • 12. Re: Tables with different-width columns
                                S. Jolliffe Level 1

                                I do not want InDesign to work like Word, oh no. I just designed a 200 page book in InDesign - it was a breeze. I shudder at the thought of having to do that in Word. The table functions of the application are limited. Here's the thing, I want to be able to layout a specialised table/form with my specialised design tool and be able to specify the sizes of columns, cells and rows as I choose, and change on the fly if necessary. My screwdriver drives screws in - and back out again as I choose. I can slide an individual column divider one way but not the other. It's a bit like having an all singing-all dancing  Swiss Army knife that doesn't have the corkscrew, and your out on a picnic with a nice bottle of red in your basket.
                                A guy from Adobe remote-shared my screen, telling me what I wanted to achieve was possible. I showed him using Word how easy it was. He tried and failed in InDesign and conceded that it was in fact not possible. He gave me a link to Adobe for a feature request!