12 Replies Latest reply on Mar 1, 2017 4:14 AM by John Mensinger

    Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...

    Joe Seven Level 1

      I need to layout a pretty long document that will include a lot of financials (see attached sample). I'd prefer to keep the financials in the document flow (ie inside the main threaded text frame). In any case, wondering if this type of chart should be setup using tables or tabs? All the horizontal rules make me think that tables would be easier, but perhaps I'm wrong.

       

      Related question: can tables be put inside threaded text frames, so that they move with the text flow?

       

      Thanks! Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 11.05.30 AM.png

        • 1. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
          smoothsea Level 3

          Hi,

           

          Yes - tables are what you want. They can indeed be put into the text flow and you can use cell and table styles to control your layout.

           

          Regards,

           

          Malcolm

          • 2. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
            Joel Cherney Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            I could go either way, on that example. Much depends on where the data is coming from. If it's all in Excel, I might save out tab-delimited text from Excel, import as raw text, and then use paragraph styles to set tab stops and add paragraph rules. If it's in tables in Word, I would totally place the tables and format them. If you're scraping the data out of a PDF, I would probably save .docx out of the PDF, which would almost certainly auto-generate tables.

             

            One case that would make tables much better than tabs and rules is if any of the text cells require multi-line text. If so, then I would use tables without a second thought.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
              John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Yes, surely tables.

              Related question: can tables be put inside threaded text frames, so that they move with the text flow?

              That's their default, and only, behavior.

              • 4. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                Laubender Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Hi Joe,

                one addition to what John said:
                In fact a table is stored inside a special character that can only live inside a text frame.

                 

                So if you place a table from e.g. an Excel file to a separate text frame you can always copy/paste that one character in the text frame to an insertion point of your main story. Selecting the table and copy/paste it to an insertion point would also work. Or you could thread the text frame with the table to the main story of text frames that is running from page to page if that is your intention.

                 

                Regards,
                Uwe

                • 5. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                  jane-e Adobe Community Professional

                  Here's what it looks like in the Story Editor when you insert a table to the cursor. The table element can be collapsed.

                   

                  • 6. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                    Joe Seven Level 1

                    Thanks for the helpful information!

                    • 7. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                      Joe Seven Level 1

                      All the text and tables were given to me in a PDF file. Would you recommend converting the PDF to .docx, then importing into InDesign? I've seen an InDesign plugin called PDF2ID, any experience with that?

                      • 8. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                        Laubender Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        Hi Joe,

                        oh boy…

                         

                        Have a try with the latest Acrobat Pro DC to save the PDF to docx.

                        With earlier versions I would not recommend this.

                         

                        Regards,
                        Uwe

                        • 9. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                          Joel Cherney Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          Yeah, Uwe is right, the .docx export of DC is much better than in previous versions.

                           

                          I just did a bit of a project that involved extracting tabular data from a whole bunch of material safety data sheets that all looked the same, more or less, but had subtle differences that would cause exported documents to vary widely in quality. If you save a file out of Acrobat and the output isn't a table, or isn't a useful table, you can try playing around with the Settings button to see if you can change the output - you can also try saving out to RTF or .doc to see if the output is different. If your install of Word is recent enough, you can let it open the PDF directly and it will perform its own conversion.

                           

                          And yes, I've seen the output from both PDF2DTP and PDF2ID, and they're both quite good in some situations. However, there are so many different ways that the PDF format can be interpreted that for any given document production method, your only choice is to try it and see.

                          • 10. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                            Joe Seven Level 1

                            So I followed the advice given here and used Acrobat DC to convert the client financials PDF into a .docx file. I then placed that into InDesign. Seemed to work pretty well.

                             

                            I have a lot of different tables to style now. I'm thinking the best workflow would be to format a few initial tables, create table styles, then apply them to the remaining unstyled tables as I work through the document, and cleanup where necessary. Does that sound right? My experience with table styles is that they don't work perfectly (most of the time).

                             

                            A lot of the tables I'm dealing with need to have rows with thin horizontal stokes running below or above them (as per my original image sample). I don't think table styles will help me here, as the frequency and location of these horizontal stroke rows change from table to table? Should I be looking at cell styles for this? Or just do it manually?

                             

                            Thanks again! 

                            • 11. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                              Laubender Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              Hi Joe,

                              cell styles is the way to go.

                               

                              Assisted maybe by a script written by Gerald Singelmann, that can save column width to table styles ( and more ):

                              Set table-columns numerically II | InDesign FAQ

                               

                              For more automation with styles ( not only tables ) you probably need a plug-in by Woodwing:

                              Smart Styles - Adobe InDesign plugin | WoodWing Software

                               

                              Hint: There is a 30days trial.

                               

                              Regards,
                              Uwe

                              • 12. Re: Tables or tabs? Looking for advice...
                                John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                Should I be looking at cell styles...?

                                Certainly. Table styles don't work unless you build them "from the bottom up" starting with cell styles.