31 Replies Latest reply on Feb 15, 2013 4:48 PM by BobLevine



      Although we have been using Aldus/Adobe since 1986, the one thing we would to see Adobe produce is a decent table.   I am only been playing around wirth CS5 since yesterday but it does appear that the table feature is no less cumbersome than its predecessors.   Our books and Magazines contain a great many tables therefore we have to have a system that is simple and quick to use.


      For many years our method of tables has been:

      1. Create the table in Excel

      2. Autoformat (very useful function although not 100% reliable)

      3. Convert the table to a pdf.

      4. Place in Indesign.


      I am not sure that the built-in Indesign table would be as effective to use.   To have to specify the number of  rows ad columns in advance, the lack of an auto-format and the loss of some of the Excel facilities would be an encumbrance.



      Unless, of course, someone can suggest otherwise!

        • 1. Re: TABLES
          BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          InDesign's table feature is pretty powerful but certainly not perfect. If all of the tables have the same look / feel then the use of cell and table styles would be good. But, you can place a fully formatted Excel table in ID which would allow you to update that table on the fly.



          • 2. Re: TABLES
            xpressbooks Level 1

            That will be worth pursuing and I shall try and follow it up.   One of the great backward steps taken about 12 years ago was when we lost OLE.   Prior to that we could amend our tables in Excel and they were automatically updated in Pagemaker.   Needless to say, every table we ever produced has to be amended a dozen times before going to print.

            Many thanks,


            • 3. Re: TABLES
              BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

              I strongly disagree with you about OLE. In theory it was great...in practice, it was a disaster waiting to happen with PM.



              • 4. Re: TABLES
                xpressbooks Level 1

                We used it extensively.   I don't remember any particular problems.

                • 5. Re: TABLES
                  xpressbooks Level 1

                  I've spent the last half hour creating a CS5 table by copying data from an existing Excel file and pasting it into a CS5 table and the results are encouraging - a great improvement on the last Adobe table I toyed with.    I may get one our people to play around with this and see if it can be used to replace Excel.   I presume CS5 tales do not have spreadsheet properties (ie ordering of contents, etc?

                  Bill B

                  • 7. Re: TABLES
                    xpressbooks Level 1

                    The CS5 tables are a great improvement on what went before and shall see to what extent we can use them to replace Excel.   When you state that they can be updated on the fly, I presume you mean via the text editor.


                    I have sent off for a book on CS5 - I find these on line help things very difficult to use and understand - so no doubt all its secrets will be laid bare although being a holiday I suppose I shall have to wait a week for them to arrive.   In the meantime, is it possible to transfer matter from Excel to a CS5 table without losing the formatting?

                    • 8. Re: TABLES
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                      No, Bob said you could place (not paste) a fully formatted table from Excel. If you set your preferences to Link rather than embed Text and SpreadSheets on import BEFORE you place the table you'll get a linked file. You update this in Excel, just as you would update a linked image in Photoshop or Illustrator.


                      The reason you want to fully format in Excel is that you will probably lose any formatting changes made in ID when the table updates. In theory, Table Styles are supposed to preserve formatting, even on linked tables, but I've not had a lot of personal success with table styles (and in case you don't already know, I hate working with tables and avoid them whenever I can).

                      • 9. Re: TABLES
                        xpressbooks Level 1

                        Peter, many thanks for this.   I seem to have devoted the weekend to experiementing with CS5 tables and any little help is grist to the mill.   If there is a way of linking an Excel table to a CS5 Table, that would solve a lot of problems. 

                        Unfortunately our books and magazines rely very heavily on tables and there is no avoiding the subject for us.


                        • 10. Re: TABLES
                          BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                          As Peter says (and I left out) you must change the default linking behavior and place the table. You then have to choose formatted table when placing. You'll also be able to choose any named ranges in your file.


                          Table style choices will be grayed out with this choice since you'll be getting the formatting directly from Excel.


                          Some caveats:


                          1. InDesign will not honor zero space for cell insets so you may wind up with overset cells in some instances. Dave Saunders wrote a script that fixes this in one pass a while back. Not sure if it still works with CS5.

                          2. You cannot do any formatting at all in InDesign which means you'll need to be careful about your color choices since they'll be coming in as RGB. Black will be honored.

                          3. You'll need to experiment a bit with cell size since the measurements in Excel are not as precise as those in InDesign.


                          Hope that helps,



                          • 11. Re: TABLES
                            xpressbooks Level 1

                            Many thanks - I shall be doing much experimenting this weekend

                            (so please don't move too far from a terminal.......)


                            Fortunately we can live without colours in a table - most (all)  of our stuff is sober, technical matter - but I have to follow up the linking suggestion.


                            • 12. Re: TABLES
                              xpressbooks Level 1

                              I have made some progress.   I have managed to import an Excel file (16 x 76) with a variety of formatting and styles.   After experimenting a lot with cell sizes and establishing a standard, the result was not bad and no worse than an imported pdf.


                              The next step is to update the Excel table and see if the CS5 echoes the change without falling to pieces in some way!   I could do with some hints on this!


                              I shall be happier when my manuals arrive..............

                              Bill B

                              • 13. Re: TABLES
                                BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                The only tip is to make sure the Excel file is closed before trying to update it in InDesign.



                                • 14. Re: TABLES
                                  xpressbooks Level 1


                                  I must make expression of gratitude for the assistance received over the last day or two.   I have got to the stage of getting a linked Excel file into Indesign (without loss of formatting lines, etc) and once I have discovered how to update it via the link, the exercise will be complete.

                                  I certainly see the road clear to reducing if not eliminating our dependancy on Excel (which has so e curious side effects).


                                  • 15. Re: TABLES
                                    Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                    ID keeps track of the status of all linked files. If they change you'll see a yellow warning triangle next to the link name. Select the link inthe Panel and click the update button. If the link cahnges while the file is closed, and you haven't turned off the warning in the prefs or by Don't show again, ID should warn you that there is a modified link and ask if you want to update the next time the file is opened.


                                    How does this get you away from a dependence on Excel?

                                    • 16. Re: TABLES
                                      xpressbooks Level 1

                                      In the past we have had to:

                                      1. Create tabkes in Excel

                                      2. Manually adjust (quite a procedure)

                                      3. Print as a pdf

                                      4. Place in Indesign.


                                      If an alteration has to be made to the table - and it is a rare table that gets away with more than two or three amendments - the process has to be restarted.   Although it is a relatively simple process, it is time consuming.


                                      Not the least of the Excel problems is the fact that what you see on the screen is not necessarily what you get in the pdf!   Try this:

                                      Open an Excel table, format as text and enter 'ABER' in cells A1 to A10 and A12 to A25.   In A 11 enter ABERYTWYTH.

                                      Enter '123' in cells B1 to B25.


                                      Autoformat the cells and on the screen everything looks ATGLI.   However print it out as a pdf, on paper (or go to print and preview) and you will see that the last character or two of ABERYSTWYTH has dissapeared under 123.   In other words alphabetical characters significantly longer than the average for the column tend to be overwritten by numerical entries to the right.


                                      This is not a new problem, we have been living with it since Office 2000 and - mirabile dictu - if is still present in Office 2010!   Microsoft have been told time and time again and sent examples but they refuse to accept that there is a problem.


                                      This is not the only excel problem we have but it is the worst because it adds so much time to table creation.   (Last month we had another ritual mioan at Microsoft and this time they did agree that the problem existed.   They stated that it was due to a conflict with Adobe Acrobat and that if we expunged Acrobat from all our machines, all would be well!


                                      It seems that now we may be able to make the first instance of the table in Excel (although why not do it straight away in Indesign?), place it in indesign and do any subsequent alternations in Indesign.   It is something I shall be thinking about.



                                      It appears that we shall be able to

                                      • 17. Re: TABLES
                                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                        The problem you describe with too much text in a cell being overwritten by the text from the next cell to the right is normal Excel behavior. Excel shows extended text only if there is no data in the next cell. To see ALL the data in all cells you have to live with autofitting and having rows or columns change height or width (depending on if you've enbled wrap within a cell). I don't think placing the table in in ID is going to fix that.

                                        • 18. Re: TABLES
                                          xpressbooks Level 1

                                          'The problem you describe with too much text in a cell being overwritten by the text from the next cell to the right is normal Excel behavior'.   Try telling Microsoft!



                                          In the few tests I have done, when we import from Excel to Indesign, we have to adjust the cell sizes anyway but since they are all one of two widths and identical height, it is no great problem.   It seems that when you amend an Excel table and relink in Indesign, the cell sizes, etc, all have to be reset


                                          Unfortunately, in Pubishing you do not have the luxury of time : accuracy and speed are the watchwords.   I wish the software world was aware of this!

                                          • 19. Re: TABLES
                                            BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                            Based on that, I have to question your use of Excel at all. Just do it in InDesign.



                                            • 20. Re: TABLES
                                              BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                              Did you not read my earlier notes along with caveats on doing this?



                                              • 21. Re: TABLES
                                                xpressbooks Level 1

                                                That is what I am thinking of.   I am not the only one involved - once I have acquired a grasp of things I then have to get the unwashed to drop the habits of a lifetime and adopt a new way of doing things.


                                                However, for all its failings, Excel has a number of useful points such as anticipating words from the first letters, etc and data sorting, etc. 


                                                Anyway, at least we should be able to accelerate the existing methods and for that I am grateful.


                                                • 22. Re: TABLES
                                                  BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                                  Did you check out the link I posted earlier for DTP Tools?



                                                  • 23. Re: TABLES
                                                    xpressbooks Level 1

                                                    Yes, I did.   Thank you.   I will probably get one to try out - presumably it is obtainable in England - although I should prefer to keep the add-ons down to a minimum.   We used Wood Wing for tables for several books but it was not all it was cracked up to be.


                                                    • 24. Re: TABLES
                                                      xpressbooks Level 1

                                                      I sem to be getting long quite well with CS5 tables but there is one thing that defies all my attempts and hours spent poring over the manual that turned up this morning!


                                                      I set the basic parameters for a table (font, row height, length, Inset and aling centre) but I cannot get the thing to save this parameters with a name.   The idea being that I can import a table from outside, apply my table style so that the import immediately adopts my settings.



                                                      • 25. Re: TABLES
                                                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                                        Are you using the Table Styles panel?

                                                        • 26. Re: TABLES
                                                          xpressbooks Level 1

                                                          We have used every avenue that seems to be available. 

                                                          • 27. Re: TABLES
                                                            smoothsea Level 3

                                                            Hi Bob and Bill,


                                                            Bob - I'd have to say the opposite - forget Indesign and carry on with Excel (although it make me shudder a little to say it).


                                                            Bill - if you're doing all your table design in Excel anyway, what is the value in using Indesign to do the same job? It doesn't have cell sorting or other database features like Excel because it's not designed to do that job.


                                                            If you have to use Indesign to present the tables within a larger document, then that's fine - just link them as stated elsewhere in this thread and they will update on the fly when you change them in Excel.


                                                            Good luck!



                                                            • 28. Re: TABLES
                                                              xpressbooks Level 1

                                                              Excel is a very convenient medium for creating tables, especially ours which typically have

                                                              a dozen columns and 70 or 80 rows.   The ability to cope with repeat items

                                                              without the entry having to be typed in full is useful as is the auto-format



                                                              The problem comes with the processing since the difficulty of overriding columns means that every table has to be manually adjusted which is both tedious and hit and miss.   A further problem is that any amendment to the table means that the processing has to be repeated from scratch.


                                                              For the future, creating a table in Excel and then placing it in a CS5 table eliminates some of these processing problems, especially as amendments can be made straight into CS5.   The process, however, would be a great deal easier if we were able to store the parameters of a CS5 table and use them in the same way that an object style is used.   A suggestion has been made in this respect (creating a blank 'standard' table and importing the excel data) and I shall be looking at it anon.

                                                              • 29. Re: TABLES

                                                                I need to insert tables on the homepage of my website www.agenciawr.com.br could make anyone knows how to insert borderless? because every time I try it comes up with Edge = /

                                                                • 30. Re: TABLES
                                                                  BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                                                  What application are you using to create the website?



                                                                  • 31. Re: TABLES
                                                                    BobLevine MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                                                    It's a WordPress site. Sorry but this has nothing to do with InDesign.