If you produce documents which include tables then you will love Adobe InDesign’s table styles feature. With one click of your mouse you can format your entire table applying one set of formatting styles to the headings, another for the table body and yet another set to the table footer. So, how does this magic work?
To answer this question, we must begin by looking at how InDesign tables are constructed. The first thing is that tables have to be placed inside a text box; this is in stark contrast to QuarkXPress where tables are an independent object. To create a table in InDesign, choose Insert Table from the Table menu. You will notice that, in addition to the number of columns, the Insert Table dialog allows you to include no fewer than three types of row in your new table: body rows, header rows and footer rows. This distinction is important if you plan to use table styles: if you want the top row(s) of your table to be formatted differently from the body of the table, then you must insert at least one header row.
Another fact to bear in mind in the context of InDesign table cells is that tables are composed of cells, while cells contain text. This hierarchy is reflected in the way that InDesign table styles work: The table style includes cell styles and those cell styles, in turn, contain paragraph styles. Thus, to begin creating a table style, you should logically begin by creating one or more paragraph styles then one or more cell styles and, finally, the table style.
Let us take the classic table format of a white text on a dark background for the first row of the table then a tint of the dark colour as the background to the cells in the body of the table with black text. You would begin by creating a paragraph style for the white text in the top row and another for the text in the body of the table. Next you would create a cell style for the background of the table header and another for the table body with a tint of the colour you used for the background of the table head. When creating the cell styles, you would choose the appropriate paragraph style from the General category of the New Cell Style dialog.
Having set up your paragraph and cell styles, you are finally ready to create the table style itself. Choose New Table Style from the Table Styles panel menu. At the bottom of the New Table Style dialog, you get to choose a cell style not only for the header cells, body cells and footer cells of the table, but also for the left and right columns.
This nesting of styles within styles makes it really easy to format an entire table with a single table style. To apply a table style to a table, just click anywhere inside the table then click on one of the table styles listed in your Table Styles panel.
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