Section 40. Importing Tables from Word and Excel

#40. Importing Tables from Word and Excel

In most workflows, data that will be presented in a tablewhether it's financial data for an annual report or a price list for a catalogis born in another program. It might be extracted from an accounting system and stored in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, or it might be a table a writer produced in Microsoft Word. Either way, InDesign makes it easy for you to handle tables created elsewhere: You import them like you import other text files. See #21 for information about importing text.


In InDesign, tables are always anchored in a text frame and always flow with surrounding text. For more information about anchored objects, see #37.

Importing Tables

To import tables from Word or Excel:


Choose File > Place.


In the Place dialog box, navigate to and select the Word (.doc) or Excel (.xls) file.


Check Show Import Options.


Click Open.


In the Formatting area in the Microsoft Word Import Options dialog box, make sure Preserve Formatting from Text and Tables is selected. In the Formatting area in the Microsoft Excel Import Options dialog box, make sure Formatted Table is selected from the Table menu (Figure 40).

Figure 40. The Microsoft Excel Import Options dialog box lets you customize how Excel tables are imported into InDesign.


Click OK.


Since the table is treated like text, the table is either imported at the text insertion point or the cursor is loaded and you click in an existing text frame or create a new one.

Linking Tables

When you import tables, spreadsheets, and text files, you have the option to link to the original file. If any changes occur in the original file, you can update the link in InDesign (using the Links palette) and the table or text is automatically updated. This is similar to updating the link to a graphic file, which InDesign maintains automatically. If you want to do this, check Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheet Files in the Type panel in the Preferences dialog box before you import the table. Then check the Links palette to see if a table needs to be updated. See #58 for more information about managing links.

Linking to tables sounds great, right? How many times do writers and accountants make changes after you have formatted their text and tables? But linking is really not as great as it seems, because if you update the link between InDesign and the original file, any formatting you applied in InDesign is lost. And why would you be using InDesign if not to make the table look better? Use this feature only if you're not planning to make formatting changes to the tables in InDesign.

Importing Unformatted Tables

Just because you can import formatted tables and spreadsheets from Word and Excel doesn't mean that you should. Given the formatting limitations of the software involvedand the possible design limitations of the people involvedyou might just want to create and format the tables in InDesign. Generally, these programs and users are focused on more utilitarian purposes, such as making sure the numbers are all there and all correct. They are not likely to spend time making the tables attractive. You will probably end up reformatting all the text and the tables, and you may find that it's quicker and easier to just import unformatted text and convert it to tables. In a large project with many tables, you might want to experiment with a couple and decide how you want to handle them.

Adobe InDesign CS2 How-Tos(c) 100 Essential Techniques
Adobe InDesign CS2 How-Tos: 100 Essential Techniques
ISBN: 0321321901
EAN: 2147483647
Year: N/A
Pages: 142

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