FrameMaker Tutorial:
Tables

Developed for Advanced Documentation Students
by
David A. McMurrey
and
Thomas A. Moore

See the FrameMaker resource page for additional study materials. Got a question about this tutorial? Post it in the FrameMaker FAQ

The following FrameMaker tutorial shows you how to insert tables, fill them in with content, rearrange and resize rows and columns, and add custom formatting. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know! These tutorials only get you started; if you have more in-depth needs, see the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide or Adobe FrameMaker Classroom in a Book. (This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy.)

This tutorial is based on FrameMaker version 5.5 for Windows. You may see some minor differences if you are using a different version.

Note: For the sake of brevity, we use an abbreviated style for menu commands throughout this lesson. For example, "Choose File > New" means "Choose New from the File menu".

About Tables

Tables are useful for making information easy to find and understand. Tables are generally better at illustrating comparisons among similar data, while graphs are good at illustrating overall trends. A table usually consists of a heading row and one or more body rows. It may also have a title.
example of a table

Inserting a Table

You can insert a table anywhere except in a footnote. To insert a new, empty table:
  1. Start FrameMaker.

  2. Open a new, blank portrait document.

  3. Type This is an example of a table: and press Enter.

  4. Choose Table > Insert Table. When you insert a new table, you select a table format from the Insert Table dialog box. These table formats are stored in a catalog, just like character or paragraph formats. A blank document includes two default formats, Format A and Format B; however, you can also create your own.

  5. Select Format A. Enter 3 for Columns and 5 for Body Rows. Leave Heading Rows at 1 and Footing Rows at 0.

  6. Click Insert. An anchor symbol appears at the insertion point. Selecting the anchor symbol selects the entire table, and deleting the anchor symbol deletes the entire table. (If you don't see an anchor symbol, your text symbols may be hidden. Choose View > Text Symbols to show them.) There is also a paragraph for a title above the table which includes an autonumber. The title and the other formats, such as ruling, are included as part of table Format A. Your new table should look like this:

    example of a table

Filling in a Table

Now fill in the table with some text:
  1. Place the insertion point in the Table Title paragraph and type Special Characters.

  2. Now click in the first cell to place the insertion point there, and type the words Character Name.

  3. Press the Tab key to move to the next cell, and type Symbol.

  4. Move to the next cell and type Shortcut. These three columns are your headings.

  5. Press Tab to move to the first cell in the first body row. Type the word Dagger.

  6. Press Tab again. Hold down the Alt key and type 0134. A dagger symbol should appear at the insertion point. If not, try again. Be sure to hold down Alt while you are typing 0134. Use the numeric keypad if your keyboard has one.

  7. Press Tab and type Alt + 0134.

  8. Now fill in the rest of the cells so that they look like this:

    example of a table

Rearranging Rows and Columns

Now that we have all of our text filled in, we probably want our entries in alphabetical order. Let's move the row for Dagger so that it is between Circumflex and Ellipsis:

  1. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the word Dagger.

  2. Click and drag to the right until the entire row is selected. (Or, press Esc t h r.)

  3. Press Crtl + X to cut the selected cells from the table.

  4. In the Cut Table Cells dialog box, select Remove Cells from Table, and click Cut.

  5. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the word Circumflex.

  6. Press Ctrl + V to paste the cells back into the table.

  7. In the Paste Rows dialog box, select Insert Below Current Rows and click Paste. Our entries are now in alphabetical order.

Resizing Cells

Our table would probably look better if we made the first column a little bit wider so that the text doesn't have to wrap around to a second line:

  1. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the words Character Name.

  2. Choose Table > Resize Columns.

  3. Select To Width and type 2.0.

  4. Click Resize.

  5. Now the column is probably a little too wide. Let's make it a little tighter around the cell's contents. Choose Table > Resize Columns again.

  6. Select To Width of Selected Cell's Contents and click Resize.

Resizing Columns by Dragging

Another way to resize columns is to select a column and drag it to the new width:

  1. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the words Character Name.

  2. Click and drag downward until the entire column is selected. (Or, press Esc t h c.)

  3. Move the cursor over one of the sizing handles until it turns into an arrow, as shown in the figure below.

    example of a table

  4. Click and drag about an inch to the right. Now the column is probably a little too wide. Press Ctrl + Z to undo. Instead, let's make the entire table wider.

  5. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the words Character Name. Click and drag down and to the right until the entire table is selected.

  6. Grab one of the sizing handles on the right side and drag about an inch to the right to resize the entire table proportionally.

Adding Rows to a Table

If your table needs to grow, it's easy to add rows or columns:
  1. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the word oe ligature.

  2. Choose Table > Add Rows or Columns.

  3. Select Add 1 Row and change Above Selection to Below Selection using the pull-down list.

  4. Click Add. A new row is added to the end of the table.

Straddling Cells

To straddle table cells:
  1. In the first column of the new row, type the words em dash.

  2. Press Tab, and then Ctrl + q, Shift + q. An em dash should appear at the insertion point. (Press and hold Ctrl while you press q, then release. Then press and hold Shift while you press q.)

  3. Now press Tab to move to the next cell and type Ctrl + q, Shift + q. If the cell is not wide enough to hold this text on one line, make the cell wider.

  4. Press Ctrl + Enter. (This is another way to add a new row to a table.)

  5. Press Tab twice and type Alt + 0151. Your table should now look like this:

    example of a table

  6. Because there are two shortcuts for an em dash, we will need to straddle two cells, which means joining two cells into one. This is also known as merging.

  7. Select the cell that contains the words em dash as well as the cell below it.

  8. Choose Table > Straddle.

  9. Now straddle the two cells in the Symbol column to match. Your table should now look something like this:

    example of a table

    Note: You can straddle cells horizontally in the same manner.

Aligning Text within a Cell

Now, align the text so that it is centered vertically in the straddled cells:

  1. Place the insertion point in the cell that contains the words em dash.

  2. Open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M).

  3. Go to the Table Cell page.

  4. For Cell Vertical Alignment, select Middle.

  5. Click Apply. (We don't want every paragraph tagged CellBody to be aligned this way, just this particular one. This is called an override. If we wanted to change all CellBody paragraphs, we would choose Update All.)

  6. Now, align the em dash symbol the same way.

  7. Hide the borders and text symbols to get a better idea of what your table will look like on the page. (Choose View > Borders and View > Text Symbols.)

Applying Custom Ruling

Now, customize the ruling in the table:

  1. Select the entire heading row.

  2. Choose Table > Custom Ruling & Shading.

  3. Select Thick from the Apply Ruling Style column.

  4. Select Bottom from the Outside Edge group and click Apply. The table now has a thick line instead of a double line to separate the heading rows from the body rows.

Applying Custom Shading

You can also customize the shading in the table:

  1. Select the entire heading row.

  2. Choose Table > Custom Ruling & Shading to open the Custom Ruling and Shading dialog box, if it is not open already.

  3. Select the Custom Cell Shading option.

  4. Select 100% for Fill and Blue for Color.

  5. Click Apply. The heading row now has a blue shade.

Using Paragraph Tags in a Table

Paragraph tags work the same way in table cells as the do anywhere else in a FrameMaker document. Modify the tags in your table to use a sans-serif font with a different color:

  1. Place the insertion point in any one of the heading cells.

  2. Open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M) and go to the Default Font page.

  3. Select Arial for Family, Bold for Weight, and White for Color.

  4. Click Update All.

  5. Place the insertion point in any one of the body cells.

  6. Change the font to Arial and click Update All. (If you get a message about overrrides, click Retain Overrides.)

  7. Now make the TableTitle paragraph tag Arial as well.

  8. If any of your cells need to be wider to accomodate the new font, do so now.

    And now a look at the finished product:

    example of a table

Using the Table Designer

The custom ruling and shading that we added in the previous sections affect this table only. To create tables with a consistent look throughout a document, use the Table Designer to create a table format:

  1. Select the anchor symbol to highlight the entire table. (You may need to show text symbols.)

  2. Open the Table Designer (Ctrl + T).

  3. In the Table Tag text box, type My Format.

  4. Click Apply, then Create. You have now created a new table format which will be saved with this document along with Format A and Format B. The changes you make in the Table Designer will be reflected in this table (and any others with My Format).

In this tutorial, you learned how to insert tables, fill them in with content, rearrange and resize rows and columns, and add custom formatting. Experiment with the options in the Table Designer and create a new table format of your own.

If you've completed this tutorial and are taking an online course in print documentation, go to the FrameMaker workshop area of the Print Documentation Chatroom and let the rest of the class know how you did on this tutorial.


Information and programs provided by hcexres@prismnet.com.