FrameMaker Tutorial:
Tables

Developed for advanced documentation students by
David A. McMurrey Thomas A. Moore
Jacqueline J. Pulido ---

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 in tables with text, rearrange and resize rows and columns, and create custom formatting. Other tutorials focus on the basics, styles, templates, graphics, cross-references, book building, variable text and conversion techniques. 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. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know!

The tutorial's instructions are based on FrameMaker version 6.0 for Windows. You may encounter some minor differences if you are using another 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

The following sections will show you how to create this table.

Inserting a Table

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

  2. Open a new, blank portrait document (Press Ctrl + N and click Portrait).

  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. Every blank document includes two default formats, Format A and Format B. You can also create your own table formats. For now, let's use one of the default formats.

  5. In the Insert Table dialog box, select Format A. Enter 3 for Columns and 5 for Body Rows. Leave Heading Rows at 1 and Footing Rows at 0. The settings should look like this:

    Insert Table dialog box

  6. Click Insert. An anchor symbol Anchor Symbol appears at the table's insertion point. (If you don't see an anchor symbol, your text symbols may be hidden. Choose View > Text Symbols to display the symbols.)

    Format A includes a paragraph for a title above the table that includes an autonumber. The title and the other formats, such as ruling, are also included as part of table Format A. Your new table should look like this:

    example of a table

    Note: Double-clicking the anchor symbol selects the entire table, and pressing the Delete key deletes the entire table.

Filling in a Table

Now fill in the table with some text:
  1. Fill in the title. Click in the TableTitle paragraph to place the insertion point there and type Special Characters.

  2. Fill in the heading row. Click in the first heading cell to place the insertion point there, and type the words Character Name.

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

  4. Press Tab again to move to the last heading cell and type Shortcut. These three columns are your headings.

  5. Next fill in the text for the body rows. 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, type 0134, and then release the Alt key. 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 your table looks like this:

    example of a table

Rearranging Rows and Columns

Now that you have all of the text filled in, let's arrange the entries in alphabetical order. To 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 (press the Esc key, then press lower case letters t h r).

  3. Press Ctrl + 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. Your entries are now in alphabetical order.

Resizing Cells

Your table would look better if you made the first column wider so that the heading row 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 too wide. Let's make the column a little tighter around the cell's contents. Choose Table > Resize Columns again.

  6. Select To Width of Selected Cells' 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 (press the Esc key, then press lower case letters t h c).

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

    example of a table

  4. Click on the sizing handle and drag it about an inch to the right. Now the column is probably still too wide. Press Ctrl + Z to undo.

  5. Instead, let's make the entire table wider. 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. Or, press Esc t h t (press the Esc key, then press lower case letters t h t).

  6. Click on one of the sizing handles on the right side and drag it 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. In the Add Rows or Columns dialog box, 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

In some instances, you may need to join or merge two cells into one. This concept is known as straddling. To straddle table cells:
  1. First, fill in the new row with some text. 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 lower case q, then release. Then press and hold Shift while you press lower case q, then release.)

  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. Place the insertion point in the last row and press Ctrl + Enter. (This is another way to add a new row to a table.)

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

    example of a table

  6. Because there are two shortcuts for an em dash, we need to straddle two cells. Select the cell that contains the words em dash as well as the empty cell below it.

  7. Choose Table > Straddle.

  8. Follow Steps 6 and 7 to straddle the two cells in the Symbol column the same way. Your table should 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. Select the Table Cell tab.

  4. For Cell Vertical Alignment, select Middle using the pull-down list.

  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; an asterisk next to CellBody shows this particular paragraph has been altered. If we wanted to change all CellBody paragraphs, we would choose Update All.)

  6. Follow Steps 1 through 5 to align the em dash symbol the same way.

  7. Close the Paragraph Designer and 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.)

Note: We are working on understanding the function of the left and right options in the Table Cell tab of the Paragraph Designer.

Applying Custom Ruling

To customize the ruling in your table:

  1. Select the entire heading row (click in the heading row and press Esc t h r).

  2. Choose Table > Custom Ruling & Shading.

  3. From the Custom Ruling & Shading dialog box, select Thick from the Apply Ruling Style column.

  4. In the To Selection area, leave Bottom from the Outside Edge group checked (the checkmarks show which options are selected). Turn off Top, Left and Right from the Outside Edge group and Row and Column from the Inside Borders group. The setting should look like this:

    Custom Ruling

  5. 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 (click in the heading row and press Esc t h r).

  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 (a checkmark shows it's selected).

  4. Using the pull-down lists, select 100% for Fill and Blue for Color.

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

  6. Close the Custom Ruling & Shading dialog box.

Note: We are working on the problem of specifying gray as a table cell shading.

Using Paragraph Tags in a Table

Paragraph tags work the same way in table cells as they 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).

  3. Select the Default Font tab.

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

  5. Click Update All.

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

  7. Select Arial for Family and click Update All. (If you get a message about overrides, click Retain Overrides.)

  8. Place the insertion point in the TableTitle paragraph and select Arial for Family and click Update All.

  9. Some of the cells may need to be wider to accommodate the new font. Use one of the methods you learned to resize the cells.

  10. Close the Paragraph Designer and at look at your finished table:

    example of a table

Using the Table Designer

The custom ruling and shading that you 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 new table format:

  1. Double-click on the anchor symbol to select the entire table. (You may need to display the text symbols.)

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

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

  4. Click Apply.

  5. In the New Format dialog box, make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked and then click Create.

    You have now created a new table format which will be saved with this document along with Format A and Format B. Any changes you make in the Table Designer will be reflected in this table (and any other tables with My Format).

In this tutorial, you learned how to insert tables, fill in tables with text, 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.


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