Tabbed Text Into Tables

There’s a great new productivity feature in InDesign CS3 that you may not have heard about. In InDesign CS3 you can now copy and paste tabbed text across a selection of table cells.

For example, suppose you have last issue’s finished, formatted table:

and now I have this month’s updated content. The formatting of the table remains the same, I just need to replace the text in some of the cells.

One way to do this in CS3 is to link to an external Excel spreadsheet that you import into InDesign and update the link. If you’ve formatted your table using InDesign CS3’s table styles, you’ll retain most of your formatting.

But suppose you don’t have a new spreadsheet. Suppose what you’re handed for the new issue is some tab-delimited text that came from who-knows-where:

All you need to do to replace the content in the old table with your new tab delimited content is copy the tabbed text to the clipboard, select the range of cells to be updated, and then paste into the table using the Paste Without Formatting command (cmd/ctrl + shift + V). By using this command, the text will adopt the formatting of the table cells into which you are pasting it.

The ability to intelligently paste tabbed text into an existing table is a great new productivity feature that can save you a ton of time if you’re regularly updating table data.