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Include table alignment in "New Table" and ... 
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Joined: 2007-04-12 04:01:46
Posts: 767
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hello Martin

I am using tables a fair bit, but not creating new ones very often, mostly just copying existing tables to get new tables of the same type.

I suspect that for most people, creating tables is not a daily activity as most of regular word processing is, so the process doesn't become particularly familiar -- they have to go step-by-step, as I do, through the process, feeling their way a bit.

This means that it is imperative that the steps and the processes are crystal clear, otherwise the process becomes frustrating.

One thing I find is when I DO create a new table, I have "lost" the alignment function.

Looking at the various controls and stuff for creating new tables and messing about with them, I find the problem -- stuff that ought to be together conceptually, is not, and you have added a bit of confusion besides.


You have drawn essentially the same symbols for use in the Alignment part of the Table palette as you have for Merge Cells in the Table Cells palette.

A table does NOT look like the symbol you have in the Alignment palette, it looks like the symbols you have in the insert/delete part above it -- at least put 9 cells in there. In addition, can you make the boxes containing the symbols a bit wider so what's happening is a bit more obvious? Feel free to add an arrow or two!

The name of this function should be "Alignment on the Page" to distinguish it from the alignment of content in cells. As it stands, the graphic could be representing the alignment of graphical content within cells. Why not? There is nothing to indicate otherwise.


In the "New Table" dialog, we are making a new table and inserting it on the page. It is set to insert aligned centre. From where I sit, this is the worst alignment, because the moment you adjust a cell size, the table starts to expand both ways in what to me is a most odd and confusing manner.

What about adding the alignment on the page controls to the "New Table" so that when we create a new table, we set the alignment? And make the default left or right, matching the text direction of the document or paragraph?

"New Table" is external to the table in concept, it is adding an element to the page, so to me, it makes sense to set alignment, a function external to the table, at this point too.


Alignment on the page, an "external" function, is here, sandwiched between and separating two functions, adding or deleting/removing rows or columns, which are internal to the table in concept.

It is in the wrong place!

May I make a suggestion? To my mind, the "Table" palette should incorporate "Make New Table" and the five elements it would then have should be arranged (top to bottom):

New Table (Okay/Cancel)
Alignment on Page: L C R
Insert/Delete rows column

As occurs at present, the items would be context sensitive. When the cursor is in a blank line on the page, the "New Table" should be activated along with Alignment on Page, Style, Rows, Columns. Insert/Delete would be de-activated.

When a Table was selected, New Table and Style would be de-activated, while Alignment on Page, Rows, Columns would be activated.

When one or more cells, rows or columns (but NOT the entire table) were selected, the insert/delete rows/columns would be activated. (Currently, this tool is activated when the whole table is selected -- I think it should NOT be, because you can delete your whole table.)

The Delete/Insert rows/columns tool could well go into the "Table Cells" palette. Conceptually, it is a toss-up; practically, it would fit with such tools as Merge Cells, Split Cells, shrink the table to fit the contents, expand it to fit the whole page and so on.

I can see how it fits with adding columns or rows by numbers, but to my mind, that is changing the whole table, whereas Insert/Delete rows/columns is to do with a bunch of cells rather than the whole table. No, I certainly don't want to try to argue the logic of this! :)


Why cannot a table be aligned within the page using the regular paragraph alignments? They are used for text, they are used for graphics, why not for tables?

Left, centred, right are there -- and Justified could become "full page width" when a table was selected or probably more safely, de-activated

BUT if this were possible -- and it should be -- I would favour keeping an alignment on the page function in the Table palette and in the New Table dialog.

Any thoughts from others?

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at

2007-10-05 15:34:32
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Joined: 2004-11-10 07:31:31
Posts: 173
greenmorpher wrote:

In the "New Table" dialog, we are making a new table and inserting it on the page. It is set to insert aligned centre. From where I sit, this is the worst alignment, because the moment you adjust a cell size, the table starts to expand both ways in what to me is a most odd and confusing manner.

Agreed. Whenever I create a table, the first thing I do is set the alignment to left, for the same reasons Greenmorpher lists.

2007-10-05 23:43:26

Joined: 2006-12-08 00:46:44
Posts: 417
Location: London or Exeter, UK
Wow ... there I've been, cursing and swearing for months because docs that I get from colleagues created in various flavours of Chinese Weird for Windo$e come with tables that are randomly aligned outside the left margin of the page, so I have to use NeoWriter if I'm to see what's in the leftmost column ...

(For the fans of Pages, Pages 3 displayed all tables in those documents as single, centred columns of centred text with no borders, though I think the latest update may have solved that!)

And all the time, the answer was there and I never spotted it, and I never noticed an entry to that effect in the release notes ... there are buttons to set the alignment on the page. I have spent hours trying to work out how to do it through the normal paragraph justification commands, 'cos that's how things used to work in my memory! Grrreeeaaattt ... I can now do it all in NWP ... thank you Nisus ...

And thank you Greenmorpher for this thread which brought it to my notice. On that score, I think I have to agree with the rest of your post. Although your other points had never struck me and I have been using the different palettes happily without problem — in fact I do tend to produce quite a lot of tables, and no colleague has ever commented that they were garbled when opened on a PC — the fact that my eye has consistently skipped over these buttons suggests that more thought could be given to the interface design for tables.

And yes, the Table drawer should have "Create New Table" available. It is mildly irksome to have to go to the menu when I'm going to do everything else through the palettes in the drawer.


2007-10-08 04:50:32
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