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Quick Tip: Create an InDesign Table from an Excel File

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Read Time: 4 min

In this tutorial we are going to take a look at how to create a table from an Excel file using Table Styles. To spice things little bit up we will add a neat drop shadow effect to our table and also a nice background image. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.

Step 1

Create a new InDesign document. Set the Page Size to A4. Uncheck the Facing Pages box and use 3 mm Bleed.

Step 2

Import Excel document clicking on File > Place. Check the Show Import Options box and hit Open.

Now you are able to select the appropriate sheet and table cell range of data you want to import into the document. We are going to use the default settings as shown below:

Step 3

Now that we have our Excel table imported we can customize all colors, fonts and other things to fit our needs. Select Type Tool (T) and move your cursor at the top border of the table. The Type Tool cursor will change into small black vertical arrow that will allow you to select the first column and adjust it's width and height. Set the Column Width to 32 mm and Row Height to 6.5 mm. Also set Cell Inset values as shown below:

With the left table column still selected align text to the left. You can change the alignment of the text anytime you want by selecting the content using Type Tool (T) and clicking on the alignment options at the Control Panel:

Step 4

Using the same techniques as described above select the next six columns and adjust them with following settings:

Also don't forget to align text of the last two columns to the right excluding first row.

Step 5

Now we are going to adjust the Stroke Color of the table. Select the entire table with Type Tool (T) and click on the Stroke Color on the Swatches Panel. Set it to black with an 80% tint. Also change Stroke Weight to 0.5 pt.

Step 6

With the Type Tool (T) select the first row and right click on it. A contextual menu will appear enabling you to covert the selected row to a header row.

With the header row still selected change the Fill Color to C=100 M=80 Y=5 K=35

Step 7

Next create a new Table Style (Windows > Styles > Table Styles). Give your new Table Style a name.

On the sidebar in Table Style Options window go to Fills. In Alternating Pattern section select Every Other Row option. This will enable us to adjust fill color for each other table row. Set the First Rows Color to white and set the Skip First option to 1. This will skip coloring the first row of our table which is actually header and is already filled with dark blue. Set the Next Rows Color to black with a 20% tint.

Step 8

Next we will change fonts. This tutorial uses Helvetica Neue font but feel free to use any other font that fits your needs. Select only the first row and change the font to Helvetica Neue LT Pro Medium Extended Oblique. Set the Font Size to 10 pt and align the text vertically to the center of cells. Set the text Fill Color to white.

Also change text capitalization to All Caps clicking on the little right arrow on the Character Panel.

Step 9

Let's change font for other cells. Select entire cell content excluding header and using same steps as above change the font to Helvetica Neue LT Pro Roman. Set the font size to 10 pt and text Fill Color to black with 90% tint.

Step 10

Finally we can add a background image. Go to File > Place and import your desired background. Right click on the image and go to Arrange > Send to Back. This action will put the image behind the table.

Step 11

To create the shadow effect create a new white rectangle with Rectangle Tool (M) and using the Pen Tool (P) create curved bottom border.

Go to Objects > Effects > Drop Shadow and use the following settings to create a shadow effect on the white rectangle. Put the white rectangle directly under the table.


Viola! This is how your final document should look like after some tweaking and adding a custom title at the top of the document page.

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