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Author Topic: Word 2007: Are Table Styles safe to use now?  (Read 9359 times)
superboyac
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« on: May 26, 2010, 01:01:00 PM »

In all the MVPS articles, they say the table styles are unstable.  Actually, they say tables are generally unstable.  They recommend using autotext.  My question is, does this also apply to Word 2007?  Please let me know.
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katykaty
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2010, 01:23:43 PM »

Never noticed any issues with either table styles or tables themselves in any version going from 2000 to 2010 (including 2007).

And I'm intrigued to know how you'd use autotext to simulate a table style too Wink
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daddydave
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2010, 01:30:15 PM »

And I'm intrigued to know how you'd use autotext to simulate a table style too

Me too. As far as I know, autotext just inserts the same elements that you could insert anyway. Perhaps you mean text boxes?

And what is meant by tables (EDIT: I mean table styles) being unstable? Does they crash Word? Can you link to a specific article?

EDIT 2: Or are they just saying not to use tables for page layout, as a design preference?
« Last Edit: May 26, 2010, 01:46:10 PM by daddydave » Logged
superboyac
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2010, 02:47:41 PM »

http://word.mvps.org/mac/...d/bendwordtoyourwill.html
There's also John Mcghie's famous templates.  They both say how tables are bad, unstable, and highly recommended to avoid.  Apparently, they often lead to corrupted documents.

here's an exceprt:
Quote
The things to avoid with tables because they lead to instability, according to experts on the MacWord MVP newsgroup, include the following:
•   tables within tables;
•   merging or splitting table cells;
•   dragging text between cells (“you will still end up with a corrupt document if you do too much of this; it’s OK if you are sure that you only have text selected, but if you make a mistake and select a cell, there’s trouble ahead”);
•   dragging individual cells (but “it’s OK to drag rows or columns around”);
•   cutting and pasting in tables (“it will do it, but table corruption is likely to result sooner or later — although cutting and pasting or dragging and dropping whole rows is usually OK”).
Further, the more of the following you use, and the more often in a document, the less stable things become: text wrapping, automatically resize to fit contents, allow rows to break across pages, and nested tables.
One expert said that “if you do it properly, Word will handle a table of about 160 pages [without trouble]”. One tip he gave to speed things up and minimise problems while working on such a document was to choose Table menu » Split table (every few pages — no more than five) while editing, then when finishing the document remove the splits so the table re-joins itself.
To remove corruption in tables (revealed by slowness of actions, caused by the need to use huge amounts of memory), select each table and use Table » Convert » Table to Text to turn the table into tabbed text, then without moving the selection use Table » Convert » Text to Table to convert it back to a table again. If that does not work, the document may be corrupt: see page 129.
If a document has tables extending over more than a few pages and is slow, select each table in turn and for each table go to Table menu » Insert » Table and de-select “Auto fit to contents” if it’s selected. (Even if the tables don’t extend this far, turning off this characteristic will speed up Word when you work on the document: it no longer has to re-calculate and re-draw the table every time you type a character.)
If you don’t want text in a cell to break (i.e., some lines to carry over to the next page) select the whole table from the left margin and choose Table menu » Table properties » “Row” » de-select “Allow rows to break across pages”. A macro for a button to achieve this is in Appendix D: Making buttons for formatting shortcuts.
It’s useful to know that “Keep lines together” and “Widow/orphan control” have no effect in table cells if “Allow rows to break across pages” is enabled, and “Keep with next” applies only between rows, not between paragraphs in a single row. In general, it’s best not to apply these settings in tables, because they can prevent pages from breaking.
Good advice on table break problems is in http://word.mvps.org/FAQs...ControlPgBrksInTables.htm
 If you are using Safari, you will have to click on the circular arrow (“reload the current page”) button a couple of times.
To put a table on the same line with text, put your insertion point in the table and choose Table menu » Table Properties » Table. Then under Text Wrapping, click the button titled Around. For more information, see the article with the heading “Text-wrapped tables and frames” at http://word.mvps.org/faqs...lsfldsfms/TableBasics.htm (you may have to hit the circular Refresh button a few times if you use Safari).
You may find that a wristwatch icon appears when you work in tables in Word 2001; it did in mine, all the time. Despite having allocated 80 MB of RAM (out of 512 MB of physical RAM), there was nothing I could do about it. Many other people have found the same thing. I lived with it until I moved to Word 2004.

I never use “Table Style” 
I agree with John McGhie when he warns people very strongly never to use Table Styles. They create a number of problems, the worst of which is that there may be no "good" way to remove a formatting defect once it has been applied, short of converting the table to text and back to a table again in another style. John's says:
The person who designed table styles in Word completely misunderstood the use-case. What we got was an object that is a single "style" that attempts to format the text and borders of a table as a single style. Utterly useless. …
A Table Style is applied as a single “collection” of formatting: you either have a table style applied to a table or you have a different table style applied to the table. Once you have used a table style on a table, you can't remove it.
You can, however, modify the Table Style, and add the Table Style to the template, then Update Styles in all the other documents to flow the change through. For example, you could modify the paragraph properties of the heading and body rows of the table style you are using, to give yourself more space above or below the text.
Table Styles are a mess: they're the exact opposite of what we need.
I avoid all this by applying styles based on body text (my “bt” style), which I titled “table text,tt” and “table heading,th”. Their characteristics are described in Appendix B: Specifications for some of my styles — especially to reduce the chances of changed appearance on other computers, starting on page 172.
In practice I rarely think about these problems because I almost invariably insert a table already pre-formatted the way I prefer, via a three-letter AutoText entry as shown on page 124. And it’s so simple that way.
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daddydave
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2010, 03:40:22 PM »

Very interesting. Well obviously they've put more thought into it than I have. I guess they would still say the same today, most of the Office MVPs are pretty good at staying up-to-date.
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superboyac
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2010, 04:38:31 PM »

Very interesting. Well obviously they've put more thought into it than I have. I guess they would still say the same today, most of the Office MVPs are pretty good at staying up-to-date.
yeah, but all their official documents that everyone references were written years ago.  So I'm wondering if things have changed, because there are a lot of significant changes in word 2007.
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superboyac
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2010, 05:37:55 PM »

Holy crap:
Do Not Use Tables!!

I just did a table, and it completely fucked up my manual I've been writing.  It crashed word, then it said it was recovering.  Then the recovery file didn't have a lot of my latest changes, including all the table stuff I did.  If not for Autover (thanks 40hz!) I would be losing it right about now.  Microsoft needs to fix this pronto.  you can't let this go version after version.  That is bullshit.  Tables are a fundamental feature of Word.
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superboyac
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2010, 05:39:28 PM »

Question:
would it be better to make the table in Excel and link it inside Word?
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« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2010, 05:56:27 PM »

Holy crap:
Do Not Use Tables!!

interesting, but what did you do?  Was it a massive table? did it have some sort of complex styling going on?

the quotes were interesting reading, but i have to wonder how serious an issue this actually is.  Tables have always been interesting (testing?) to work with, but this is the first I've heard of this 'undocumented feature'.

I would probably avoid embedding an excel sheet in your doc unless you really need it (personally, i don't like embedded things in docs at all).  While it may be simple Excel has it own 'quirks', and you probably won't have access to some of the 'niceties' that are available in word
 
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steeladept
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« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2010, 07:33:13 PM »

I have to ask why Tables are so "fundamental"?  One thing that annoys me to no end, as an IT guy AND a printer, is people using the wrong tool for the job just because they are comfortable in that environment.  Now I know you are willing to stretch, but many are not.  TABLES ARE BAD,BAD,BAD! (In Word).  Word is meant to be a word processor, not a spreadsheet.  If you are just formatting a report, that is one thing, that is what tab stops are for, but if you want form filled tables, then it is really the wrong tool.  Microsoft adds these features because of requests, but that doesn't mean they SHOULD be added.  Excel is designed around tables and should be used for that purpose.  I only miss the Binder tool Microsoft used to have that allowed you to combine pages from tools like Word and Excel into a single manuscript.</rant>

Now back to the original program....

Why would you need tables in your Word document?
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Target
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« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2010, 08:23:50 PM »

I have to ask why Tables are so "fundamental"?  One thing that annoys me to no end, as an IT guy AND a printer, is people using the wrong tool for the job just because they are comfortable in that environment.  Now I know you are willing to stretch, but many are not.  TABLES ARE BAD,BAD,BAD! (In Word).  Word is meant to be a word processor, not a spreadsheet.  If you are just formatting a report, that is one thing, that is what tab stops are for, but if you want form filled tables, then it is really the wrong tool.  Microsoft adds these features because of requests, but that doesn't mean they SHOULD be added.  Excel is designed around tables and should be used for that purpose.  I only miss the Binder tool Microsoft used to have that allowed you to combine pages from tools like Word and Excel into a single manuscript.</rant>

Now back to the original program....

Why would you need tables in your Word document?

interesting, but what makes them so bad?

I have no qualifications here, I'm just an interested observer, but I'm not aware of any reason not use tables in a document (aside from the potential stability issues referred to above).

Tables are a well understood means of segregating and organising content, and most people will find them logical/natural to read.  They are not spreadsheets (I suspect anyone trying to use one like that will work that out pretty quickly)

Provided they are used sensibly and in context they're a useful tool (same as tabs, and bulleting, and, and, and...)

FYI, the OP is producing a large procedural document, so I don't believe there is any form filling involved
 

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AndyM
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« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2010, 10:03:04 PM »

Why would you need tables in your Word document?
among other reasons, easiest way to do certain kinds of underlining.  also handy for forms, both printed and fill-in-the-blanks.  Unless you are using VBA to do forms in Excel (powerful but much more to learn), Word is much handier for fill in the blank stuff.  Without using tables it's almost impossible to keep variable length fields from changing your line-length and therefore your pagination.

Word tables can be handy for entering data or for composing/designing when you know you will have some kind of row/column setup but not sure what the final layout will be.  The kind of thing I have in mind would be tedious using tabs (which most definitely have their place - tables aren't always the best tool).

Generally it's easier to line things up with a table than with tabs.  Except when it's not.

(Word 2002)  I've always found Table Styles to be useless, so I've never used them enough to cause the formatting problems cited in the excerpt from superboyac's post.

As far as the other things it says not to do because they lead to instability,  I've already learned not to do them, but not due to instability problems.  Some of the things he talks about (tables within tables, merging or splitting cells) I don't do because they don't turn out to be useful, don't work well enough to be useful, or make things tougher (eg merged cells make selecting rows/columns and a few other things difficult).

I've never had instability problems using tables, but my tables are seldom complicated, and rarely more than a few pages. 

If you are talking about a generic table (rows and columns), sometimes Word is better, sometimes Excel is better.  Word is usually much better if there's much text and fancy formatting, Excel if the numeric formulas are anything more than really simple (try copying a calculated field formula with cell references down a column in Word).

If I'm importing rows and columns of data that I'm ultimately going to put in Word, sometimes it's easier to first import the data into Excel, do some massaging/formatting and then copy it to Word where it automatically turns into a table, and then finish the massaging and formatting.  This is because some things are easier in Excel than Word and the reverse.

Holy crap:
Do Not Use Tables!!

interesting, but what did you do?  Was it a massive table? did it have some sort of complex styling going on?

Yeah, what did you do?  Wink

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superboyac
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« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2010, 10:37:37 PM »

Quote
If I'm importing rows and columns of data that I'm ultimately going to put in Word, sometimes it's easier to first import the data into Excel, do some massaging/formatting and then copy it to Word where it automatically turns into a table, and then finish the massaging and formatting.  This is because some things are easier in Excel than Word and the reverse.
Yes, i may have to do this, it sounds easier.  I'm trying to make a glossary.  Nothing fancy, but there is formatting involved.  two columns, bold words, normal definitions, headers are formatted.  But there are a lot of items.  I already have all the words and definitions in InfoQube, so I want an easy way to bring it into Word.  So when I did at first, I copied and pasted, then adjusted some stuff, removed some rows, appleid some styles.  That's when it all broke.  So now, I'm going to try the Excel method.
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« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2010, 05:45:47 AM »

... If you are just formatting a report, that is one thing, that is what tab stops are for, ...

Since my answer would be formatting "things" I'm very interested in how tabstops can be used to create a multi-column  (say 10) table.  How is this done?
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AndyM
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2010, 09:57:15 AM »

You set the nine tabstops (for ten columns) for the first row at the top (the ruler thing), or set them in the tab settings dialog, spaced the way you want.

You enter data across, inserting a tab to jump to the next column.  When you get to the end of the row, you hit enter, which ends the single-line paragraph and starts a new paragraph with the identical tabstops already there.  Enter the next row.

If you already have some kind of delimited data, you replace the delimiters with tabs if necessary and paste the data instead of typing it in.

Since each line is a paragraph (it's handy to show the formatting marks - ShowAll, the pilcrow symbol - to see the tabs and the endparagraph marks), you set the space before/after each line to zero in Paragraph settings.

There are several different types of tabstops (right/left aligned, center, decimal).  Btw, the way to make things line up by decimal in a table is to use decimal tabstops.

You can create a style from your 10-column paragraph, and any time you apply it to a line with 9 tabs it will look the same.
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superboyac
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2010, 11:27:19 AM »

That's interesting, Andy.  i would have never thought of that.

I'm thinking of doing all of the formatting in Excel, and then bringing it directly into Word with copy/paste normal.  That seems to be working pretty well, even though all Shauna Kelly prefers pasting the chart in as a picture instead.  The problem with that is the table is pretty long (spans 5-6 pages).
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« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2010, 01:38:49 PM »

Thank you for making my point on the tabstops, AndyM.  I would have to say, though, much of the reasons provided for Word being "easier" is because of lack of knowledge (in many cases anyway).  Specifically you state:

among other reasons, easiest way to do certain kinds of underlining.  also handy for forms, both printed and fill-in-the-blanks.  Unless you are using VBA to do forms in Excel (powerful but much more to learn), Word is much handier for fill in the blank stuff.  Without using tables it's almost impossible to keep variable length fields from changing your line-length and therefore your pagination.

I can understand the underlining thing, though I feel there has got to be better ways to do this (I never had an issue with the way Word works here, however, so I have never needed to try).  As for forms, I have, without exception, found Excel to be easier and much better at building forms (though a dedicated form builder is even nicer).  The only catch is making sure you size your cells correctly, but that is easier to do than you might think, you just type everything out and merge cells as needed.  You end up with an Excel file that has probably something like 40 columns on one 8.5x11 page, each only a few pixels wide, but it works well and you automatically avoid the variable length field problem you mention.

Word tables can be handy for entering data or for composing/designing when you know you will have some kind of row/column setup but not sure what the final layout will be.  The kind of thing I have in mind would be tedious using tabs (which most definitely have their place - tables aren't always the best tool).

Word was never designed for final layout inline with composition anyway, so this really is something of a non-issue.  If you create the data, then apply formatting, you are following the workflow Word was designed for.  If you are creating the layout and then filling in the content, tables are much more efficient, and that is the way Excel is designed and should be used - hence my statement about using the correct tool for the job.

Generally it's easier to line things up with a table than with tabs.  Except when it's not.

Well stated.  Wink

As for the rest of what you are saying, I guess I can agree with it since it is rather subjective anyway.  (What is easier to you is not necessarily easier for others).  I never really got heavy into formatting anything other than the text itself, and that is equally easy in Excel as it is in Word.  I can imagine a situation where you want certain text flowing around a picture so, I guess there are some limited uses for it - and even with everything I stated, I have used small, simple tables in Word (Very small mind you, 3x4 at the largest).  It is just so many people use Word when they should use Excel and Excel when they should use Access.  Excel is not a database, even if it has some of that functionality, just like Word is not a spreadsheet even though it can contain tables. 

Now getting back to the OP issue -

I'm trying to make a glossary.  Nothing fancy, but there is formatting involved.  two columns, bold words, normal definitions, headers are formatted.  But there are a lot of items. 

If this is all you are looking for, just make the glossary in a single column as normal.  Apply all your text formating next.  Then highlight it all and make it two column.  The only thing left is to make the headers which should be (oddly enough) in the page header.  Word is made for this type of thing without resorting to tables or any special styling.
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steeladept
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« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2010, 01:46:16 PM »


interesting, but what makes them so bad?


Tables are not bad at all, it is using tables in Word instead of using the right tool.  You stated that tables are not spreadsheets, and this is true, but spreadsheets are tables.  Nothing but tables.  If most of your work is in a table, why would you use a word processor to make them?

You hit the nail on the head when you said "used sensibly".  The problem is most people do not use them sensibly in Word.  They know Word, they know they can insert a table, so they insert table upon table into document upon document when it would be much simpler, quicker, and easier for all involved if it was an Excel file.

The reason this is so poignant to me is, as a printer, I end up having to fix all these documents all the time, just to get them to print right.  Because these are internal customers, I can't charge back my time, but I do get dinged for not producing.  Simple changes such as using the right tool would allow me to be more productive, the requester to be more productive, and produce a more manageable, effective document.   
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« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2010, 03:23:09 PM »

I just have to chime in with emphatic agreement on: Use the right tool for the job! Tables (and text boxes) in particular have been hugely problematic for me with Word. Huge tables created in Word when they should have been done in Excel. And text boxes used when they just shouldn't have been used at all (to accomplish things like aligning text properly, because the person doesn't know how to use tab stops!).

So yeah, it's a big problem when people get focused on just 1 tool and use it for all their problems.

- Oshyan
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superboyac
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« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2010, 04:29:04 PM »

I just have to chime in with emphatic agreement on: Use the right tool for the job! Tables (and text boxes) in particular have been hugely problematic for me with Word. Huge tables created in Word when they should have been done in Excel. And text boxes used when they just shouldn't have been used at all (to accomplish things like aligning text properly, because the person doesn't know how to use tab stops!).

So yeah, it's a big problem when people get focused on just 1 tool and use it for all their problems.

- Oshyan
So, what would you do if you already had a long glossary completed in another program (i.e. InfoQube) and you wanted to stick that information into a Word document?  That's what I'm doing.  Before I can stick it in, I have to massage IQ's output a little (headers, formatting, etc.)  So what I'm doing now is doing that all in Excel, and copy/paste it into Word.

I'm not sure how effective these tabs stops would be for the same thing.  Please advise, thanks.
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« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2010, 04:31:22 PM »

I guess I'm not clear on how you want to format your glossary visually (nor on what the data looks like already in IQ). But likely I'd bring it into Excel and then just export as tab-separated data, load it into Word and then adjust the tabs as needed. That should neatly turn spreadsheet columns into adjustable tabs...

- Oshyan
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« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2010, 05:54:52 PM »

So, what would you do if you already had a long glossary completed in another program (i.e. InfoQube) and you wanted to stick that information into a Word document?  That's what I'm doing.  Before I can stick it in, I have to massage IQ's output a little (headers, formatting, etc.)  So what I'm doing now is doing that all in Excel, and copy/paste it into Word.

since your formatting requirements are minimal here (if i remember rightly you mentioned plain text, left column bold) I'd probably try pasting without any formatting (forgive me if I'm teaching you to suck eggs here).

that ties in with one of the suggestions from the MVP quote, and it's easy to apply that level of formatting uniformly to the whole table
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superboyac
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« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2010, 06:09:19 PM »

Here's an example of what I'd like the glossary to look like.  This is done in excel:
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« Reply #23 on: May 27, 2010, 08:17:09 PM »

Sorry to jump in, but isn't that exactly what the InfoQube built-in HTML export (settings mode) gives you ?
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superboyac
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« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2010, 08:46:32 PM »

Sorry to jump in, but isn't that exactly what the InfoQube built-in HTML export (settings mode) gives you ?
I have used the html export feature, but is that the "best" way of putting it into a Word document?  I make a point of this, because this is the first time I'm using Word the "right" way with styles, templates, fields, etc.  If I use the html export from IQ, how does that integrate with the styles I've set up in my document?

All the MVPs are very strict about what they do and don't do with Word.  I haven't heard anyone say anything about bringing in html, that's why I don't know.  But they have very strong opinions about the proper way to use (or not use) tables.
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