A fable of an unstable table

A client using InDesign CS4 wanted to create callout panels which would expand as type was entered. In CS6 that is possible using persistent text frame fitting options, but in CS4 an alternative was required. My solution was to create a table with two rows and one column: the first row to contain the headline of the callout panel, and the second row to contain the type which would increase in size as type was entered.

This was working well… until several issues became apparent:

1)   Maximum Height of a table cell.

The client complained that no matter how he tried, he could not get the cell height to be any larger than 211.667mm. Upon attempting to replicate the fault, I was amazed that this was indeed confirmed. Initially, finding a way to make cells any deeper than this measurement was difficult.

Perhaps I should have Googled the term first. The solution was fairly simple – select the table cell and then change the maximum height option.

During the attempt to replicate the fault, I found another issue:

2)   Unable to use the “Fill with Placeholder Text” in a table cell.

Upon receiving the client’s email concerning the first issue, I tried to replicate the fault using InDesign’s standard placeholder text, only to learn that the “Fill with Placeholder Text” is not a selectable option when working with a table cell.

The workaround is simple enough – make a new textbox, Fill with Placeholder Text, select all the text, cut the text and then paste the text into the cell.

The client’s third issue was also unexepected:

3)   Floating objects set to text wrap will not wrap around text in a table cell.

Once again, the client complained that objects which had a text wrap applied would not wrap around text within the table. Again, I was able to replicate the fault perfectly.

I did however have a workaround – the picture would indeed wrap the text within a table if it was an anchored object within the cell of the table, provided the anchor was one line above the type it had to wrap. To make the top line look as if it had not moved, I highlighted the first line and gave it a leading of 0.

So while the issues were able to be resolved, the solution was not the turnkey solution that I had informed the client would be ideal. What can I say – the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray!

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