How to Format Tables in iBooks Author

The tables you create in iBooks Author are very much like those you might create in a word processor or desktop publishing program, and most of the controls will be familiar, even if they reside in different arrangements than you’re used to. But iBooks Author does provide two types of controls uncommon in other programs. One is the ability to add formulas that do calculations based on the table’s data. The other is to format a cell conditionally based on its text’s characteristics.

When you add a document from Microsoft Word or Apple Pages as a new chapter in iBooks Author, most of the formatting in the document’s tables is preserved, including cell and table borders, shading, and text formatting, but not cell spacing. If you copy a spreadsheet selection into iBooks Author from Microsoft Excel, none of the formatting is retained, although iBooks Author does apply every-other-row shading to such tables. Spreadsheet selections copied from Apple Numbers do retain their formatting. And tables copied from other applications are copied as plain text, without their tabular arrangement.

To format a table (or refine its formatting) in iBooks Author, you use the Table inspector, which has two panes: Table and Format. You do most of the work in the Table pane.

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Most of the table-specific formatting controls reside in the Table inspector’s Table pane:

  • Body Rows and Body Columns: Use these fields and their stepper controls to specify the number of rows and columns for your table. Imported and pasted tables have these values already specified based on their contents.

  • Headers & Footers: Use the three icon menus in this section — Column, Header, and Footer — to add the specified number of header columns, header rows, and footer rows to the table. (These options are also available by choosing Format→Table and choosing from the submenu that appears.) You can add as many as five; to remove a header or footer, choose 0 (zero).

    If your table already has headers and/or footers, using these icon menus doesn’t place their contents in the new headers or footers; you need to cut and paste their text into the header and footers manually.

  • Borders: If you select the entire table (click its upper-left corner to make the selection handles appear for the whole table), you can click any of the Cell Borders icon buttons to apply those borders to the entire table.

  • Return Key Moves to Next Cell: If this option is selected and you’re working on a cell’s text, pressing Return moves the pointer to the next cell down and adds a row when you reach the bottom of the table. Otherwise, pressing Return adds a paragraph return within the cell.

You can specify a few table-wide settings elsewhere:

  • Set a single stroke size for all table borders in a selected table by using the Stroke options in the Graphic inspector.

  • Apply a caption and title to the table; you can also set attributes such as a background and drop shadow.

  • Apply a background fill to a table by selecting all its cells and using the Cell Background pop-up menu’s options; if you select the table (so that you see its selection handles), the Cell Background pop-up menu is unavailable.

After you format a table, you can copy its formatting to other tables by following these steps:

  1. Select the table whose style you want to copy.

  2. Choose Format→Copy Table Style.

    Alternatively, you can press Option+Command+C.

  3. Select the table to which you want to apply the first table’s style.

  4. Choose Format→Paste Style.

    Or you can press Option+Command+V.

You can also set a table’s formatting as the default for all future tables by selecting that table and then choosing Format→Advanced→Define Default Table Style, and you can apply that saved format to an existing table by selecting the table and then choosing Format→Reapply Defaults to Table.

You can also set a table’s formatting as the default for all future tables by selecting that table and then choosing Format→Advanced→Define Default Table Style, and you can apply that saved format to an existing table by selecting the table and then choosing Format→Reapply Defaults to Table.

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