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  1. #1
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    Word 2010 table styles... again

    Once more, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the way Word manages the properties of text in a table.

    I've got a table with a table style I've defined (I'll call it TEE) with the following properties:

    Whole table > Font > Font:Arial, Font style:Regular, Size:none
    Whole table > Paragraph > Before:4pt, After:3pt, Line spacing:Single
    Header row > Font > Font:Arial, Font style:Bold, Size:none
    Header row > Paragraph > Before:4pt, After:3pt, Line spacing:single
    First column > Font > Font:Courer New, Font style:Regular, Size:none
    First column > Paragraph > Before:4pt, After:3pt, Line spacing:single

    The table's fonts come out the way I expect. Both cells in the first row obey the "Header Row" definition. The rest of the first column obeys the "first column" definition, and the rest of the second column obeys the "Whole table" definition.

    The paragraph properties are totally crazy. I expected them to conform to the corresponding properties in the definition of TEE. Instead they're Before:19.2pt, After:3pt, Line spacing:At least 13.65pt. As far as I can see, these properties doesn't match the setting of any style in the document!

    I understood that the cells in a newly created table would be assigned the style Normal. That appears to be true, because the Normal style's font overrides TEE's fonts when I change it from +Body to a specific font. But Normal's paragraph styles don't override the table according to any consistent set of rules that I can identify. And when I explicitly assign the Normal style to a table cell its properties change, which seems to mean that the cells initially are NOT assigned the style Normal.

    Can anyone help me make sense of this?

  2. #2
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    When you create a table, the paragraph style applied to every cell depends on the style your cursor was sitting in when you chose to add the table. Usually your cursor is in a Normal paragraph so this is what you generally see but really that is purely by chance.

    It sounds like the table style paragraph spacing settings have picked up something odd and it may actually be impossible to remove individual settings such as paragraph format of first column. In any case, I have never found a direct way of undoing a setting. What I do instead is delete the table style which, in the case of built-in table styles, doesn't actually delete them but it does remove all the condition formats that are causing the problem. If I need to customise some settings to get back to a table style I like then that is a small price to pay for knowing all the other stuff is now removed.

    Of course, deleting a custom table style actually removes it completely but you can always recreate it and pay careful attention to the conditions you set in the table the second time around.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

  3. #3
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    Thank you, Andrew. I think I understand everything you said, but I'm not sure what to make of it.

    When you create a table, the paragraph style applied to every cell depends on the style your cursor was sitting in when you chose to add the table.
    I'm writing examples that show how to prepare a Word document that can readily be converted to HTML, using a particular Word style sheet that parallels the CSS file that the HTML files will use (both style sheets being generously equipped with table styles). I'm doing this by pasting the contents of an HTML page into a copy of the "skeleton" document that defines the styles, then cleaning up the resulting mess.

    So, while your statement is relevant to the way these documents will be used, it doesn't apply to the way they're being created. The tables were never "added" at all in the sense you mean. Do you know how Word handles this case?

    It sounds like the table style paragraph spacing settings have picked up something odd... I... delete the table style... If I need to customise some settings to get back to a table style I like then that is a small price to pay for knowing all the other stuff is now removed.
    That's a good description of how you deal with the problem, but from my perspective it looks somewhat different. These table styles aren't even complete -- this reverse conversion is in part a means of "debugging" them. And you're saying there's no way to "debug" the problem if something goes wrong, so I might as well throw them out before I've even finished them, and start over. Then, presumably, throw them out and start over again if something else goes wrong.

    To me that suggests that Word table styles are just too flaky to be worth messing with, and I should stop trying to make them work. Is that a fair assessment, or am I jumping to an unwarranted conclusion?

  4. #4
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    If you create a table in a Heading 4 paragraph or a paragaph with, say, double underscore direct formatting, all cells in the table will have the Heading 4 paragraph style or double underscoring. This is the way Word works with any insertion. To clear this formatting, select the table and click the Clear Formatting button on the Home tab. So I'd start there to try to eliminate the problem.

    As long as the normal paragraph's font settings (including line and paragraph spacing) are the same as the defaults, they will not override the table style settings--unless, of course, you apply them to table text.
    Pam Caswell

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    Table styles are a brilliant feature and I would heartily recommend you continue to pursue using them. It is true that the implementation is a bit dodgy but if you don't customise the table style too heavily and rely on paragraph styles to do the majority of the font formatting then you can use table styles consistently. The problems appear when you start customising conditions (such as font/paragraph settings in 'first column') rather than using paragraph styles for this.

    If you are pasting in tables from a browser then you will have a lot of carry-over formatting from the html conversion. I don't know how Word handles this but it MUST apply paragraph styles and a table style (probably the default table style) to the content since these are compulsory components in a Word doc. These could then be 'enhanced' by local formatting brought in from the attributes of the content in html. These local formatting attributes are probably where your issues are coming from.

    I would try to return to ground zero by removing all local formatting (Ctrl-Q and Ctrl-Space) and applying known paragraph styles and then known table style. This will at least give you a good place to start your standardised table formatting.

    I haven't worked with CSS Table styles much (other than th, td and implementing zebra/alternate shading for rows) so I don't know if I can help you on that side.
    Andrew Lockton, Chrysalis Design, Melbourne Australia

  6. #6
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    I agree with Andrew. Table styles are very powerful and are great time savers, but like everything else about Word you have to learn the ins and outs.

    I used to hand code html many years ago. I created tables in Word or Excel and converted them into html as a coding shortcut. This was before Word tried to get helpful by adding all that code to make the html look exactly like the Word doc--which I never wanted. I just wanted the bare code because I wanted my CSS to apply my formatting. I'm betting that CSS and HTML have progressed since then, so please don't think that I know very much about what you are doing today only that I get the gist of it.
    Pam Caswell

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