Help with tables

I’m new to both the Mac and to Scrivener, so this is probably just something basic I don’t understand yet or perhaps some sort of odd bug. I was reading something about Scrivener 2.0 having updated table support so maybe this is just a new bug that snuck in with the updates?

What I want to do is make a full page table broken up into equal sized cells, basically subdividing my page into a 3x3 set of cards.

I’ve been wrestling with the table feature but have had no success. Here’s the issues I’ve been having (this is on Snow Leopard btw in case it matters):

  1. Can only adjust vertical size manually, I have not found a way to set the size in inches to make them precisely equal.
  2. Bottom row line sometimes cannot be selected to resize, so I’ve taken to creating an extra row and then deleting it later
  3. Some cells will not take focus. I can click in one cell and start typing, but other cells no matter how much I click in them will not select
  4. Cells show up with different cell settings, I have some cells with black walls and some with grey. Cannot find how to set the format of ALL cells in a table at once.

This is driving me up the wall as it seems like it should be a trivial thing to do. I’ve tried searching online but “tables” is such a generic search term that I’m having trouble finding anything really related. I’m open to creative solutions but I do need to be able to print the page in a table form - imagine you wanted to cut it up after printing to create small flashcards sort of thing.

Any help is very much appreciated, thanks!

Unfortunately Scrivener relies on Apple’s implementation of tables in the standard OS X text system, so they are not great, to say the least (take a look in TextEdit to see the standard Apple implementation).

2.0’s improved support really just adds some easier ways of doing things, but it doesn’t replace the tables system entirely, which is what will be needed in the future at some point (when I’m cloned) to provide a really decent tables system. To answer your questions though:

There’s no way to set the size in inches, but if you size the whole table to the height and width you want it, you can then use the ctrl-click menu, or the Format > Table menu, and select “Distribute Rows Evenly” or “Distribute Columns Evenly”.

This is an Apple bug. I find that this can often be fixed by hitting return to add a return character after the table.

Another rubbishy Apple bug, this one is usually caused by the vertical alignment of the cell not being “top”. Try selecting all the cells and changing the alignment to be top-aligned.

Just select all the cells, and then use ctrl-click > Table… or Format > Table > Table… to bring up the tables palette. This allows you to set border width and colour.

As I say, I’m not going to pretend the tables in Scrivener are great at all - tables and bullets are rather weak features because they use the ones provided with the standard Apple text system. Off in the future I would very much like to replace them with more robust, custom implementations, but tables especially will be a huge undertaking.

Hope that helps at least.

All the best,

Thanks for the reply, and I really appreciate the honest explanation of how things really are. I’m a programmer myself, I’d rather know the bounds of a bug to be able to avoid it than see an attempt to cover it up.

Your workaround suggestions seem good, I think I’ve got it set up the way I want it now. It’s still funny about cell selection, you’ve got to click on a part of the cell with actual text (the upper left when empty) rather than clicking anywhere in the cell, but that’ll go away once I fill them with some text. So, I’m ready to call this a success within the bounds of what Apple provides. Maybe Lion will solve some of these buggy bits or offer some upgrades to the table system, if we’re lucky…

I’m still on the first day of my eval, but I’m really liking the software so far so I expect I’ll probably be buying it soon. It makes it easier to organize your work into bite-sized chunks and still be able to compose it into a longer document when the time comes for that.

Anyway, thanks for your help!

I’m not holding my breath for Lion - the tables (and bullets) were introduced in Tiger and haven’t been touched since. I sort of hope that Apple will at some point introduce an entire new text system, but I doubt it’s at the top of their priorities (and I only “sort of” hope for it because that would involve an awful lot of recoding on my part).

The clicking-in-cells thing is a pain, I recall now that yes, you can’t just click anywhere as you’d expect.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words - I’m glad you like the rest of Scrivener enough to consider buying it.

All the best,

The following probably can’t be done but thought it was worth checking:

I am using a 1 x 2 table to mimic WordPerfect’s old Parallel columns.

The standalone words on the left are sections that are roughly related to the continuous sections of copy on the right.

See attached PDF to make it clearer?

All these words (right and left) come from individual Scrivener docs. Can the table version possibly be linked to its related document in the project so when I change either the standalone doc or the version in the table format it changes the other?

Kind of like it works with your (great) new Quick Reference feature.

Note: I’m not trying to do an exact layout, just to keep the columns roughly connected so I can get a quick idea of how they work side by side Plus, I want to try different connections between left and right as I go along.

Right now I do keep links from the origin-docs for the copy on right to the docs on the left and vice versa (not shown on PDF). But that “just” keeps track of where the sections come from for my reference

Maybe the best analogy is to say I’m trying to have extended footnotes, but on the left instead of on the bottom.

Am I overcomplicating things?

Also I can’t figure out how to increase the space between columns, but that’s getting into layout which, as I said, isn’t that important.

Thanks for your help. A fabulous V 2.0, by the way.

TableTest.pdf (90 KB)


If I understand you correctly, then you want it so that text in two other documents automatically updates the text in a table of a third document when changed. If so, then no, there’s no way to do that - that would be an incredible challenge from a technical perspective!

Thanks for the kind words.

All the best,