Pages or --?

I am currently using Pages as a word processor since swearing off Word over 2 years ago. Tables is a function that I use all the time, and I have to say that Word does this better than Pages. I haven’t tried many other word processing programs to see how they handle it, though. I realize that I could use a spreadsheet, but am more interested in programs that are designed for writing. Most Mac programs have the same basic table function, which is sort of minimal.
Any opinions? What program does tables best?

Nisus Writer Pro

Word :slight_smile:

I have Pages, Nisus Writer Pro, Mariner Write, Mellel, Ulysses, and probably a few others.
Each has strengths and weaknesses. I often go back to Word. Nisus Writer in particular is terrible with tables. I love that program, but working with tables has been frustrating. Some times the tables do work fine.

I have not tried using tables in the other programs. Mellel offers free upgrades and it is very powerful. Sometimes it is also on sale. You may want to give it a try. It does have a bit of a learning curve.

If Word is good for tables, I weep for the state of general word processors. That said, I can’t think of anything better than it, aside from spreadsheet applications.

Tables are weak in most word processors. In Mellel, for instance, they are weak even by admission of its developers themselves. But this admission, which was already made a long time ago, didn’t lead to any improvement until now.

But a new version of Pages shouldn’t be far away now; and a new version of Nisus seems to be around the corner too. Perhaps they’ll bring what you’re waiting for!

I’ll toss in Papyrus Its support for tables is decent not great (although that alone makes it better than many so-called Word processors) and as long as you don’t ask it to go too fancy it will do what you ask it to. It is very stable and the hybrid pdf format (viewable as a normal pdf elsewhere but at the same time an editable Papyrus document) is very handy.

Since I almost never use them in writing, I wonder why they are so useful to you.
It could be that a spreadsheet or database application would be better.
Those I use constantly because I like list (table) views of data.

I won’t answer for abadaxis, but for myself, I find tables great for presenting data (e.g. scientific tables of results*). You can do things with tables in Word (and, to a lesser extent, Pages) that are very difficult to do in spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are great for manipulating data, but tables are better for presenting it. In some ways, it’s a little like the distinction between Scrivener and Word - the former is great at creating and editing text, but the latter is better at publishing it. Same principle applies with tables.

*Try preparing a series of APA formatted tables in Excel, for inclusion in a document. I tremble just thinking of it.

Thank you all for the helpful information - I will check out some of these programs.
Like nom, I use tables for presenting data. I’m a teacher and find it very useful for laying out vocabulary lists, worksheets, and tests. I suppose I should learn how to do this in a spreadsheet.

Abadaxis, if this is what you would use tables for, maybe you should give a look to Curio:

I don’t use it, but having tried it several times, it seems to me a very competent digital whiteboard.


I too have used Papyrus, for a book project. Very stable and usable program. Worth checking out.

Another vote for Nisus Writer here. I’ve never had a problem with the tables, but that said I don’t use tables an awful lot on word processors. (Nisus also provides the best compatibility with RTF outside of Word, making it work nicely with Scrivener.)

Another Nisus Writer Pro-er here. I am faced with tables a lot of the time. What I’ve found is that creating tables in NWP is straightforward and problem free. Importing docs with complex tables in — especially when created with far too many columns which then have cells almost randomly merged so it’s hard to work out what’s going on, or when I’m faced with a nested table — those can be problematic. Quite often, they draw outside the page margins — my Chinese colleagues don’t know about centring either on the page or within cells! — and can be a pain to sort out. At that point, I’ll try Pages, or OpenOffice … the latest version of OracleOpenOffice seems to me to be the best option at the moment.

But if you’re producing your own tables, NWP has always been stable, efficient and easy to use, in my experience.


NB Long-term, happy Nisus user, no connections with the company otherwise.

Here’s an old video I made. The quality is bad, but it shows Nisus Writer Pro freezing when I created a table and dragged text into the different cells. As can be seen (hopefully), it often works. In the end t froze, and this was a small, simple table. Notice near the end how text remained highlighted regardless of where I clicked.
Prior to making this video I had experienced odd behavior with Nisus’ tables, so this was just a brief demonstration.

Sorry, can’t watch your video … Great Firewall of China and all that!

Was that using a recent version of Nisus? I know there used to be problems with tables, but the only ones I have been affected by have been badly constructed tables from Word, especially containing nested tables, and Martin told me that those were something that Nisus hadn’t found a way to deal with yet. The one that really caused the problem was also a problem for the versions of OpenOffice and NeoOffice that I had at the time too, and only Pages could open it in such a way that I could sort it out.

Usually, I can see all the cells, though not necessarily all the data in them, and often the quickest way is either to simply create a new table the way it should be in NWP and copy and paste the data into each cell in turn, or to convert the table to text, tidy it up and then convert the text back into a table.

I’ve never tried dragging text into a table — I prefer to copy and paste — but there’s a little voice that tells me that there was a thread on the Forum about problems with dragging. Generally, I think out how I want my table to look, set it up, then type the data into the cells, or else I set up the data as text in rows with tabs as delimiters and then convert that to a table. I can’t remember having a problem doing that.


Hi Mark,
I’m glad you pointed this out. I believe this was with version 1.2 in June 2009.
Version 1.3 came a few weeks after I made the video. Here are the changes as they relate to Tables alone:

Tables in Version 1.3

* Fixed: tables: export of tables with spanning cells to HTML is much better.
* Fixed: tables: TextEdit and HTML export understand table cell heights (we output Apple's custom RTF control for this).
* Added: tables: can use the Shift key to generate a multi-cell selection.
* Fixed: tables: completely deleting a table with comments applied to table cells should not leave behind zombie comments.
* Fixed: tables: tables with certain kinds of spanning structures could open incorrectly/damaged.
* Fixed: tables: much better interpretation of nested tables when reading files. Content in nested cells can no longer go missing.
* Changed: tables: pasting a table slice at the very start of the first table cell in a row/column should insert the pasted slice before the selection instead of after.
* Fixed: tables: pressing the right key when in the very last table cell should place the caret at the start of the line following the table.
* Fixed: tables: reading content terminated by a nested table could prevent the table from being recognized.
* Fixed: tables: pasting table slices as plain text should not change the cell borders/shading.
* Opt: tables: generating many discontinuous table cell selections is faster, especially impacts macros
* Fixed: tables: making large discontinuous selections (eg: Find All) that includes content both inside and outside table cells should show the text in the tables as selected.
* Fixed: tables: converting text to a table should zero out ruler indents and supplant Normal with the Table Cell paragraph style if it exists.
* Fixed: tables: misspelled word at the end of a table cell should always be marked with red squiggles.
* Changed: tables: inserting a table that is not preceded by a newline will manually insert a newline character that is not internal to the table object.
* Fixed: tables: should be able to copy any table slice, even if it is completely devoid of any text.
* Added: tables: new menu Table > Delete > Clear Cell Content that deletes text from all selected cells.
* Fixed: tables: converting text to a table should apply a "none" list override to columns 2-N, as necessary.
* Fixed: tables: marked text (eg: Japanese input) should not be lost when a table cell shifts between pages.
* Fixed: tables: resizing multi-page tables is much more stable, no more confusing/incorrect results.
* Changed: tables: choosing "Fit to Contents" also shrinks selected row heights.
* Fixed: tables: certain combinations of hyperlinks in spanning table cells could produce incorrect RTF output, resulting in incorrectly merged table cells when reloading the file.
* Fixed: tables: using some table commands from the menu (eg: vertical alignment) could fail to update the palette display.
* Fixed: tables: undoing the "Convert to Table" command should restore the original selection.
* Fixed: tables: horizontal offset of tables not properly reset (by "trowd" control), which could cause tables to appear in the margins when read from file.
* Fixed: tables: splitting table cells sometimes does not recalculate cell text position properly.
* Fixed: tables: can crash when redoing the creation of a table whose constituent table cells were added and separately modified after the initial point of creation.
* Fixed: tables: individual character selections should not draw once cell has been fully selected.


I use NWP regularly, so now I’ll try to work with Tables once more.
Thanks again for your insight! :slight_smile: