My work frequently features large tables of data (sometimes including multiline text), but I’m finding it difficult to work with such tables in Scrivener. (E.g., the width is too restrictive for effective editing, since the tables show in portrait orientation; insertion of rows takes several keystrokes; it takes several operations to format a table header to be visually distinct from the data.) I’m not looking for final-formatting functionality, but the tables are significant pieces of the draft that I need to edit along with the rest of my content.
How do other people handle tables? Are there useful shortcuts or strategies?
Prior to Scrivener, I found it simplest to manage most of my tables in one or more spreadsheet (e.g., via Excel). Is there perhaps a way to link a spreadsheet file into the Scrivener draft such that it will be pulled in to the desired location at compile time? (I would find that very useful for diagrams as well.) Ideally I’d like Scrivener’s search functionality to be able to find text within the tables too, although I could make do without if needed.
Surely there are people who use Scrivener for theses or research papers? I doubt that I’m the first person with this need. -smile-
I have also found tables functionality to be limited and unreliable. But they are such an important part of my workflow that I can’t do without them.
Scriv has a bad habit of corrupting large tables, so I never go above 20 rows. And I don’t touch the Merge Cells / Split Cells commands: in my experiences anything more complex than a simple grid always gets corrupted. I’ve not been able to reproduce the problems to file a useful bug report, but it happens regularly.
A tip: You can add a Table icon to the Format toolbar (use Tools / Customize Toolbars). This prvides slightly quicker access to some table commands.
And: right-clicking in a table produces a menu with a list of table commands right at the bottom.
I find the best way of formating header rows is to select all the cells in it and pressing ctrl+B (or ctrl+U).
I suggest just putting a placeholder in your text where the table should go, and then using a link (Edit->Link) to your spreadsheet for the live data. Once you compile, you can import the tabulated data from the spreadsheets you were working with and format the table there. You can also import the spreadsheets into your Research folder, and use scrivener links (Edit->Scrivener Link), if you want to keep everything in your project.
You might also look into the MultiMarkdown formatting method, if the output types are something you can work with.