Illustrator Tip #17: 4 Methods of Drawing Tables in Illustrator

illustrator table

Tables are often used when you are designing brochures or company profiles. However, drawing a table can be quite tedious in Illustrator as there is no proper tool to draw tables. I will illustrate some workarounds to this problem and its pros and cons.

Method 1: The Old Method
The traditional method is to draw boxes and lines manually in illustrator. Next, you place your text inside the boxes. Aligning the text in the table fields is always very time consuming as you have to do all the spacing using your gut feeling.

Method 2: Using Area Type Options
Another way is to draw a text field and go Type>Area Type Options. You can setup your columns and rows there. Enter your value in the first table cell. Press Tab repeatedly until you reach until another table cell to enter the next value.

This method uses text flow, hence adjusting your table after you enter all your table data will make your text overflow into the next table cell. Not a good solution as it always drive you screaming…

Method 3: Using Microsoft Word
Yes, you can actually copy and paste tables to illustrator. Table lines will be converted to fills and text remains editable. Fast and easy way to draw simple tables.

Method 4: Using Indesign
By far the best method is to use indesign to draw you table and import it to illustrator. Simply copy and paste the table from indesign to illustrator. Your table lines, colors and text will still be editable. You can have total control of the padding, columns font and even create alternating colored background fields in indesign.

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21 thoughts on “Illustrator Tip #17: 4 Methods of Drawing Tables in Illustrator”

  1. I always use InDesign for Tables and I find it the best.
    Very versatile tool where one can customize every element of the table.

    I have’nt tried importing it in Illustrator (suggest you to write a tip).

  2. Have you tried the new Adobe Illustrator CS4? Maybe there is a feature for table design? I have not looked at the new features of AICS4, yet. I am not thinking of upgrading to AICS4 right now.

  3. I felt a little disappointed since your post doesn´t explain how to draw a table in Illustrator and I’m still wondering how to draw it, because I don’t have Word, and I’m not familiar with InDesign. Personally, I prefer to use the tab tool for spacing in rows and padding for columns. What about you?

  4. 1: Draw a rectangle the size you need for the overall crossword, with a white fill and black stroke.
    2: Go to Object > Path > Split into Grid
    3: In the options dialog, change both gutters to 0, and enter the number of boxes you need horizontally and vertically.
    4: Click OK, then select any squares you want to be black and colour them appropriately.

  5. Thanks. You gave me another idea.
    1)Create a table in OpenOffice (free!!!)
    2)Export it as a PDF
    3) Open the PDF with Illustrator

    I did this using Illustrator 10 (old skool)

  6. I can’t copy and paste from Indesign to Illustrator, nothing happens… I’m using CS3 -anyone else got this problem?

  7. So the solution to getting this Adobe product to work the way it should is … buy more Adobe products.

    Awesome. Inkscape is looking better and better every day.

  8. I tried copy and pasting from In Design. I’ve found that some of the text does not work and is converted to outlines. anyone else have this happen? Know a workaround?

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