Mysteries of the Elliptical Overset Cell Symbol Revealed
[Kelly Vaughn (a.k.a "Document Geek") has over a decade of print and design experience. She has worked in a variety of print shops, from quick-print, to sheetfed litho, to large format. She specializes in writing and designing technical manuals, specifically for the water and marine industries.]
This article is will help you to better understand the shape and placement of the overset text symbol within table cells.
I recently encountered a problem while placing a Word document. The problematic portion of the Word doc turned out to be a table.
Try as I might, I could not get the text within the table to display… at least, not within the constraint of a normal page size. All I got were the red elliptical overset cell symbols. Now, there are two different type of overset symbols: one for text frames and another for table cells. On a text frame, the overset symbol is a little red square with a little red cross inside of it. But table cells are a special kind of text container, and they get their own special overset text symbol. Table cells get a little red ellipse in the lower right corner.
Until recently, I always thought that the overset symbol appeared in the lower right corner of the cell. Until I saw a table that looked like this:
Some of the ellipses were on the left, and some of them were at the top. What?!? It turns out that each cell had a different text rotation applied to it.
When I opened up the cells large enough to display all the text, this is what I saw.
I had to enlarge the cells considerably in order to display all the cell contents. The reason for the overset text was text rotation. The cells had to be very wide to accommodate the horizontal text, and also very tall to accommodate the vertical text.
So as it turns out, I had misunderstood of the location of the overset symbol in table cells. I had previously thought the overset symbols were in the lower right corner of the cell, but as it turns out, the overset symbols are actually at the lower right corner of the text within the cell. So when the text is rotated within the table cell, the location of the overset symbol moves accordingly.
Another interesting thing about overset text symbols is that the shape of the overset symbol indicates the orientation of the text rotation. For both 0 and 180 degrees text rotation within a table cell, the overset symbol is a horizontal ellipse. For 90 and 270 degrees text rotation within a table cell, the overset symbol is a vertical ellipse (because the cell contents are rotated).
Knowing why the symbols appear where they do will help you when you have to troubleshoot overset tables. If your table has vertical overset ellipses, you should start by expanding the height of the cells. And if your table has horizontal overset ellipses, you start by expanding the width of the cells.