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Freezing Columns and Rows in InDesign Tables

Large tables can be difficult to work with because they usually don’t fit your screen at a reasonable zoom percentage. For example, the data in the table below are just about visible, but it’s not very comfortable. The problem is that when you zoom in on, say the 1934 column, you can’t see the stub (the left-most column) any longer so you won’t know which month you’re entering or changing data for.

In some programs, such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, you can freeze columns or rows to keep them visible while you scroll through the rest of the table. This is very useful, and while InDesign doesn’t have a dedicated feature for freezing rows or columns, you can simulate it with the following window manipulation.

At the bottom right of the window, click the button to split the layout view.

The document’s window is split in two, providing two independent views of the same document.

Resize the windows and pan the content around until you have the first column in the left-hand window, and the data in the data columns in the right-hand window.

You can now use the usual scrolling keys (or drag the scroll bars) to scroll the data in the right-hand window while keeping the first column visible all the time.

If you do this a lot, fiddling with the windows gets cumbersome, but a script can make light work of this task. To arrange the windows in a state very close to the state shown in above, run this script. When you’re done and want to return to the single-window view, run the script again.

If you want to simulate the effect of freezing a row in a table, choose Window > Arrange > New Window. Then choose Window > Arrange > 2-up Horizontal and resize/pan the view so you have the desired row(s) “frozen” at the top.

Peter Kahrel

Peter Kahrel

Peter Kahrel is a script developer at Typefi Systems. He is the author of several eBooks on InDesign and scripting, including GREP in InDesign, published by CreativePro Network. He also wrote the feature article on "Getting a Grip on GREP" in InDesign Magazine Issue 59.
Peter Kahrel

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