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How to Split a Table

Books wrote:

Is it possible to split a table into two seperate tables in order to change the setup? Or is it that once I created only one table I can’t undo it? I tried finding a break charecter with no luck.

Last year we looked at how to merge two tables together, but you bring up a good point: What if we want to split a table into two or more pieces? It seems like there should be some command to do this, but there isn’t. Instead, we again turn to copy-and-paste. To split a table, first select the rows you want to split off:


Then cut them to the Clipboard (Edit > Cut) and place the cursor in the text frame after the original table (or wherever you want the new table to be) and paste (Edit > Paste). Here, the new table has been created and I used Table > Table Options > Table Setup to change it’s alternating fill color.


If you have trouble selecting “after” the original table, it may be easier to do in Story Editor view (Edit > Edit in Story Editor). Here’s what Story Editor looks like with two tables in a row (with no paragraph return between them):


I completely agree that it should be easier to split a table in two. But this method isn’t too onerous.

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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  • - November 30, -0001
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29 Comments on “How to Split a Table

  1. What I don’t like about the tables is that the cells don’t split over pages automatically, so if you have a large cell it has to be on one page or another and you have the split the cell to get it on the next page. But this makes it difficult for pagination too when adding text and all that, it’s a little frustrating.

  2. It would a great deal of complexity in tables if you could split cells. Then there would have to a whole series of rules and controls for what would happen at the split.

  3. Steve, I disagree with you. Cells should split pretty much just the way text frames split. This would extremely helpful.

  4. Tables are more complicated than text frames.
    Imagine a cell to the left with lots of text and a neighbouring cell to the right containing three images. Where should that split? At the top of the middle image, thus making the rest of the row in the next column longer than the text that caused to split? In the middle of the image?
    What should happen at the bottom of the column? Should the bottom stroke repeated? Should there be a optional “this is continued” stroke? Should there be no stroke at all?
    Should there be an option to put a “continued on” text in? Would the “Next page number” marker be good enough for this?
    And this is just off the top of the head.
    I think Steve is right: tables are more complicated than simple text frames…

  5. I forgot to say: I totally agree that it would be very helpful. But I do not think it is easy.

  6. I suspect that it was considerations like that that kept the engineers/product managers from allowing cells to break.

    However, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t happen, just that it’s not trivial to think of all the things that would have to be taken into consideration.

  7. Gerald, you make some good points. But it’s definitely worth pushing for CS4! Adobe will be at a “Give Feedback to Adobe” roundtable session at The InDesign Conference in NY (June 7), and they’ve made it clear that they want to hear what people want in future versions.

  8. It’s easy to imagine an invisible, user-applied “break cell here” character to take the guesswork out of splitting cells across frames. If ID doesn’t see such a break character, then it doesn’t split the cell.

    Only slightly more complicated to imagine is allowing cells to break only at paragraph returns. An option to break at “soft returns” (shift-return) would also be nice.

  9. HI people, sometime when I add a data to a row, the cell goes on the other page but there is still lots of room in the first page where the table is, how can i avoid it. This is happening quite often now and it’s frustrating?
    Thanks in advance

  10. Hi Guys,

    I have to say that I believe table cells should be allowed to break. Maybe a reverse keep option where if you want cells to break across frames or pages you specify that.

    I have worked on archaeological data which has had as many as 100 pages of tabular data contained in a single table for ease of editing. Tables like these would be made much easier to keep reasonable page breaks if it were possible to break cells.

  11. I am finding the tables very frustrating! I mostly agree with Eugene’s first coment/complaint. I am working on a project that involves large cells of info, in it creates a lot of unwanted blank space.

  12. Table cells split works easily in MS Word. Why shouldn’t it in InDesing? I am pretty frustrated, as I need to deliever a 100 page job today ? have to split the cells manually, but what happens if text will change in future? go manually over it again?

  13. quote: I completely agree that it should be easier to split a table in two. But this method isn?t too onerous.

    This method is so good, why complicate everything, when it can be easier?

  14. I am quite frustrated too at the fact that when tbls break the next row goes to the next page, leaving insane amounts of blank space in the preceding page. I hope Adobe can fix this soon.

  15. David wrote:

    “Cells should split pretty much just the way text frames split. This would extremely helpful.”

    I don’t follow this. Text frames don’t split, do they?

  16. On somewhat of the same subject….

    I use (what I call) a hard return (enter on the number pad) to force my table to the next page/text frame. However, I can NOT for the life of me figure out how to get it back!

    In plain text, you just delete or backspace the return with the text tool. With hidden characters turned on, the “hard return” symbol is nowhere to be found. Can anyone help me with this dilemma?

  17. @Jeremy: Well, I suppose I could have been more precise in my language. I meant, it would be helpful if the text inside a table cell (when there are many lines of text in the cell), could split halfway through the row — so that the top half of the row would end up on page 1 and the bottom half on page 2.

    @Gina: It may be that there is no hard return to delete. Try looking at the text story in Story Editor (from the edit menu). That’s the easiest way to see every character. If there is no such character there, then perhaps there’s another reason the table is on the next page.

  18. Thanks for the quick reply David! Unfortunately, I must admit I don’t know what I was looking at in Story Editor. The only thing that showed up with a VERY tiny icon that looked like a table.

    I ended up inserting a few rows at the end of one text frame, copy & paste the first 2 rows from the next, and then deleted those first 2 (where I believe the hard return was). It solved my issue, but there has to be some other/easier way.

    BTW…I check out your site ALL the time…THANKS for the GREAT work/information!

      • nevermind…found the solution on:

        Keith Gilbert said…
        When you press the “Enter” key with the cursor in a table, the table does indeed “break” to the next column or frame, but it doesn’t actually insert a break “character” in this case. Instead, it sets the attribute of the current row to start the row “In Next Text Column.” To undo the break, place your cursor in the row that appears at the top of the column or page, and choose Table > Cell Options > Rows and Columns, and change the “Keep Options” to “Start Row: Anywhere.”

  19. Sorry for bringing up this sore topic again after so many years :)

    My question: I have a table I have to split into multiple fractions, doing so manually will cost me too much time, is there some sort of script that can split me the table at current cursor position?

    Thank you.

  20. Ok, I’ve tried it again, and I see the reason it didn’t work is probably that I placed the cursor before an inline anchored object, placing it anywhere else does a better job, but it still may mess up the table a bit.

  21. Cells split in microsoft word. But not in a professional layout program like indesign.

    Bit pathetic.

    Stop giving us features that no one wants like cloud syncing.

  22. Hi!What to do if I have linked excel table?
    I can`t do nothing with red square while frame is attached.

  23. I have a question about tables that isn’t really related: can I create different alternating fills within a table that already has alternating fills? I have headers and alternating fills and then sub heads within tables that break up info by days . After each subhead I want the fill to always be the same color but it is set to alternating with original fills.

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