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Formatting Cells, Rows, and Columns

You can use the Table Inspector to quickly create simple tables that contain the number of rows and columns you need. You can also use the Table Inspector to create more advanced tables that take advantage of splitting and merging cells so that the table meets your needs.

To adjust cells as needed, you once again use the Table Inspector. Just click the Inspector button on the toolbar and then choose the Table option at the top of the Inspector.


You can make tables that are as complex as you want. However, keep in mind that your audience has to be able to interpret your tables. When your audience members look at a table, it should make perfect sense quickly and easily. A table that has a conglomeration of complicated cells often is not readily clear and requires a bit of study. So, once again, err on the side of simplicity and make sure that each table is easy to understand.

Choosing the Number of Columns and Rows in a Table

In the first part of the Table Inspector, you can choose the number of rows and columns that you might want, as shown in Figure 3.11. Just click the spinner arrows next to the Rows and Columns fields to increase or decrease the number of rows and columns in the table. The table will automatically adjust to accommodate your change.

Figure 3.11Figure 3.11 You can easily adjust the number of rows and columns in a table by using the Table Inspector.

Merging and Splitting Rows and Columns

You can use the Table Inspector to merge cells, split rows, and split columns. First of all, you might not like the default cell construction Keynote gives you, or you might need larger cells than normal. No problem. By using the Table Inspector, you can merge cells together so that they become one. Here's how:


Of course, you can quickly run out of table room on a slide, so you'll have to hone your table down a bit if it is getting too large or consider subdividing the presentation information into two tables on different Keynote slides.

  1. Select two or more adjacent cells by holding down the Shift key on your keyboard and clicking the cells (see Figure 3.12).

Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 You hold down the Shift key to select multiple cells.

  1. Click the Merge Cells button in the Table Inspector to merge the cells together (see Figure 3.13).

Figure 3.13Figure 3.13 Two cells become one.

Just as you can merge rows or columns, you can also split them. You might use this feature when you need to subdivide data so that it is easier to read. Follow these steps:

  1. To split a row, column, or cell, select it with your mouse. If you need to select multiple cells, hold down the Shift key and click them.

  2. On the Table Inspector, click either the Split Rows button or theSplit Columns button, as needed. Essentially, the Split Rows button creates a horizontal split in the cell, and the Split Columns button creates a vertical split.

Adjusting the Cell Border

You can easily change the borders of individual cells or of a whole table by using the Cell Border section of the Table Inspector. To change the thickness of a table or cell border, follow these steps:

  1. Click the table once to select the whole table or click the individual cell whose border you want to adjust.

  2. Click the Inspector button on the toolbar and then click the Table button at the top of the Inspector.

  3. Click the up and down spinner arrows next to the Cell Border field to increase or decrease the thickness of the border. Alternatively, you can click the pop-up menu next to the Cell Border field and choose a line thickness from the list. Your changes are automatically applied to the table so you can see the effect right away.

  4. If you don't like the look, just make additional changes on the Table Inspector, or you can select Edit, Undo to undo your changes.

Adjusting borders has a few helpful uses, such as

  • You can easily change the overall look of a table by simply adjusting all the cell borders and colors. As you can see in Figure 3.14, just a slight increase in cell border thickness can make the table look a bit stronger.

Figure 3.14Figure 3.14 A stronger cell border can make a table stand out.

  • You can call attention to individual cells by making a cell's border a bit stronger than the borders of other cells. This works well when you use additional styles with your text, such as boldface, as you can see in Figure 3.15.

Figure 3.15Figure 3.15 You can make individual cells stand out by adjusting their borders.

You can also change the color of a cell or table border:

  1. Click the table once to select the whole table or click the individual cell whose border you want to adjust.

  2. Click the Inspector button on the toolbar and then click the Table button at the top of the Inspector.


If you start to change a cell border, ask yourself why you're doing it. There is a danger with any software to do things simply because you can rather than for any particular need. Always take a step back and look critically at your table to make sure you have a good reason for the change you are making.

  1. Click the color box just below the Cell Border field in the Table Inspector. The Colors dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 3.16.

Figure 3.16Figure 3.16 This is the standard Mac OS X Colors dialog box that you see any time you start to change the color of anything in Keynote.

  1. Use the option buttons across the top of the Colors dialog box to select a method of picking a color. For example, Figure 3.16 uses a spectrum to find a new color. Simply locate the color you want and click it to apply it to your table.

  2. You can adjust the opacity of the table border color by using the Opacity slider. When set to a lower number, the Opacity setting allows some of the background color to bleed through the border color, giving it a somewhat transparent look. You can set it to a higher number to achieve a more solid-colored border.

  3. Click the Close button in the upper-left corner of the Colors dialog box when you are finished.

Again, feel free to customize the color in any way you like, but make sure the color you choose matches the rest of your slide colors and simply looks good. Remember: You want the data in the table, not the table border, to get the attention.

Choosing the Cell Background

You are not stuck with the default theme background coming through your table. If you like, and if your slide looks good with the option, you can fill the table background by using the Cell Background feature, which is also found in the Table Inspector. This option works great because it can make your table stand out a bit and you can use contrasting colors against other slide elements. You can even use an image to fill the background if you like. For example, in Figure 3.17, I have used the Table Inspector to add an image fill, and I have scaled the image to fill the entire table, simply by clicking a few drop-down menu options. It's that easy!


You can apply background fills to individual cells, a row, a column, or an entire table. Simply select the entire table or individual rows, columns, or cells before applying the background fill.

Figure 3.17Figure 3.17 Image Fill is just one of the cell background options.

Interested? I thought so! Here's how you do it:

  1. Select the table.

  2. Click the Inspector button on the toolbar and then click the Table Inspector option.

  3. On the Table Inspector, click the Cell Background drop-down menu and choose an option. You can apply a color fill, a gradient fill (which uses two contrasting colors that blend into each other), or an image fill. Depending on the option you selected, additional selection options appear under on the Table Inspector so that you can select your color, gradient, or image.


Always take a critical look at your table and make sure the colors, gradients, or images actually look good and match the rest of your slide. And always, remember that these items should help your table content—not detract from it.

  1. Make a selection from the options that appear under on the Table Inspector, and it will be applied to your table.

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