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How do we format table cells?

Efleda Brophy August 17, 2020

I wanted to use a smaller font for table cells, and because we are not able to change font size, I used the Heading 6 format for all the cells. I wanted the contents even smaller than the Heading 6 font, so I used the Superscript option. Most of the cells are blank but I copied / pasted the Heading 6 + Superscript formats. The formatting seemed to take, but when I published the document and I checked back on several cells, the formats I copied/pasted were not saved. They all reverted back to Normal Text format. Is there a way to set cell formats in a table, so when users go in and add information, they don't have to figure out what formats to use because table formats are set?

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Florian
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August 17, 2020

As an admin you can add you own css and specify which font to use in tables. But this affects all tables in your installation. With a more complex approach you can try to write a custom macro as wrapper around your tables. So you can format some tables differently. But that is in my opinion too much error prone and too much customizing. Keep in mind that all changes in configuration and all custom macros need to work after the next update. And the next. And the next. 

Florian
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August 17, 2020

And may all of this only work in a server installation. 

Efleda Brophy August 17, 2020

Thank you for your response, Florian, but I am concerned only with the format of one table in a specific document. I do not want to make a global format change for all Confluence tables.

I think you may have misunderstood the issue I encountered. Confluence is not saving the format which I set for table cells in a document, if the cells happen to be blank.

I want users who need to fill out cells in a table to not worry about formatting cells, so I formatted all of them.

  1. I changed the format for several blank cells in a document.
    - With the cursor in a blank cell, I press Ctrl+Alt+6 (or click Heading 6). The cell reflects the format change. That is, when I position the cursor in any of the cells where I changed the format, it tells me that the cell has a Heading 6 format. That is what I expect.
  2. When I pick any blank cell where I have changed the format and type text, it reflects the format I selected (as I hoped it would).
  3. However, when I Publish the document, cells without text revert back to Normal Text format (these are the same cells which reflected the changed format before I published the doc). Cells with text retain/save the format change. Cells without text (which reflected the changed format before publication), revert back to Normal Text format. I would have expected the format showing before publication to remain after publication and not revert to default.
Florian
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August 18, 2020

Well that thing with the automatic reset is something that can only be fixed by Atlassian. I think it‘s some cleanup process happening during the save procedure. Obviously they remove empty formatting blocks for whatever reason. Usually this is not a big thing an it might helps to repair messy formatting.

 
Another thing is the idea of formatting in Confluence itself. Despite let’s say in Microsoft Word or any other product you might compare Confluence to, formatting is not meant to please the eye nor to create fancy layouts. Formatting in Confluence is meant to underline the structure of your document. Therefore  you can only choose some style templates but not an actual font or even fontsize. So a heading is meant to be a heading in the sense of hierarchical structure and superscript is meant for footnotes or mathematical formulas. Both are not meant to let text look in a certain way. The optical representation is just a side effect. It is a completely different approach of thinking about layout and formatting. 


When you want to standardize all your tables on all pages I suggest - as I did in my first post - to modify the underlying CSS. 

I hope this brings some clarity. It‘s the best way I can describe it. 

Efleda Brophy August 18, 2020

I appreciate the CSS tip. Thank you. I'll keep that handy for templates.

I feel presentation (how a document is formatted) affects a document's readability. After all, we create documents as a means of communication. If its contents are presented in a form that's not easily digestible or takes too much time to read (e.g., because it requires too much scrolling), the reader may just forego reading it in its entirety and look elsewhere for the information.

Confluence is marketed as a collaboration tool. Part of collaboration is giving team members the ability to share and change document content. Blank cells are a way to have those who have the information fill in the missing data. It's too bad there is now the added clean-up task of making sure the whole table reflects a consistent format, because the tool does not save formatting that's already there.

I just thought I'd put it out there in case I was missing something in the new editor.

Thanks again.

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Trux Dole November 4, 2021

100% agree - very limiting

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Robin Green February 16, 2022

It's astonishing to me that Confluence doesn't let you change font size. Tables are an obvious place this should be allowed  - tables are often the best way to present information, but the fixed-width margins of Confluence and lack of font size control mean lots of wrapped text in cells, or requiring a slider bar to view the whole table. 1990's UI thinking! Fix it please Atlassian!

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HOB March 26, 2024

Not astonishing at all. This is exactly the type of performance and commitment to resolution I expect from Atlassian. Their solution is to expect everybody to become expert level in CSS to fix their tools limitations. 

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