MS FrontPage

Formatting Cells

FrontPage lets you control the appearance of each cell's contents, borders, and decoration (sounds festive, no?). Your control center for these maneuvers is the Cell Properties dialog box.


Once your cells are holding text or pictures, they may not look quite as nice as you expected. Aside from bad writing or poorly shot pictures, sloppy or irregular cell alignment is often the biggest offender.

You can adjust alignment for one or more cells at a time. Select the cells, then right-click them and select Cell Properties from the pop-up menu. Within the Cell Properties dialog box, you can set vertical and horizontal alignment (see Figure 5-6).

Figure 5-6. Here's how some alignment combinations appear in a browser. Use the Cell Properties baseline setting to make text of different sizes line up horizontally.

If you've got multiple paragraphs within a cell and want to align one differently from the rest, FrontPage can handle it. Click anywhere in the paragraph and select Format » Paragraph and set the alignment to whatever you want. Paragraph formatting overrides cell formatting.

Cell Dimensions

Since a table is made up entirely of cells, you need to size cells to format your table. FrontPage makes changing cell dimensions easy. You can enter absolute pixel values or measure according to the percentage of a browser screen you want the cell to occupy. (What's the difference? Pop on back to "Fixed vs. Fluid Design" on Inserting A Table.)

Cellular Power

I don't see a setting to change column width. How do I widen a column?

FrontPage doesn't give you any settings for controlling column or row dimensions. The size of a column or row depends upon the cells within it. The widest cell in a column sets the width for the entire column. Likewise, the tallest cell in a row sets the height.

So, to widen a column, you must widen one or more of its cells. Do so by selecting a cell. (You can also select the entire column, but FrontPage is going to change each cell's dimensions.) Then right-click your selection and select Cell Properties from the pop-up menu to change the setting. You can also shrink a column using cell properties, but you must select all the cells, so none of them remain large and prevent the column from slimming down.

Control the display of your fluid HTML tables, by setting column width in percent. To do this, select a cell or column (again, if you're widening you can select one or more cells, but if you're shrinking you must select all the cells in the column), open the Cell Properties dialog box, and specify width by percent. This measure is the percent of horizontal space that the column takes up within the table. In a table with two columns, you can set one at 10 percent and the other at 90 percent. In a table with four columns, make each 25 percent. Whatever settings you choose, make sure all columns all add up to 100 percent.

Controlling column width in fixed tables works the same way, except instead of entering a percentage, you'll enter exact pixel measurements.

Always remember that table cells expand to show their contents. For this reason, table dimensions sometimes change as you type. If one cell expandsautomatically or through your interventionthe row or column it sits in expands to that size as well. When you expand a row or column, its neighboring row or column expands, too.

In Design view, you can also resize a cell by clicking a cell wall and dragging it. FrontPage automatically changes the dimensions of the row or column in which the cell sits.

Cell Borders and Background

The Cell Properties dialog box lets you edit a cell's borders and background. If you've already set table borders, you may not need to set individual cell borders. But sometimes you might want to; the process works exactly the same way as it does for an entire table.

Only Internet Explorer recognizes (and displays) certain special cell border settings like light and dark borders.

Setting a cell's background works the same way as setting a table's background. Thankfully, most browsers can display color or even picture backgrounds; the few that don't simply keep your cell's background the same color as the rest of the Web page.

Merging and Splitting Cells

Most self-respecting (and finicky) Web designers don't like the rigid, graph-paper like layout FrontPage gives them when it creates a new table. For example, say you've got a table heading that really applies to two columns that should sit beneath it. How can you create an extra wide cell above these two columns?

FrontPage is ready with a feature that solves this kind of problem quickly and easily. You can merge cells, turning them into one larger cell that encompasses the area formerly taken up by multiple cells. For example, you could merge two adjacent cells at the top of a column and create one heading. If need be, you can also split a cell in two, or four, and so on (that, as you might expect, is called splitting).

To merge cells, first select the cells you want to merge. You won't get away with any funny stuff here. These cells must form a square or rectangle. If you select cells that aren't connected or that form an L-shape, FrontPage won't let you perform the merge.

Once you've selected the cells, you can go ahead and merge them. To do this, select Table » Merge Cells or click the Merge Cells button on the Tables toolbar. (You can also right-click the selection and open Cell Properties from the pop-up menu, then specify a new number of columns or rows for the cell to span. But this is less intuitiveit's hard to see what you're doing.) Another method is to use the Eraser tool on the Tables toolbar. Click the Eraser button to activate it. Then drag your cursor across any cell wall to delete it. To deactivate the eraser, click the button again. Whatever your method, merging creates cells that span columns or rows (see Figure 5-7).

Figure 5-7. Merge cells across columns, rows, or both to create larger cells like those in this table.

You may find that instead of merging, you actually need to divide a cell. FrontPage can split a single cell into two or more cells vertically or horizontally. To split a cell, click inside or select it. Select Table » Split Cells, click the Split Cells button, or right-click the cell and select Split Cells from the pop-up menu. The Split Cell dialog box appears. Choose whether you want to split the cell into rows or columns, enter a number, and you're on your way to splitsville.