Creating a table from text?

Subject: Creating a table from text?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, dvora -at- tech-challenged -dot- com
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 2009 11:03:28 -0500

Deborah Hemstreet wondered: <<I... need to create a table that is
essentially just like the table of contents, but with an additional
column that lists documents that support that manual. Is there a
SIMPLE way to get the contents into a table format, with each heading
in a row, the page number in a column, and then an additional column,
as below?
Heading page # Supporting Documentation
Document Control 55 QCI 70-07-001
Management Review 62 BDP AD-001>>

If you're using Word, it's trivial so long as the columns of
information are seperated by a predictable character such as a tab.
All you need to do is select all the text, open the Table menu, select
Convert, then select "Text to table". Word generally does an excellent
job of this. When it doesn't, it's because there's an extra character
somewhere between the columns of information that fools Word into
thinking there are more columns than there really are. Deleting that
character solves the problem.

If you need to convert this into a format that Word will recognize
better (e.g., if the columns are separated by uneven numbers of spaces
instead of a single tab), you can do it by an iterative search and
replace: First, select all the text so that the search and replace
will only affect the selected text, not the whole manuscript. Next,
replace (for instance) all multiple spaces with a single tab. You can
then replace all instances of a tab followed or preceded by a space
(in two separate actions) with a single tab. There are more powerful
ways to accomplish this, but that would involve going into Word's
advanced search and replace features. A lecture for another day. <g>
The "for instance" means that you'll need a different search pattern
if different characters separate the columns.

I assume most other software offers a similar feature, but can only
speak for Word.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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